Virtual meetup highlights networked sensor technology for parks

first_imgTo encourage communication between the conservation community and technology developers, the WILDLABS platform began a series of virtual meetups earlier this month.Speakers in the first meetup represented three groups developing and deploying networked sensors for improving wildlife security and reducing human-wildlife conflict.The three tech developers described lessons they’ve learned on meeting the needs of rangers and reserve managers, using drones to fight poaching, and adapting technology to function in remote areas under difficult conditions. Technology users and tech developers don’t always talk directly to each other, but they should.The relatively small size of the scientific/conservation community and its need for a particular suite of features, such as ruggedness, waterproofing, long battery life, small size, ease of use, and sometimes even camouflage — at a low cost — can impede companies’ development of suitable systems. This, in turn, restricts the use of technology in the field.To encourage communication between users and developers of technology for conservation, the WILDLABS platform began a series of virtual meetups earlier this month. The webinars feature engineers and other tech developers presenting some aspect of their conservation-related work, and listeners are encouraged to offer questions and comments. Anyone with internet access can join the meetups or watch recordings of them on Zoom that include notes on key points from the discussion.A grazing white rhino and calf in Kenya’s Nakuru National Park, like those of an increasing number of African parks, benefit from protection from imaging technology and rangers on the ground. Image by Sue Palminteri/Mongabay.The first meetup on November 8, 2018 introduced three engineers who described their projects using networked sensors for improving security and reducing human-wildlife conflict. The speakers discussed the project aims, the technologies they’ve developed and deployed, and the challenges of working in remote conservation areas.Engineer Eric Becker spoke about World Wildlife Fund’s Wildlife Crime Technology Project (WCTP) and some general lessons he has learned in deploying technology in remote areas.Through their testing, the WCTP team quickly recognized that drones, their initial focus, were not the solution to detecting poachers at night, “mainly due to the cost of the platforms, the [limited] flight time, and the size of the areas we need to cover,” Becker said.They shifted their focus to rangers’ need for long-range night vision, deploying a series of networked thermal cameras, which scan 360 degrees and “see” heat emitted by people and animals, along reserve boundaries.Creatures much smaller than baby lions still give off heat that can be detected at night by thermal imaging. Image by Sue Palminteri/Mongabay.Becker said that an anti-poaching team would ideally want to respond to an alert before their target leaves the sensor’s field of view. Some of their video cameras can distinguish humans using artificial intelligence, so WCTP partners have revisited the use of drones to quickly catch up with and follow an intruder until rangers can approach.Becker recommended that engineers interested in designing for wildlife conservation create systems that are wildlife- and weather-proof, have the backing of rangers and park management, and can be used and maintained by people “who may have never used a computer in their life.” He also suggested bringing tools, spare parts, and power sources to any deployment.Laurens de Groot, co-founder of the non-profit SmartParks, agreed with Becker that drones were “a super-nice tool” but had limitations for certain wildlife protection-related tasks. “Maintenance is horrible,” de Groot said, “the terrain where you’re working is horrible [and sometimes too windy to fly], especially for fixed-wing drones, and they are expensive to run, so we thought this is not going to be a sustainable solution for conservation.”He co-founded SmartParks to improve park management by gathering information from sensors set out to monitor the locations of cars, rangers, and animals, as well check the functioning of electric fences, to separate elephants and people, and other tasks.SmartParks team setting up a long-range (LoRa) radio network for a reserve. Screenshot image from webinar presentation by Laurens de Groot.Before deploying technology at a park, his group conducts a feasibility study to prioritize what and where sensors are most needed and then builds the network to meet those needs. With poor internet connections at many parks, the group has created closed long-range radio (LoRa) networks in reserves in Rwanda, Malawi, and Tanzania, and India. The group partners with African Parks, which has the infrastructure de Groot said was needed to implement a networked park and respond rapidly to electronic alerts.de Groot said he and his team want to build a sustainable business, rather than rely on grants; he estimated a cost of 150,000 to 300,000 euros to build a smart park, depending mainly on the number of sensors and the area’s terrain.Jan-Kees Schakel, founder and CEO of the non-profit Sensing Clues, works in a similar way though he said his team could “start small,” spending $5,000 or $10,000 with smaller parks just beginning to deploy connected field technology and up to $100,000 in areas with more infrastructure. Schakel’s team works with companies producing “best-of-breed” technologies to adapt their sensors and make them available for conservation needs. The team also connects these companies with conservation-related law enforcers and wildlife researchers to help create effective sensing networks.Sensing Clues schematic of their system of geofencing sensors, which is “set” around specific areas and alerts officials of the movements of a ranger, tourist, or animal that moves from an expected area to another, potentially risky, area. Screenshot image from webinar presentation by Jan-Kees Schakel.The group has developed three innovative sensors of its own, each designed to distinguish a clear sign of human activity in an area. The Trespasser detects radio signals from smartphones; SERVAL detects sounds, such as motors, gunshots, shouting, chopping wood, or cattle, that are not expected in a protected area and classifies them using machine learning; and a third sensors detects light.Wildtech will cover the second meetup on Next-Generation Wildlife Tracking, which took place on November 20th, in a separate article.  The third meetup, on big data in conservation, is planned for December 12 from 3-4pm GMT / 10-11am EST. You can register for it here.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Acoustic, Anti-poaching, Artificial Intelligence, cameras, Crime, Drones, Human-wildlife Conflict, Law Enforcement, Monitoring, Parks, Poachers, Protected Areas, Sensors, Technology, Wildlife, Wildlife Rangers, Wildtech Article published by Sue Palmintericenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img