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Hyderabad: Technology can be used for societal good. The ‘Forest AI Grand Challenge’, launched by Telangana Artificial Intelligence Mission (T-AIM) together with information technology company Capgemini, has proved that new-age technologies like artificial intelligence can be used in wildlife conservation, getting information about location, number and movement of animals across the forest area.

This data can also be used to identify potential human-animal conflict zones as well as wildfire hazards thus preventing the loss of wildlife. “The solution that we built can help forest officials move quickly from raw data to actionable conservation insights. Our models will help gather large-scale collection and processing of camera trap data information and integrate it with data from satellite imagery. This provides us with a spatio-temporal density mapping of different species, both herbivores and carnivores,” Aakash Gupta, CEO and Founder of Maharashtra-based Think Evolve Consulting, which was adjudged the winner of the ‘Forest AI Grand Challenge’, told Telangana Today. It will receive mentoring support and an award of up to Rs 20 lakh from Capgemini for implementation of a pilot project with the Telangana Forest Department.

“We have showcased a solution based on which forest officials can know about water bodies or any attempts at deforestation. The officials can use the animal count and movement data while planning ecotourism activities,” said Dr VSS Kiran, CEO of Hyderabad-based AI solutions company Garudalytics. It is one of the three startups that evolved an AI-based Proof of Concept for wildlife conservation. It has also got some enquiries about implementing its solutions for water body management in Himachal Pradesh.

The Forest Department embarked on this exercise in April with the aim of gathering detailed, large-scale information about the estimated number, location, and range-specific (movement) behaviour of animals in the forest region. These data points will help in wildlife conservation efforts. The challenge received 59 applications and 12 startups were given the opportunity to build a Proof of Concept.

Three startups presented their solutions to a jury comprising experts in technology and wildlife. “In the true spirit of open innovation and collaboration, I am thrilled to see industry, startups and government come together for this excellent initiative led by Telangana AI Mission,” said Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary. “The Forest AI Grand Challenge brought many innovative ideas to the table,” said Anurag Pratap, VP and CSR Leader at Capgemini India.



Author: Howard Caldwell