We asked twitter the question, 'can gaming help conservation?' and were delighted when Aaron Mase (University of Surrey) responded with an emphatic 'yes', tweeting us a link to his project - Wildsense. As Aaron is a member here on WILDLABS, I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask him about the project.
The Wildsense project aims to engage anyone with an interest in games or wildlife so they contribute to the identification of wildlife and improve world knowledge of animal behaviour. Their first project focuses on the wild tiger where we are counting, tracking and studying the behaviour of tigers around the world (see the image below). As I understand it, the app uses a combination of data mining and camera trap images to fuel the content in the app, which then shows users images of tigers to sort through and classify. This crowd sourced information is then fed into a machine learning algorithm to improve your analysis of images.
One of your main goals for the project is around citizen science and raising awareness of engangered animals. But the project has bigger aspirations than just awareness raising - 'This innovative software can assist in combating wildlife crime through building valuable profiles of animals at risk, facilitating a greater understanding of important contextual information, such as location and behaviour'. Would you tell us a bit more about how you are going to achieve this? I suspect it ties in with the machine learning aspect of your project, which is the part of your project I'm really curious about but haven't been able to find much information to explain what exactly it is your algorithms are going to do. So I'm really interested to hear more about what you're building towards and how you're going to achieve real impact.