One of the most important components in our set of tools is a digital trigger. We define a digital trigger as using a camera to decide when to activate a trap rather than using a trip plate or motion sensor. Such a trigger would allow trap designers (including us) to design open trap entrances without having to worry about the risk of harming our precious taonga. So we've been working on just such a trigger and today we'd like to share some of our findings with you.
Conservation projects need to make hard decisions based on the cost of deployments and the cost of a camera network can be considerable. As with any technology purchase, it can be misleading to consider only the initial purchase cost of the device - there are a number of factors that influence the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your camera setup. We've worked with DOC to look into what the true TCO of a camera set up is.
One of the most common questions we get asked is how accurate our Artificial Intelligence(AI) solution for predator identification is. But we suggest more useful questions are:
- How accurate is predator identification at different distances?
- How does accuracy compare to humans?
- How accurate does it need to be in order to be useful?
2021 was a very productive year for us here. So we thought it was time for a recap of our products and an overview of what the products can do for you. Today we focus on our Thermal Camera.
There are some really good comparisons between NZ’s Covid-19 response and its predator elimination strategy. Most of the world has no chance of a successful Covid-19 elimination and hence are using methods for Covid-19 suppression. For Covid, NZ was applying an elimination strategy that acknowledges there will still be cases but they can be controlled. With predators, NZ has great success with elimination on islands and in fenced sanctuaries. There are now numerous projects attempting elimination on the mainland. An analogy with Covid is useful as it helps understand the key tools needed for an elimination strategy.
Great to see Predator Free 2050 Ltd investing in bringing innovation to the market: https://pf2050.co.nz/news/kiwi-ingenuity-developing-world-leading-predat...
New software updates to our online portal and our Sidekick app.
Our high catch rate trap has now been out in the wild in a few areas so it's time to give you a brief update. We've identified some key next steps in the trap's development.
One of our customers has had our thermal camera in front of a tree based possum and rat trap for three weeks in the hope of seeing how well it performed. In this case the trap was the AT220 from NZ auto traps.
The Cacophony Project exists to put better tools in the hands of everyone engaged in the battle to make Aotearoa Predator Free. So when we hear DOC's Program Manager for Predator Free 2050 excited about our tools having the possibility to "really change the game", it helps confirm our belief that we're on the right journey.
For a period a 3 months last year we had the pleasure of having Sapphire Hampshire join the project as an intern. Saphy was a Master's student in International Nature Conservation at Lincoln University, from Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen.
Our delivery partner at 2040.co.nz has just announced a number of improvements that are now going live.
Once an area has been cleared of predators, how can we defend it? The traditional answer has been static fences. Today we introduce a new concept - making those fences active.
A group from Auckland University has been training AI models using our thermal video library.
In the area of monitoring, we suspect that Cacophony’s thermal cameras have the potential to deliver three keys benefits:
- A substantial reduction in the effort required to monitor a reserve
- A substantial increase in the amount of data produced from monitoring efforts
- A substantial increase in the quality of data produced from monitoring efforts
Earlier in the year we were asked if we could expand the machine vision used with our thermal camera to automatically detect wallabies with the goal of monitoring and controlling the wallaby population.
If you're a regular reader of our blog, it might be easy to get the impression that we are randomly trying lots of things. The reality of life on the project is somewhat different - there is a targeted structure to what we are doing. This post gives a summary of that strategy. To bring back the Cacophony of native fauna in NZ there are a number of separate parts of the puzzle that we are trying to solve. What follows is a summary of each sub-goal as we see it along with an indication of where we are up to with our progress.
Our previous blogs have highlighted how most predators in well trapped areas just walk past existing traps. This blog shows our first attempt at a device designed to trap hard to trap predators or re-invading predators. At the moment the competition for this sort of application is pretty much manual hunting or very intense trapping and baiting (which often never gets to zero).
In recent blog posts we have gone into detail on different trapping strategies. We chose to do this because we are convinced that many approaches that may seem intuitively to be great strategies won’t actually make much of a difference to the elimination of predators. Our camera experiments have shown consistently and across a number of different environments that, for an area that has been trapped for a while, there is a persistent population that avoids existing traps. Today we introduce a collection of approaches and ideas that we believe can actually improve the predator interaction rate and give us a real chance of achieving our predator-free goals.
Today we tackle the question of the kill rate of existing traps. The arsenal of traps available to trappers includes some well-designed, field-tested, and hardy workhorses. And yet we know that even the most skillful deployment of these in the field only delivers a level of suppression, not the total elimination we strive for. Today we discuss why that might be.