Putting surveillance technology to better use

In the age of surveillance, hacking and cyber attacks, it can sometimes seem that new technology is becoming more of a hindrance than a help. People are feeling increasingly more aware of cameras watching their every move and tracking systems observing their internet usage.

So sometimes it’s nice to hear that new technology in regards to surveillance is doing good in the world, rather than making our already paranoid nation more concerned about their privacy. As this new technology isn’t watching us, it’s keeping a close eye on our world’s wildlife.

There have been several recent breakthroughs in animal conservation, with zoologists using new tracking technology to ensure that poachers are kept at bay and that the wildlife is thriving.

Product development firm Cambridge Consultants is helping conservationists at the Zoological Society of London to use hardware to monitor rare animals and have further insight into the lives and habitats of these species. As part of the Instant Wild project, the new satellite-connected and motion-triggered cameras are beaming near-real-time images of animals from the remotest areas of Africa. They are hoping to raise awareness about endangered species and crack down on excessive and brutal poaching.

Zoologists Zoe Jewell and Sky Alibhai have developed a new software that allows them to detect specific characteristics of an animal just by analysing its footprints. They call their method the footprint identification technique (FIT) and through photography, GPS and a series algorithms, they can correctly pinpoint the animal’s gender and age.

This software has been a hit amongst activists who believe that radio collaring (which requires darting the animal) is invasive and cruel.

Hopefully the satellite-connected camera and FIT software will continue to develop, bringing more accurate results, teaching us about these species and ensuring that some of the most magnificent creatures on this planet stay with us for a very long time.

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