There are those who innovate, followed by early adopters of technology, pragmatists, conservatives and then there are those who are laggards. Very infrequently are conservationists early adopters. The exponential rate of change in technology in modern times, presupposes that in many sectors, technologies are missed and/or leap-frogged. Furthermore, when elements of technology are subsequently adopted and implemented, it is often-times done in a manner that leads to very fragmented systems and disparate workflows – rendering basic decision support, management of information, monitoring and evaluations services and reporting a great challenge. With the race against time and space that conservationists face in the current world, ignoring the role that well thought-through and holistically implemented technology solutions could play in securing our natural resources, could be extremely short-sighted, and with tragic consequences.
Harnessing the potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution, PPF looks to make use of technologies to better understand landscape level drivers of change, impacts on biodiversity, enabling improved harmony between man and nature, values of, and innovation around ecosystem services.
We currently live in an era where very little of our daily lives are not impacted on, directly or indirectly, by technology. Never has there been such innovation and enabling factors to help us better understand our natural resources and environment and how we as humans could better interact as custodians. ‘Digital Transformation’, ‘Disruption’ and ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution’ are terms so often brandied about, but what do these mean? More importantly, what do they mean in the world of transfrontier conservation? New Technologies Programme (NTP) was conceived to use technology as a disruptor and to increase the level and scale of impacts made by Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), our clients and partners.
Digital transformation offers conservation a clean canvas, large and alluring with great opportunity to change business as usual practices. Merging and migrating conservation business practices, processes and functions in a cloud-enabled environment allow for a shared-economy, where through partnerships, pooled resources will allow for greater achievements and rewards.
By doing, learning and achieving, the replication of these technologies and disruptive business approaches are relatively easily achieved and administered. A connected and integrated conservation area becomes possible.
The New Technologies Programme (NTP) vision is to develop applied technologies for transfrontier conservation, promote their efficacy and future proof the value and knowledge they convey.
- Craig Beech, Manager: New Technologies -
Combatting Wildlife Crime
PPF have successes with already proven elements of autonomous data being collected through the Internet of Things (IoT), a myriad of sensors, overlaid with detailed spatial information, all bringing engagement to decision support services for improved management and combatting of wildlife crimes within diverse and remote landscapes.
A soon to be piloted Conservation Farming App will assist subsistence farmers with training materials, autonomous data and metrics, and best practice guidelines to improve yields, and importantly to reduce habitat degradation. Further integration of clean energy solutions have been envisioned to offer basic needs to rural and impoverished communities.
Working closely with Microsoft, and through their Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth Grants’ Programme, process models are machine learning animal tracks and signs. This offers a means of automatically identifying key species through technology by their tracks and or signs in the wild. Trackers of the Tracker Academy are upskilled in aspects of technologies as they assist in compiling a library of images and descriptions to the machine. An incredibly valuable conservation and citizen science tool is to follow.
Tourism is a much-needed component for sustainable conservation, and a great contributor to many a country’s economy. A user-friendly development is envisioned to enhance tourists’ virtual practices from the onset of pre-visitation research, to during visit improved experiences and post-visit peer-reviews, postings and sharing.