AI Cameras Help Park Rangers Stop Poachers


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Eric Dinerstein, the director of biodiversity and wildlife solutions at the non-profit organization RESOLVE, discusses the organization’s TrailGuard AI camera—a low-cost, durable, easy-to-use, efficient, and low-power burglar alarm system for Africa’s national parks—that alerts rangers at headquarters in near real-time of intruders and potential poachers coming into the park. With the help of leading companies, Eric explains how the project came to life, including implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and a satellite modem, making it the first of its kind.

Nolan Johnson: Your work involves a technology application that is intriguing and quite literally about the landscape! I’m interested in how emerging technologies like IoT and 5G will affect your work.

Eric Dinerstein: It’s an exciting time for us right now because we just received the announcement that TrailGuard AI was selected as one of 10 finalists for Fast Company’s “Innovation by Design Award” for 2019. Intel is very excited about it, as well as our other partners in this important endeavor.

What I’m about to say may seem like a contradiction to some of the things that are of greatest interest to your readers, such as IoT, which you mentioned. But first, I’ll start by saying something that is ironic with the projected move toward 5G. When we take TrailGuard AI out into the field, meaning the wilderness where TrailGuard AI is supposed to work, we go in the other extreme direction; we use 2G, especially since TrailGuard AI is used in Africa. In the U.S., it’s hard to find a 2G hotspot in a city to be able to test the transmission of our images. In the African bush, 2G is still the backbone system to contact rangers to alert them about intruders and poachers in the area or critically endangered wildlife moving around, such as an elephant moving to croplands where human-wildlife conflict will occur.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the October 2019 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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