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Tyneside tech firm building artificial intelligence ‘night watchman’ to make train journeys safer


Late evening practice journeys may get so much safer due to the work of a Tyneside expertise firm.

Gateshead-based Phrase Nerds has secured round £30,000 in Authorities funding to create a man-made intelligence (AI) “night watchman” that may learn passenger social media posts and discretely alert practice guards the place assist is required.

The linguist analytics specialist is constructing and coaching the AI as a part of the Authorities’s Transport Analysis and Innovation Grant (TRIG) programme – which goals to spur daring, early stage concepts to enhance transport within the UK.

Learn extra: Eight North East companies toast Queen’s Awards for Enterprise wins

Phrase Nerds’ expertise is predicated on “natural language processing” – the evaluation of on a regular basis language utilizing AI and linguistics to make sense of textual content information, on this case from social media.

Steve Erdal, Phrase Nerds chief scientific officer, mentioned: “Public transport operators such as train and bus companies need to build confidence in the public in order to encourage them to travel. They can only do that by understanding and responding to passengers that are travelling with them.



Phrase Nerds’ chief scientific officer Steve Erdal (left) with CEO Pete Daykin.

“A lot of them are starting to see there’s problems with that. Firstly, they often see the times when people feel most uncomfortable travelling are the very times when there are the fewest support networks available.

“For instance, when it is late at evening or outdoors of workplace hours, that is when individuals can discover themselves in susceptible conditions or topic to delinquent behaviour. That is when frontline social media workers aren’t round. These individuals can telephone the British Transport Police however that is an enormous step to take.

He added: “It can be really difficult to alert people on the train to these things – or at least inconspicuously do that. The idea is the system would spot something concerning, it would alert an out-of-hours person who would then get in touch with the driver or the train manager to investigate and sort out the issue.”

Mr Erdal says the concept of AI as device to fight anti social behaviour and hold passengers secure is catching on with transport operators due to its capability to sift giant volumes of textual content from social media.

Nonetheless, resulting from inherit biases in what individuals write, AI instruments have additionally usually been biased. That may be harmful on this occasion the place prejudices – for instance these related to completely different ethnicities – may lead discriminatory motion.

Phrase Nerds’ Tyneside-based crew, with help from Durham College, is utilizing actual social media posts to develop the prototype program which will likely be six months within the making.

Mr Erdal mentioned: “We’re trying to minimise bias within AI. We’re also training it specifically on passenger data – and really specifically rail – which hasn’t been done before.

“We’re working very carefully with the rail operators to get a way of what is helpful to them, they usually’re serving to us perceive find out how to break the information up.

“We’ve got really good infrastructure for this sort of thing so we’re hoping to be able to roll it out quite quickly.”

The challenge is one among 51 funded by the TRIG programme, which is delivered in partnership with the Related Locations Catapult, and options different corporations creating a spread of concepts from autonomous flood safety system to applied sciences for the world’s first liquid hydrogen gasoline container facility for zero emission ships.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison mentioned: “Innovation funded as part of TRIG could be the key to unlocking a more efficient and safer transport system for tomorrow.

“I help the ingenious concepts of this yr’s cohort each step of the way in which and need the profitable candidates all the easiest. I sit up for seeing the concepts develop to spice up our inexperienced agenda and create high-skilled jobs throughout the UK.”



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