Artificial Intelligence can be a superpower for conservation.
We’ve seen how it can begin to identify animal species from camera trap images, and from holiday snaps taken by tourists. The main advantage of AI in this arena is the potential to process large volumes of data very rapidly.
But we didn’t believe AI could ever be used to identify anything as cryptic as a footprint!
We were surprised! WildTrack’s footprint identification technology, based on a gold-standard morphometric analysis in JMP data visualization software, now has a complementary AI platform.
In 2020 we partnered with an excellent team of engineers at UC Berkeley to design what we believe is the world’s first AI-powered footprint identification platform. We were honoured to win the Hal R. Varian award for this work.
In 2021 we are refining this pipeline with the help of a team of expert data engineers to deliver a field tool for conservation biologists, to make footprint identification fast and accurate. The pipeline will feature a custom smartphone app and drone edge-device interfaces to allow for data collected by ground and air. This will feed data to the platform to provide the user on the ground with rapid decoding of cryptic ground evidence. It will be integrated with our JMP platform to provide the best of both worlds – speed and accuracy.
Our footprint platform currently delivers >90% accuracy on species identification over 14 species with a further 46 in the pipeline and more onboarding constantly from 5 continents and we’re rapidly increasing accuracy in identifying individuals too. Sex and age-class classification are next.