HP announced its Earth Insight project, this morning, in conjunction with Conservation International during a press conference at HP Discover in Barcelona. HP Earth Insights is an initiative based on HP’s Vertica software that has created the Wildlife Picture Index (WPI) Analytics System. The WPI Analytics System interprets mass amount of photos the Conservation International’s Tropical Ecology and Assessment Monitoring (TEAM) network has received from its field cameras and makes the data usable by decision makers with the intent of driving sustainable practices.
Conservation International (CI) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia, that focuses on environmental challenges and biodiversity loss. Although based in the US, the majority of its field work is done in other countries with a strong focus on protecting tropical biodiversity (the variation of life – both plants and animals). The application of big data tools to the information collected through TEAM is aimed at helping scientists understand why areas are losing biodiversity and take actions to prevent further loss. It helps scientists be able to analyze data from over 6,000 square kilometers of tropical forests.
“Sustainability is fundamentally about people’s relationship with nature,” Sandy Andelman, PhD, Conservation International’s Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President, said during today’s keynote onstage with CEO Meg Whitman. “If you’re going to manage that relationship effectively, we have to measure. And tropical forests are the part of the world with the biggest measurement gap.”
CI is trying to fill that information gap.
For CI, their system was previously a manual process of collecting, interpreting and analyzing the data from their TEAM camera traps. Now, with Vertica, CI has near real-time analytics from its collection of photographs to identify and interpret biodiversity loss. It changes both the pace and availability of that data needed to report. And Andleman says she hopes that this partnership will yield the data that countries will need to report again in 2020 and in additional that CI will understand how to manage the relationship between people and nature because of the data.
This morning was one of those mornings when I wished my wife was with me for an announcement. My wife, a university sustainability coordinator, is constantly educating me on the topic of sustainability, so some points of the announcement certainly resonate.
First, the project gives scientists additional data that they have never been able to have in the past. Although scientists previously had satellite imagery to observe loss of tropical forests and the loss of biodiversity within the forests, there has never been a tool for interpreting what’s going on under the canopy.
Second, the scientists of TEAM did not anticipate the overwhelming number of images that would be generated from the camera traps. They have over 1.5 million images and adding about 200,000 images each year. The manual process could not keep up – but the Vertica solution likely offers quick results as well as the ability to change how data is interpreted, sliced, grouped and summarized.
Third, from a sustainability practice, its all about understanding the human interaction with nature and once it is understood, then actions can be taken to minimize or lessen the impacts on nature to preserve the world and its resources for future generations.
For more information about the technical approach on the project, the WPI website has a great summary. You can also explore the results of the Vertica analytics through this dashboard on the WPI website. And lastly, HP launched a new HP Earth Insights website to provides a great overview and summary information from the project.