Wildlife Protection Solutions with Microsoft AI for Earth


Wildlife protection solutions

Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS) sits in the nexus between the most remote places in the world and burgeoning animal conservation science. It provides the monitoring technology that conservation groups need to keep watch over wild places and protect wildlife. Conservationists use remote cameras to gather image data about the status of the species they protect, but the number of images that must be analyzed before action can be taken is overwhelming. WPS overcomes this barrier in collaboration with Microsoft AI for Earth, supported by Azure technologies for a species-preserving solution.


Gaining on the problem in unexpected ways

Myriad dangers face wildlife in our twenty-first century world: poachers, changing climate, and shrinking, degraded habitats that increasingly bring endangered species into conflict with humans. But conservation groups are getting an edge with technology. Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS) gives conservation a much-needed advantage with the unimaginably difficult task of monitoring vulnerable animal populations all over the planet by using Microsoft AI for Earth tools to analyze vast amounts of image data. Azure high-performance computing (HPC) underpins the nonprofit’s wpsWatch solution, which offers hope for animals, people, and the planet.

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Protecting species with pixels

Conservationists are passionate about saving species, but the race to protect wild animals is grounded in a holistic approach. “Beyond the wonder and joy that biodiversity brings to everyone, we know that everything is connected,” says Matt Hron, Director of Product and Customer Success at Wildlife Protection Solutions. “Protecting wild species helps protect this big network of interrelated living and non-living environment that’s part of the world where we all live.”

In 2019, WPS engaged with the Microsoft AI for Earth team to contribute images to MegaDetector, an AI model developed by the AI for Earth team to accelerate the processing of camera trap images. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship—WPS uses MegaDetector to help sharpen and refine its wpsWatch monitoring solution, and the infusion of images it supplies contributes to the constant improvement of the model. For Wildlife Protection Solutions cofounder and Executive Director Eric Schmidt, the wins achieved to date are sweet. “I love the fact that our team comes to work every day and builds a tool that protects wildlife,” he says. “We have a direct hand in preventing poaching.”