Tech eye makes biodiversity tracking easier

By LI JIAYING | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-04 09:48
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Migratory birds rest at the Yellow River Delta national nature reserve in Dongying, Shandong province, in December. ZHOU GUANGXUE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Intelligent platform leveraging key technologies to establish integrated sky-to-ground monitoring network

Facial recognition technology, which has found wide use in identifying or confirming an individual's identity, is now moving beyond human faces.

At a digital monitoring center of the Yellow River Delta national nature reserve in Dongying, Shandong province, a variety of data is on display on a large screen, showing the real-time status of the reserve's biodiversity.

The vast nature reserve, with an abundant and diverse bird population, used to pose challenges for scientists in tracking its biodiversity and conducting on-site monitoring.

Today, staff members at the reserve can monitor and tally the biodiversity situation in real time, simply through an intelligent monitoring platform.

As part of Chinese tech company Huawei's Tech4All digital inclusion initiative, the monitoring platform leverages information technologies such as big data, remote sensing and artificial intelligence to establish an integrated sky-to-ground monitoring network.

After terminal collection devices transmit data to the cloud via a well-covered 5G network, AI performs real-time identification and annotation, presenting results on the monitoring platform while conducting a series of data analyses.

This aids the reserve in intelligent species recognition and facilitates real-time monitoring free from excessive human intervention, effectively enhancing conservation management and decision-making efficiency.

"The use of science and technology not only mitigates the effect of human activities on the natural environment, but also opens up more possibilities for biodiversity conservation. Seeing without disturbing, guarding without interfering — that is the greatest respect humankind can show nature," said Shan Kai, a senior engineer at the ecological monitoring center under the Shandong Yellow River Delta national nature reserve management committee.

To date, the monitoring platform has collected more than 38,000 videos and 60,000 images, which have been used to train an AI system to recognize 47 species.

"Digital technologies have a significant role to play in the improvement of biodiversity monitoring efficiency. Integrating various collected information into a big data platform is essential to better serve the management ends for conservation areas," said Li Diqiang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Forestry.

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