Community Digest

February 2019

Dear <<First Name>>

There are some big questions being asked in the community this month, with members looking to discuss weighty topics like the sustainability of open source projects, responsible AI for conservation, and how we tackle the growing battery waste challenge that is emerging as we see cheaper, more accessible technology getting into the field.

Our annual community survey also seeks to dig into some of these horizon scanning topics, asking questions that dig into what our members see as the greatest challenges facing the conservation tech sector, myths about conservation technology, and reasons you have for optimism. It's been fascinating reading the responses as they come in. You've already been offering such thoughtful feedback, particularly on these big conservation tech ecosystem questions and we're looking forward to sharing what comes out it with you. If you're part of our community or working in conservation technology, we’d love to hear your perspective as well. Take the survey 

Finally, a reminder that you have just a few more days to get your applications in for the WILDLABS Tech Hub Programme. We are collaborating with some of the biggest experts in the space to scale your technology to help end wildlife crime. With the help of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Digital Catapult & the Satellite Applications Catapult, and our six international conservation partners, you will have access to a wealth of resources in our 3 month programme. To get started, all you need to do is complete the lightweight application by Sunday 24th February.

See you in the community,

(Header Image: WILDLABS is working with the Open Data Institute and the Office for AI to in a pilot project exploring how data trusts could help reduce illegal wildlife trade by making relevant wildlife data from across the world more accessible. Learn more)

Join the Conversation

Visit the My Groups tab of your dashboard to discover the latest discussions in your areas of interest. Groups with the most recent comments will float to the top of your list. 

  • The Battery Challenge - how to reduce battery waste? Most equipment requires some source of energy and in many devices we use (lithium) batteries. Thousands of them are used annually in each field site monitored with camera traps alone. This means millions and millions across the globe each year. Femke Hilderink wonders if we translate innovations in electric car industry and power storage systems (power packs / power walls) to the conservation world. She asks, 1) how many batteries are you using – giving a snapshot of the issue, and 2) Ideas for solutions –  what emerging tech could help, should we be redesigning cameras or batteries?  (3 replies)

  • Remote weather stations: This discussion continues to be a valuable resource for anyone looking for cheap, remote weather station setups. Sam Seccombe has added new suggestions, while Jeremy Lindsell has joined looking for a cheap, rain gauge logger with possibility to transmit data over the mobile phone network. Catharina Karlsson has shared her recommendations with him, and linked to a detailed how to doc (28 replies)
  • Expanding the range of temperature pit tags: Subcutaneous pit tags that also read temperature (frustratingly) read only a limited range of temperatures. However, Dina Dechmann hears that they can be hacked. Does anyone have experience with that? (Be the first to reply)

  • ESP32 capacitive sensing with birds: Ted Howard is keen to hear anyone's experience of using the ESP32 chip's built in capacitive sensing to detect the presence of birds.
    He has borrowing birds that I can use PIT tag to tell me which bird, but need to detect direction of movement, and also the possibility of the presence of an untagged bird. Any ideas if it is worth taking the time to see if it works? (3 replies)
  • Small scale fishing vessel tracker tech trials: FFI's partners in Costa Rica recently started trialing tracking devices on small-scale artisanal fishers vessels in a newly designated MPA  to demonstrate how these fishers use the site and to enable their fishing association to become a participant in the new MPA's management. The tech for these trackers was developed by a local Costa Rican tech company and is a proprietary system. Dan Steadman has heard that low-tech, robust vessel trackers will become a bit of an arms-race and that they will start to become very cheap and increasingly flexible in their functionality. He asks, does anyone have any experience in/know of similar kinds of trials? (1 reply)
Wildlife Crime
  • Snare Detection Technologies: Snares are notoriously hard to locate in the field, and it would be a major advance if a handheld (or UAV-mounted) snare detector could be developed, to better scan landscapes and help Park rangers to more easily find and dismantle them. Sean McCormach has revisited this discussion, and is keen to hear if there have been any recent tech breakthroughs or new suggestions. (19 replies)
Software and Mobile Apps
  • Sustainability of Open Source Projects: Joe Nash is keen to start a conversation here around the sustainability challenges faced by open source projects within this community, and conservation technology more generally. He asks - are you working on an open source project? Have you managed to build a community around it? Is that community contributing to the project and making it easier to manage, or are contributions taking up more and more of your time with no relief in sight? Alasdair Davies has jumped with a thoughtful reply about his experiences working to act as the "middle ground" in the conservation technology realm by providing services and support via the Arribada Initiative to help developers of open source hardware (and software) become sustainable. This a big open question, so get involved if you're keen to unpack how we can better work together as a community to try and help each other. (1 reply)

  • Seeking beta testers for our new wildlife intelligence platform: Jan Kees Schakel and the Sensing Clues team can handle one more organisation to join the beta-testing of their Platform for Wildlife Intelligence. They are looking for parks and hands-on rangers having time to discuss issues with us and willing to accept errors / re-work at this beta-stage. In return they have direct influence on what we are building. If things go as planned, we'll release the first full version -which is going to be open for everyone- in June this year (3 replies)
Camera Traps
  • Testing a modified Ltl. Acorn 5210a camera with additional PIR motion sensors: Rob Appleby has modified a camera to have two additional PIR motion sensors on 1m leads, the idea being that there'd be less chance of missing an animal detection. However, he hasn't had a chance to test it in the wild. Peter Apps jumped in to volunteer, and after some logistical chat, it sounds like they're set for testing. (7 replies)
  • Camera Trap Best Practices: Ollie Wearn has brought this thread in full circle, as the results of their camera trap survey have finally been published. They wanted to know what the major limitations of current camera traps are, and how next-gen tech might solve them. So they asked ~250 camera-trappers. They cover a lot in the piece, so hopefully there's something interesting/useful for everyone. Fire away with any Q's or discussion. (17 replies)
Machine and Deep Learning
  • Responsible AI for Conservation? AI is booming in conservation, with almost daily news articles on how it will solve problem X with algorithm Y. Indeed, there's huge potential here. But, as the old adage goes..with great power comes great responsibility! Ollie Wearn (with David Jacoby and Robin Freeman) just published a comment piece, arguing for serious consideration of the possible unintended consequences of AI use in conservation. He thought this might be an interesting starting point for a discussion in our ML group, given the number of folks actively engaged in exciting projects at the intersection of AI and conservation. If you're interested, he's already signposted two questions to get the discussion going. (Be the first to reply)

  • AI for Conserving the Sumatran and Javan Rhino: After reading Graham Kietzmann's call (above), Claire Oelrichs posted about her own work on Sumatran and Javan Rhino. Her team will be building a machine to identify individuals, and was interested in talking with anyone who has done AI for small population numbers with inherent small data issues. Colin Kinger, an engineer at Wild Me, has replied to her call and is keen to talk through the possibilities using citizen science and computer vision for identification possibilities. (3 replies
Acoustic Monitoring
  • Can anyone recommend speakers for playback of primate calls? Irene Duch Latorre is designing a study to document presence or absence of spider monkeys in forest fragments in western Ecuador. They aim to record occurrences using the playback method, but are unsure about the best speaker device we should use. If you have had a similar experience and can offer some advice, they would love to hear from you! (Be the first to reply)

  • Advice for an in-situ audio-visual system for recording a nest siteSam Reynolds has not been able to find a solution for time-syncing the audio and visual data (to allow for the direct comparison of visual and audio data in concert). They were considering using AudioMoths, but were concerned by a possible time-lag of approximately 1 minute per month. Sam has included a requirement list in the post. In summary, it needs to be cheap, record continuously (not motion triggered), and will be placed to cover a nest site, potentially 2 audio recorders and 1 video recorder. (Be the first to reply)

  • Audiomoth v1.1 Group Buy 6 Update: The current AudioMoth group purchase reached their stock level of 1550 devices, meaning the campaign has closed early. They will now set up the manufacturing run and update you shortly on their progress. (2 replies

  • SODA Suite - an endeavor to assimilate global soundscapes on a cloud platform: Jaishanker Nair and the CV Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics is pleased to launch the Sonic Data Analytics (SODA) suite. They invite acoustic researchers, sound engineers and hobbyists to voluntarily contribute sonic data. A well-populated SODA will unveil latent information and act as a vibrant platform for collaborative studies in acoustic ecology. (Learn more
  • Mobile phones to reduce HWC: We often think about complicated tools when people refer to the use of tech in conservation. But mobile phones can be highly valuable as well, e.g. phones are used to speed up the compensation process. Reporting of HWC is key! While in so many areas there is still a major lack of data on HWC - Femke and Nilanga ask, what other tools or methods are our there to report HWC in an accurate way? (Be the first to reply)

  • Foxlights work on pumas, but not foxes?  The discussion about effectiveness of Foxlights in different situation continues, with Rob Appleby, Katarzyna NowakZac Baynham-Herd, Femke Hilderink, and Nilanga Jayasinghe discussing habituation to deterrents and how behavior can vary depending on levels of persecution. (11 replies)

  • Tech for Rewildling Conflict: This discussion continues with Jared Marley joining in to share his experiences developing non-lethal deterrents and other conflict tools. Interestingly, this conversation is also starting to touch on the question of efficacy of deterrents, with Jared making the point that ultimately too many people are searching for a magic button that will solve the problem, instead of looking at it as complex problem, where multiple techniques, tools, and tactics need to be used together. (19 replies)
Have you seen this?
  • Upcoming #Tech4Wildlife gatherings?  Vance Russell is looking for upcoming #tech4wildlife conferences, workshops and gatherings during 2019. Does anyone know of specific events or a central calendar where these might be listed? (Be the first to reply)
Visit the Community

Events and Training

  • March 13-17, USA: CitSci2019 will be held in Raleigh NC next month. There are a number of technology sessions planned. Join the thread to connect with other members attending. 
  • March 18-22, Jamaica: Global SMART Marine Training. They have a few open places for participants, which they are opening up to the global SMART community. Applications due Feb 25

  • March 19-22, UK: Conservation Geopolitics forum hosted by WildCRU in Oxford, UK. The objective of this conference is to spark a scholarly and practically-minded conversation around Conservation Geopolitics – how it shapes global trends that threaten wildlife, and how it might work as a site of intervention for conservation futures. 
  • Apr 30 - May 2, Scotland: Workshop to analyse tracking data using Movebank and the Env-DATA Track Annotation Service. It is intended for graduate students or other professionals interested in relating animal tracking data to environmental data. Applications due Mar 1

  • March - throughout 2019, Kenya: GIS training workshops, designed for organizations and individuals who utilize mapping capabilities for insightful and informed decision making in Program Management, Food Security, Climate Change, M&E, Disaster Risk Reduction, Information Management, and Data Collection.

  • Online: Video Recordings from all 35 sessions from the recent Eye on Earth Symposium now available.

Live Funding Opportunities

The Ecosulis Rewilding Tech Challenge

With the aim of advancing rewildling-related technology in the UK and introducing new talent and ideas into the field of rewildling, Ecosulis is thrilled to announce the launch of their first ever Rewilding Tech Challenge. First prize is £5,000 and includes on-going support from the award-winning Ecosulis team. 

Due: April 5, 2019

Con X Tech Prize, Round 2: Invasive Species & Blue Sky


Got a bold idea for the planet? Get it funded. Aimed specifically at projects teams that are considering their first prototype, the Con X Tech Prize is granting 20 prototyping awards of $3,500 each to take your idea from blueprint to reality. Winners of the first stage of the competition will go on to compete in the Second Stage for the Grand Prize of $20,000.

Due: March 13, 2019

USFWS grants to tackle Wildlife Trafficking

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is accepting applications for grants up to $200,000 USD from a pool of 1-2 million USD to combat wildlife trafficking. 

Due: Feb 19, 2019
Nat Geo Conservation Technology Grants

The National Geographic Society (NGS) is seeking applications for their new Conservation Technologies RFP to create novel tools and technologies to monitor ecosystem health. Typical proposal requests should be less than $50,000; however, applicants may request up to $150,000. 

Proposals accepted on a rolling basis

Career Opportunities

Meet our Newest Members

Search and discover members with our enhanced Member Directory in the People tab of your Dashboard 

Technologist interested in using my skills to help wildlife
I rescue animals in northern Taiwan. Most of our rescues are dogs or other animals maimed by wire snares and gin traps.
Computer science PhD student looking to apply state of the art image processing methods to monitor wildilfe

Dive Deep with our Case Studies 

WILDLABS TECH HUB Open Call: Tech to end wildlife crime

WILDLABS is collaborating with some of the biggest experts in the space to scale your technology to help end wildlife crime. With the help of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Digital Catapult & the Satellite Applications Catapult, and our six international conservation partners, you will have access to a wealth of resources in our 3 month programme.


UK's first data trusts to tackle illegal wildlife trade

The Open Data Institute and the Office for AI are partnering to explore how data trusts could help to solve environmental, societal and industry challenges by enabling increased access to data while retaining trust. WILDLABS will be joining them in a pilot project aiming to help reduce illegal wildlife trade by making relevant wildlife data from across the world more accessible.


Using Swiss AI and Drones to Count African Wildlife

After a promising first run in Namibia, a Swiss project could aid savanna conservation using drones and automatic image analysis.


Open Collar for wildlife monitoring launches

Launched at the recent The Things conference, OpenCollar is a conservation collaboration to design, support and deploy open-source tracking collar hardware and software for environmental and wildlife monitoring projects. WILDLABS is excited to join founders Smart Parks and other launch partners WWF, Save The Elephants, Peace Parks, Vulcan EarthRanger, IRNAS, Lacuna Space, Conservify, and Arribada in this collaborative initiative. 


Getting up close and personal with Antarctica's orcas

In this case study, Science Reporter Jamie Morton tells the story of how Kiwi scientists are teaming up with a local underwater robotics company to gain world-first insights into the lives of whales in Antarctica.


ChimpFace: Facial recognition to combat wildlife trafficking

For two years, a project led by Alexandra Russo and Colin McCormick has been developing a facial recognition software. The program will be able not only to recognize when photos published on the internet contain chimpanzees, but also identify the individual chimpanzee. 


Find out more

#Tech4Wildlife can be tricky. Sometimes it takes a village to find the right tool for a task in conservation. With WILDLABS, we're working to grow that village. Download our annual report to learn more.

Download now >>

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