“As an analytic innovator for more than 40 years, SAS is a trusted partner to help organizations tackle challenges by transforming big data into intelligence,” said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight. “Thanks to our continued spirit of curiosity, we remain at the forefront of advancing technology to create exciting new ways to drive innovation for our customers and partners.”
The Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list honors creative companies that have not only found a way to be resilient in the past year, but also turned those challenges into impact-making processes. These companies did more than survive; they thrived – making an impact on their industries and culture as a whole.
“In a year of unprecedented challenges, the companies on this list exhibit fearlessness, ingenuity and creativity in the face of crisis,” said Fast Company Deputy Editor David Lidsky.
Using data to serve the greater good
As an organization motivated by challenges to use its technology to build a better world, SAS took on a variety of projects in 2020 to help protect the environment and use its analytics for the social good. In fact, SAS’ social innovation initiative aims specifically at finding creative ways to accelerate global progress and move the world toward a more sustainable future. And these social impact programs would be impossible without the passion and willingness of SAS employees.
“At SAS, we know it’s critical to be attuned to global issues and be an active contributor to a more sustainable future,” said Susan Ellis, Brand Director and Head of Social Innovation Programs at SAS. “We see social innovation as the opportunity to participate in building a better world – by using our own technology for good while embracing employees’ passion for meaningful work.”
Highlights of SAS’ Data for Good projects for 2020 included:
- By partnering with NatureServe, SAS is using analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to protect biodiversity by measuring the degree of imperilment for plants and animals. With SAS, NatureServe can automate and simplify the complex task of analyzing over 7 million known species of plants and animals on the Earth.
- SAS and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) are tackling deforestation in the Amazon, one image at a time. Launched on Earth Day, the general public can review and classify satellite images of the Amazon to help train existing AI models in spotting deforestation, eventually driving vital policy responses to protect forests. As of February, participants from over 95 different countries have classified 90,000 images with another 45,000 images currently underway, highlighting the global scale of this important project.
- In honor of World Bee Day 2020, SAS and our partners turned to IoT, machine learning and visual analytics to help maintain and support our world’s No. 1 food crop pollinator – bees. For the World Bee Count initiative, more than 20,000 images of pollinators were submitted by citizen scientists and beekeepers across six continents and 69 countries to help address the larger issue of bee population decline.
Transforming emergency preparedness and protecting citizens
The Flood Prediction and Preparedness Solution, which earned the SAS partnership with Microsoft recognition in the top Joint Venture category, has helped the Town of Cary, NC collect and analyze sensor, weather and other data to improve flood monitoring and preparedness. Like many other areas, Cary suffers from flooding after heavy rains, especially during the yearly Atlantic hurricane season. Cary traditionally relied on citizens to share alerts with the town when floods occurred, and town staff would manually process requests and dispatch appropriate personnel to respond to the issues. To modernize its approach and improve flood prediction, Cary turned to SAS and Microsoft.
Cary strategically installed water level sensors along its stream basin and rain gauges at several town facilities. By using SAS Analytics for IoT and the Azure IoT services, staff can now visualize flooding events in real time. Cary is also able to generate and deploy predictive models and monitor the life cycle of these models over time. The town can better identify anomalies, such as rising water, through the integration of weather forecasting data and real-time sensor data, measuring water and rain levels to deliver advanced warnings and predictions of flooding events, both in Cary and in surrounding municipalities.
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