The Pulse: March 4, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • -8°C: Light snow ending late in the afternoon then cloudy. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 8. Wind chill near minus 17. (forecast)
  • 1,204: There are 1,204 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 80 in intensive care. Alberta reported seven new deaths on March 3. (details)
  • 3-4: The Oilers (30-22-3) lost to the Blackhawks (20-27-8) in overtime. (details)

Samdesk's dashboard for the Ukraine crisis

Samdesk offers free monitoring and alerts as the Ukraine conflict worsens

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Samdesk is offering its real-time, AI-powered crisis monitoring and alerts at no cost to people and organizations who need to stay informed about what's happening in Ukraine.

"We're living through pretty extraordinary times, where a global event has tremendous impact, not only just for the people of Ukraine, obviously and significantly, but will have a spillover effect to pretty much the entire population of the world," said James Neufeld, samdesk's CEO and founder.

The Edmonton-based startup is prioritizing requests from first responders and others that have a direct need for the information as Russia continues the invasion it launched on Feb. 24. That includes non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International.

"It's critical for us to support NGOs and governments that are building cases around the atrocities that are happening. Social is that kind of eyewitness perspective, where we're seeing a lot of that come through there," Neufeld explained.

Samdesk has also been helping corporate clients, typically its largest customer segment, keep track of sanctions and other restrictions so that brands can "be aware of their responsibilities to respond to the situation."

Neufeld said samdesk's system has several checks and balances in place to fight misinformation and disinformation. For one thing, it's not paying much attention to political commentary or rhetoric, but rather reactions on social media to actual events.

"What we're really good at is understanding physical, real-world events in space and time. What that allows us to do is look at a lot of different data sources from different angles to corroborate what we think are factual events," he said.

Once the company's artificial intelligence detects an event such as an explosion, a missile attack, gunfights, or troop movements, its human employees help to contextualize what happened. "There's no human team large enough to process 100,000 different data sources and billions of data points every single day ... but we are also fans of the human in the loop," Neufeld said.

And the people-powered portion of the company continues to grow. Samdesk has doubled from 25 to 50 since it closed its $13.5 million Series A funding round last fall, and is poised to add another 25 people within the next year.

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By Mack Male

A woman with a guitar sings at a microphone

Weekend agenda: March 4-6, 2022

By Karen Unland

This weekend's calendar includes music, dance, and poetry to lift you through a snowy weekend.

Photo: SkirtsAfire features plenty of musical acts through to March 13. (SkirtsAfire)