February 22, 2024

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Protecting Koala Population Via Drones and VR

Koalas

A combination of virtual reality (VR), aerial thermal-imaging and ground surveys were used to build a better statistical model for predicting the location of koalas and, ultimately, protecting their habitat.

As reported, researchers from Australia’s Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS) developed a model that could be used to identify areas most likely to be home to koalas, which are facing population decline.

They used the mashup of high-tech 360-degree imagery and heat-seeking drone cameras along with traditional techniques of ground surveys.

Lead author Dr Catherine Leigh, who is also an Associate Investigator with ACEMS, explained that using the multi-pronged approach greatly increased the accuracy of the statistical model.

Building a model with all of that data gives a much better idea about where the koalas are likely to be.

Predicting where the koalas are and the types of habitats they hang around in provides knowledge on where to monitor them and which areas needed protection.

About the Initiative

In the study, the researchers used ground survey information captured between 2012 and 2017 from Alexander Clarke Park in Loganholme, south-east Queensland.

This is an area that has vegetation ranging from dense forest to grass fields and contains facilities including playgrounds and a dog park.

One of the challenges with ground survey observations was that they could show a statistical bias of higher koala populations close to paths and other areas easily accessible by observers.

However, when out in a field, an experienced koala observer or a citizen scientist will be restricted from where to walk.

Add to that how koalas are hard to see, even by trained observers as they are slow-moving and often hidden high in the canopy.

To counteract that, the researchers surveyed the area from the air using thermal cameras near sunrise, when the body heat of the koalas is detectable against the surrounding foliage.

The third part of the study involved sending researchers out to some of the 82 specific locations in the area, where koalas were known to either be or not be, to take 360-degree images.

Those images were then shown to a panel of koala experts wearing VR headsets, with the experts asked to state how likely the environment they were viewing in was ‘good koala habitat’.

Benefits

The advantage of using VR for the survey was it enabled them to bring the environment to the experts rather than having to take the experts to the field.

A lot of the research done on immersive experiences suggests that it helps to bring back the memories associated with when that expert has been in the field in the past.

This will allow them to be more cognizant of making the decision about the likelihood that a koala would be there.

The researchers found that the three-pronged system of VR-prompted expert information, thermal imagery and ground surveys proved to be 75% more accurate at predicting koala locations than ground surveys alone.

The methods could be used by councils and town planning authorities to obtain critical information needed for koala protection.

The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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