Dell Partners With the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to Help Conservation Efforts

Dell Partners With the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to Help Conservation Efforts

Dell is hoping its tech expertise can help conservation efforts at the Great Barrier Reef.

Dell has today announced a new deep learning technology model, which has been launched in partnership with the Citizens of The Great Barrier Reef. Citizens of The Great Barrier Reef has a mission to scale up conservation efforts not just locally, but for reefs around the world, too.

The deep learning model is aiming to allow everyone around the world to more quickly and accurately analyse reconnaissance images collected from the Great Barrier Reef during the next phase of the Great Reef Census (GRC). The GRC is a citizen science effort like no other. It surveys the Great Barrier Reef, allowing input from anyone, anywhere.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, bigger than Italy and visible from space. In this year’s GRC campaign, volunteers will analyse 42,000 images collected from 315 reefs along the 2,300 km length of the reef marine park. It’s no small feat.

This is where Dell comes in. Its “next-generation GRC platform” employs deep learning to rapidly identify reef conditions, resulting in more timely conservation work. Dell tech deployed on watercraft automatically uploads data directly to the deep learning model via a mobile network for real-time image capture. Dell said the new deep learning tech will speed up image analysis that previously solely relied on human volunteers.

“Threats, such as bleaching and a dense population of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, among others, have damaged large sections of the Great Barrier Reef’s delicate ecosystem,” CEO and founder of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Andy Ridley said.

“Understanding reef connectivity is key to be able to direct management and conservation to the reef.”

GRC invites visitors to capture thousands of reconnaissance images from hundreds of Great Barrier Reef sites. Global volunteers – known as citizen scientists – then categorise the images based on marine structure and reef health. This data allows researchers from the University of Queensland and James Cook University to advise the GBR Crown-Of-Thorns (COTS) Management Team and Tourism Bodies, who then prioritise immediate reef conservation efforts.

Previously, researchers have only been able to monitor around 5-10 per cent of the 3,000 individual reefs, making informed conservation decisions difficult.

There’s still hope for the Great Barrier Reef.

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