A new project backed by Google is letting the public observe millions of photos of wildlife in an effort to encourage collaboration between researchers.
Many researchers use camera traps to observe and study wildlife. It is a great way to let nature go undisturbed by human presence as the cameras have a battery life that last months and are only activated by movement or heat. Now people can access these photos and observe nature at its finest.
Jorge Ahumada a scientist with the nonprofit Conservation International claims that once used, the images typically sit on researchers hard drives collecting virtual dust. Ahumada realised the opportunity of wasting away and opted to create an online platform that allows researchers to share their images with each other and the public. Wildlife Insights launched in December has been backed by the World Wildlife Fund and has become the world's largest camera-trap database, with over 4.5 million photos.
Artificial intelligence is used to sort through the images and so far has recognised over 450 species of wildlife while an analytics program is used to report animal populations declared in different projects which could help with conservation and observing the spread and trends in certain species populations.
The database will be accessible by the public by request for the safety of the animals. Ahumada told CNN:
"That is a vetting process that we will manage carefully because we know that poachers and other actors with nefarious purposes will use this information to find endangered species."
What a great new step for conservation.