Thanks to machine learning, the system improves over time, using heaps of imagery to hone its ability to recognize animals and threats.
“The whole concept is largely not possible without machine learning and AI – there’s just too much data,” explained Schmidt, who said his company processes nearly 10,000 images a day.
“The reliability of a human to sift through those and accurately make those calls on a 24/7 basis is just economically not possible and physically highly unlikely.”
Compared to humans, technology can spot more bad actors, faster. That’s a powerful new advantage in the fight against poachers – and it could become even more powerful with the help of technologists at Harvard University, who are building AI software that can predict poacher’s actions before they even happen.
“Where are the poachers going to hit next? There are thousands of square kilometers in national parks. There are hundreds of rangers. They can’t be everywhere. If we can tell them where they need to be to stop the poaching, that’s important,” Milind Tambe, director of Harvard’s Center for Research in Computation and Society, told Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s enterprise.nxt.
Wherever wildlife and poaching data come from – sensors, cameras, microphones or drones – cloud computing is what ultimately makes it actionable, allowing everyone from researchers to rangers to glean critical and timely insights that can save the life of an endangered animal.
“Our entire infrastructure is cloud based,” Schmidt said. “It’s quite easy and dramatically reduces the amount of time and energy we have to dedicate to investing in IT infrastructure and scalability concerns. As we continue to grow the camera network, we can simply migrate to higher-end and better cloud resources without having to worry about hardware, data centers, additional storage and all the nightmares that come along with rapid growth.”
By protecting endangered plants and animals and preserving biodiversity, the cloud is doing its part to make life on Earth once more beautiful and more sustainable.
“It is horrifying to think about the possibility that we may be leaving a world behind where keystone species like tigers, elephants and rhinos may just be gone,” concluded Tambe, who said technology and biodiversity are the keys to leaving behind a healthy planet for the next generation.
“We don’t want to have to tell our children, ‘Well, they’re all gone.’ We don’t want a world like that.”