Tech to Help Conservation and Biodiversity

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The Earth’s rich biodiversity is facing serious threats under the ‘Anthropocene’. WWF’s 2016 Living Planet Index (http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/lpr_2016/) reported that global wildlife populations declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. And scientists warn we are currently living through Earth’s sixth mass extinction event (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/10/earths-sixth-mass-extinction-event-already-underway-scientists-warn), due to a devastating combination of habitat loss, pollution, poaching and exploitation, wildlife trafficking and climate change.

This meetup will explore tech that’s being used to tackle urgent conservation and biodiversity issues. We will hear from speakers dedicated to restoring ecosystem resilience:

Introducing the topic will be Stephanie O’Donnell, Community Manager at WILDLABS.NET (http://wildlabs.net/), an open community designed to connect conservationists directly to engineers, developers and tech experts around the world to crowd-source advice, share information on emerging challenges and help solve problems together. She'll highlight some of the exciting collaborations, prototypes and projects that are emerging from the community. Stephanie will also share an update from their Human-Wildlife Conflict Tech Challenge (https://www.wildlabs.net/hwc-tech-challenge) (entries close 12th September), which is offering two prizes of €30,000 for the best new or improved tools to prevent conflict between humans and wildlife.

Dirk Gorissen (https://dirkgorissen.com/) has used his background in Computer Science & AI in a conservation project with International Animal Rescue and Bristol Robotics Lab. Borneo and Sumatra is home to a number of orang-utan rescue and rehabilitation centres, and common problem each of these have is keeping track of the animals they release back into the wild. Traditionally done with ground teams using a radio receiver, the dense jungle and only ~300m range of reception means it’s a true needle in the haystack problem. He'll explain how the latest tech can help us to do better.

Andrea Crosta has over 25 years of experience in conservation projects around the world. He is among the founding and supervisory board members of the Wildlife Justice Commission (https://wildlifejustice.org/about-us), in the Hague, and the creator and project manager of WildLeaks (http://www.wildleaks.org/). WildLeaks is the world’s first whistleblower initiative dedicated to wildlife and forest crime. It is a not-for-profit long-term collaborative project created, funded and managed by the Elephant Action League (http://www.elephantleague.org/) (EAL). Its mission is to receive and evaluate anonymous information and tips regarding wildlife crime, including corruption, and transform them into concrete actions.

Sophie Maxwell heads up the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL’s) Conservation Technology and Innovation Unit. She leads product development teams that create new IOT platforms and advanced technology, which helps protect endangered species and support ZSL’s conservation efforts around the world. One such example is Instant Detect (https://www.zsl.org/conservation-initiatives/conservation-technology/instant-detect), a camera trap and early warning system for rangers to track poaching of endangered species, which has been used across environments as diverse as Antarctica and Kenya.

Peter Kohler, Founder and Director of The Plastic Tide (https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiSgp6Opu3VAhUIJMAKHdNGBCoQFggrMAE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theplastictide.com%2F&usg=AFQjCNGBkET46mEsFvBlO8PDMIgjDg50gg), is an explorer, lover of the oceans and former host of the London Fishackathon (http://fishackathon.co/) (part of the US State Department's international technology and science hackathon on sustainable fishing). Since 2008, he has sought ways tech and science can help measure, explore and understand the issue of marine plastics and litter pollution. The Plastic Tide uses off-the-shelf drones, cutting-edge Machine Learning Convolutional Neural Net algorithms and citizen science to build a program that will ultimately detect, measure, identify, monitor and predict plastic and marine litter on coastlines.

Many thanks to The Trampery (http://thetrampery.com/workspaces/old-street/) in Old Street for kindly hosting us.

Doors open at 6.15pm, talks start at 6.45pm. There will be time for questions after each lightning talk, plus the usual Community Announcements (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u1C_SxV1-gMQh4KnniKsS7GEka1-RtGgsucPAVlD2qg/edit?ts=59831e18#heading=h.ydzprw8v03kn) and networking.

See you there!

**We charge £3 to help manage the number of people who show up on the night, which goes towards the cost of running the event. We don't want this to become a barrier to attendance, so get in touch if this causes a problem for you.