Gabon: An algorithm for biodiversity
A Scottish scientist is helping the Gabonese in protecting endangered species living in our planet’s second largest rainforest. What’s the story behind this project and how did pro science become involved? Find out more about our connection with Appsilon.
Our efforts have put Appsilon and Mbaza AI on the pages of The Independent, Euronews, and Afrik21.
In 2018, dr Robin Whytock, a biologist from the University of Stirling in Scotland, started a project with the National Park Agency in Gabon. Together, they created a programme for monitoring wildlife biodiversity in Lopé National Park, installing 200 camera traps covering the area of 7,000 m2 in the world’s second largest rainforest.
The goal of the project was to observe the park’s wildlife, including the endangered African forest elephants. The camera traps provided conservationists with valuable information, but the analysis of hundreds of thousands of photos took months. Consequently, the conservationists received alarming data about the animals’ health long after the photos were taken, which made protecting endangered species even more challenging.
Dr Robin Whytock reached out to Appsilon, a company specialising in data analytics, machine learning, and solutions based on artificial intelligence. Appsilon’s task was to create an image classification algorithm that would identify on the fly animal species in the photos with almost 100% accuracy. The algorithm was also to work on standard notebooks with no online connectivity, so that it could be used by park rangers in the field.
MBAZA AI: AN ALGORITHM THAT WORKS OFFLINE IN THE HEART OF THE FOREST
Appsilon accepted the challenge and classified the project within their “AI for Good” initiative. Dr Whytock supplied Appsilon with 1,5 million images from various research centres to train the algorithm. A good baseline and solutions developed by Appsilon engineers led to the creation of Mbaza AI, a fast and user-friendly algorithm used by conservationists and park rangers alike. Because the algorithm works offline, they can quickly acquire data in the heart of the forest (for example, to track the movement of an elephant herd), thus enabling a fast response, if necessary.
APPSILON’S SUCCESS DESERVES RECOGNITION
Appsilon is a company with a mission and its founders believe that they can change the world for the better. They openly affirm that implementing solutions with real-world positive impact is just as important to them as working in business. This is also the rationale behind their “AI for good” initiative.
Appsilon connected with us for help in promoting the Gabon-based project. The goal was to showcase the opportunities their technology offers in the monitoring and protection of wildlife biodiversity as well as to demonstrate Appsilon’s commitment to similar initiatives.
Appsilon’s visibility in connection with this project is central in building their positive image and reputation as a socially responsible company that is invested in amazing projects.
WE BRING QUALITY ARTICLES TO ENGLISH-LANGUAGE MEDIA
We were tasked with producing content about the project which would demonstrate its wider scope and different perspectives of those involved. In that, we looked at the problems of wildlife biodiversity, current environmental challenges, and a range of European Commission reports and guidelines. Our goal was to interest English-language media in the project.
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We specialise in PR services for universities, research institutes, and R&D companies. We can Reaching out to potential partners in academia to carry out diverse projects is something we do with ease.