As the first center for big data and artificial intelligence in Eastern Europe GATE Institute works in this direction. Created as a joint initiative between Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Chalmers University of Technology and Chalmers Industrial Technologies, Sweden, it contributes to building a smart data-driven society by harnessing the capabilities of digital technologies for big data and artificial intelligence and accelerating their application in socially relevant fields.

GATE Institute conducts research and creates innovations in four application domains – Future Cities, Digital Health, Smart Industry and Intelligent Government.

By facilitating technological collaboration between government, industry and academia, based on big data and artificial intelligence, GATE Institute is the heart of a vibrant data sharing ecosystem, and provides added value to society, but is also an investment in human potential.

For example, in the background of the heated controversy about the risk of the development of artificial intelligence, in the application domain “Future Cities” through the possibilities of artificial intelligence, GATE Institute’s researchers are developing the so-called “City Digital Twin” and a data space as complementary technologies and models for innovation.

“Data is a key to making informed decisions, a valuable resource for innovation and development, and a prerequisite for making smart decisions for the development of the city. The integration of public and private data, as well as citizens’ data on the state of the environment, mobility, construction, energy efficiency, etc., is crucial for achieving sustainable cities,” explains the Director of GATE Institute Prof. Sylvia Ilieva.

“The creation of a data space and the application of technologies to create digital twins contributes to analyzing in an innovative way air pollution, the use of energy and natural resources, and to taking adequate measures to improve urban infrastructure and mobility.”

The “City Digital Twin” realizes “what-if scenarios”, such as what would be the effect of air pollution on our environment and the health of citizens, or how to plan the urban environment more optimally, to make the city more accessible to citizens and overall a better place to live. It supports informed decision-making based on 3D modeling of urban infrastructure and analysis and simulation results using geospatial artificial intelligence and thermo fluid dynamics.

“High concentrations of pollutants have a direct impact on human health and living standards in urban areas. Existing ambient air monitoring stations, however, measure the concentration of pollutants at individual isolated points and provide data of varying frequency and quality. In the context of this problem, the GATE Institute’s team is developing a platform for spatio-temporal analysis of the air quality in Sofia,” says Prof. Desislava Petrova-Antonova, Leader of the research group in the “Future Cities” application domain.

“The platform predicts air quality in real time, at any location, using methods based on probabilistic and statistical analysis, neural networks, etc. Predictions of the concentration of different pollutants integrate data from different sensor stations and meteorological data, and the results are visualized in an easy-to-understand way to provide a complete picture of urban air.”

In the field of Digital Health, GATE focuses on research related to Alzheimer’s disease. The goal is to develop new approaches to identify the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease using modern methods of machine self-learning. The goal is to determine the neuropathological condition of a given individual in a new innovative way, regardless of the symptoms of the disease, which often appear after a long asymptomatic preclinical phase. Research is based on clinical data that is not tied to invasive procedures such as lumbar puncture and high costs. Therefore, the development of similar studies using alternative characteristics for an individual’s condition is essential.

GATE Institute is initiating research work in a new priority research area related to online disinformation in the Balkans, given that the susceptibility of citizens to conspiracies and disinformation in the region is among the worst in Europe. The team is developing new artificial intelligence methods for large-scale disinformation analysis, including in Bulgarian and other Balkan languages. A new regional multidisciplinary alliance of researchers, fact-checkers and experts has been established to act as a catalyst for national and regional action against disinformation.

GATE Institute is also the Bulgarian hub of IDSA (International Data Spaces Association), which directs and unites national efforts in the direction of using and sharing data both in business and in socially significant areas. The aim of the hub is to be a driving force in the engagement of business and public and city administrations, as well as an incubator to accelerate creating innovations based on the exchange of data and its use at a national and regional level.