Wild Me, a non-profit, data-driven organization lead by TDAI director Tanya Berger-Wolf is working alongside citizen scientists and global travelers to assist conservation efforts by photographing and taking video of wildlife and utilizing high-tech solutions such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine vision to organize information.
To make the progress on wildlife conservation that’s necessary, Wild Me is going to take pulling data out of proprietary data sets and joining them into collaborative data sets. This is precisely what Wild Me and its Wildbook platform can do for the effort. The human effort it would take to sort through and classify images and videos of each animal is prohibitively time-consuming. With cloud computing and artificial intelligence, not only does the accuracy improve, but it reduces the time of identifying individual animals from hours when humans do it down to seconds when machines are on the job.
Wild Me uses computer vision algorithms to identify whale sharks based on their unique markings from the photos taken around the world by tour operators, tourists, and researchers. They have tagged more than 8,100 whale sharks since the project began, thanks to the contributions of citizen scientists. The success of this database has prompted many other researchers to realize the potential of the citizen-scientist model for their conservation efforts, including projects focused on zebras, humpback whales, ragged-tooth sharks, polar bears, and more. Wild Me made its Wildbook platform open source to allow others to use this non-invasive tracking of species.
In collaboration with Microsoft and its AI for Earth program, the non-profit is looking to expand and track other endangered species worldwide, as well as connect more with citizen scientists via Twitter and intelligent tags on YouTube. Bernard Marr of Forbes magazine recently wrote an article describing the efforts and foundation of the non-profit, and that full article can be read here.