Center for Participatory AI

The Center for Participatory AI empowers stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including citizen organizations, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, academic partners, and companies, to collaboratively design AI applications in a sustainable manner. It fosters a vibrant local Swiss community while also supporting transnational collaborations.

Guided by a people-first strategy, the Center prioritizes societal impact and sustainability, embracing an open collaboration model based on co-design, open data and software, and actively engaging with the public. The Center supports the AI for Everyone and AI for Life Research Programs, actively seeking partnerships to tackle issues that local stakeholders (actors) are deeply concerned about, with the potential to be addressed through human-centered AI solutions. The Center recognizes the significance of both local knowledge and technology, valuing them as essential resources to be shared and mutually enriched.

Idiap boasts a vast alumni network across the Majority World (the Global South), a testament to its longstanding commitment to training doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. Many of these alumni have returned to their home countries to pursue academic or industrial careers. Collectively, they represent a unique global reservoir of AI expertise, cultural diversity, and insights spanning both local and transnational contexts. Idiap is leveraging this expansive network to foster the development of AI solutions tailored to local needs and aspirations, collaborating closely with trusted local partners who share AI expertise and are actively addressing real-world challenges in their respective environments. Together, they are focusing on addressing pressing research questions that are pertinent to the Majority World.


Selected projects

  • AI4MEDIA - A European Excellence Centre for Media, Society and Democracy

The consortium behind this project is establishing the networking infrastructure to bring together the currently fragmented European AI landscape in the field of media, and foster deeper and long-running interactions between academia and industry, including Digital Innovation Hubs. It also shapes a research agenda for media AI research, and implement research and innovation both with respect to cutting-edge technologies at the core of AI research, and within specific fields of media-related AI.

  • ELIAS - European Lighthouse of AI for Sustainability

This project addresses key scientific questions about how AI can reduce computational costs, serves to model effects of policy decisions on society, and impacts individuals. ELIAS strives for a deep integration of the fundamental research that takes place in academia and the more applications-focused research from industry. The project builds on and expands the highly successful and internationally recognized European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems.

  • ICARUS - Innovative Approach to Urban Security

This project seeks to facilitate a transformation in the application and utilisation of the knowledge base through the design of urban security policies. By rethinking tools for urban security policy, IcARUS offers a unique opportunity to draw together the best evidence from urban security research and practice over the last 30 years to implement an integrated, evidence-based and multi-stakeholder approach to prominent urban security problems.

  • WENET - The Internet of Us

WeNet provides a diversity-aware, machine-mediated paradigm of social relations. The goal is to connect people that can support each other, and the key is leveraging their diversity. The WeNet paradigm includes a family of computational diversity-aware models supporting human interaction. The WeNet platform provides the technological infrastructure to set out a series of studies that can be carried within universities worldwide with diverse student populations, and with the final goal of improving students' quality of life inside and outside the academic environment.

  • 2000LAKES - Alpine Research and Citizen Science toward Microbial Conservation of High-Mountain Lakes in Switzerland

This project aims to record and monitor the unexplored microbial diversity in Swiss alpine lakes, and engage citizens in science and spread awareness about environmental conservation through participation in our field campaigns. 2000LAKES is a project of alpine citizen science aiming to understand the ecological impacts of climate change in alpine lakes and to promote the conservation of alpine microbial ecosystems joining forces between scientists and citizens.

  • Civique - Mobile Data for Local Causes

This project created a platform that collects mobile data for local causes thanks to a dedicated app. Civique is made by people: requesters and contributors who create and participate in challenges. Challenges are mobile data collection initiatives that inform local civic causes. Photos, opinions, locations can all be gathered. Requesters are cities and organizations that create challenges on topics that matter to citizens and communities. Civique helps them document their cause, make sense of their data, and engage with people. Contributors join challenges via our mobile app, documenting issues, creating content, answering questions, and taking actions.


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