GSA launches AI challenge inspired by pandemic needs

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The General Services Administration is looking for contractors to build out federal AI tech in response to COVID-19.

The General Services Administration is hosting an opportunity for private firms and academic institutions to gain knowledge and explore new use cases around artificial intelligence technology to help combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sponsored by GSA’s Technology Transformation Service, the Applied AI Challenge is a competition featuring displays of competitors’ AI tech services that can tackle social and environmental issues stemming from COVID-19. 

The opportunity emphasizes small businesses and diverse firms run by women, veterans, or minorities. A total cash prize of $50,000 is available to the winner. 

“The challenge intends to assist agencies with adoption of AI and related technologies to better serve the American people,” the challenge’s page states. “This goal is achievable through a broad and open challenge encouraging out-of-the-box solutions, along with opportunities for participants to demonstrate a direct application of promising AI technologies.”

Some of the focus areas include water treatment and infrastructure, pandemic readiness via supply chain resiliency and drug discovery, weather prediction and climate modeling, and food security agriculture. 

All projects are related to the theme of improving public service from the federal government via AI technology, a goal several agencies have taken an interest in over time. Back in June 2021, the Biden Administration launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force pursuant to the 2020 National AI Initiative Act.

The task force specializes in guiding the federal government in its implementation and use of AI tools. 

GSA’s challenge parlays into this mission, encouraging contestants to submit industry use cases featuring technology, including language processing devices and software, multi-platform AI solutions and computer vision engines that can recognize patterns with visual data. 

“AI technologies are advancing quickly and the federal government is committed to leveraging the power of innovative and novel AI-based solutions,” the challenge’s problem statement reads. “We seek to improve public service quality through the adoption of AI software and systems.”

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