A partnership in pursuit of common interests such as research and development, innovation and the advancement of using Computational Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence for rational decision making came to fruition when the MEC of Gauteng Department of Infrastructure and Development (DID), Jacob Mamabolo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Tuesday, 10 July 2018, in Johannesburg.
The Vice-Chancellor of UJ, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, agreed to pave a way for the use of cutting edge technologies to ensure that the delivery of social infrastructure is more efficient.
The MoU confirms the commitment of the University which will see UJ providing scientific research to assist the department in delivering quality infrastructure on time, within cost leveraging on the opportunities that come with the fourth industrial revolution and artificial intelligence.
“The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and it will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of our lives. To understand it, one needs to understand the history of industrial revolutions. It is a great pleasure to sign this certificate of partnership which will help us serve our people,” said Prof Marwala.
The acclaimed scholar on artificial intelligence, Prof Marwala explained that his grandmother was his first engineering teacher who taught him how to predict the failure of buildings in advance. “This is relevant as it means we should incorporate indigenous knowledge systems into our curriculum, research and innovation agenda. Africans should not be alienated from science.”
Prof Marwala pointed out that UJ offers courses in vibration analysis, signals and systems, thermodynamics and artificial intelligence. “These are necessary to take the framework I was taught by my grandmother into the fourth industrial revolution,” he added.
During the signing, Mamabolo said: “The signing of the partnership today builds on the MoU signed by the Premier David Makhura in 2016 with all the Vice-Chancellors of universities in the province. As a country and a province, we can’t afford to have high rates of investment in infrastructure while we have low rates of economic growth.”
The partnership was concluded just two months after DID launched its “eye in the sky”, the drone programme, which has strengthened the department’s ability to monitor work being done on the ground in 340 projects that it is delivering in all development corridors of Gauteng City Region.
Mamabolo added that the partnership between DID and UJ was in line with the Gauteng Provincial Government strategic outlook, the provincial vision of Transformation Mordernisation and Re-industrialisation.
“Through the partnership, we are building a Silicon Valley of infrastructure delivery. It will help us find solutions to smart infrastructure, meaning buildings that can respond to climate change, but also delivering infrastructure the smart way,” Mamabolo added.
Currently, Prof Marwala and his research team are developing innovative ways of remotely monitoring critical national infrastructure such as transformers and bridges in real time. They feed this monitoring data into real-time Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines to detect faint indications for impending failure and to recommend predictive maintenance before breakdowns can occur.