Accenture teams up on coral reef protection project in the Philippines

28 April 2020 Consultancy.asia

Global professional services firm Accenture has teamed up with Intel and the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation on an AI project to save coral reefs in the Philippines.

A recent initiative harnessing artificial intelligence to help save coral reefs has been lauded in the Philippines following a collaboration between global professional services firm Accenture, tech giant Intel, and the locally-based non-profit conservation agency Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation (SEF). The new solution, CORaiL, is being used to monitor, characterise and analyse coral reef resiliency.

Since being deployed in the middle of last year, the CORaiL solution has collected approximately 40,000 images, which researchers have used to gauge reef health in real-time. “Project: CORaiL is an incredible example of how AI and edge computing can be used to help researchers monitor and restore the coral reef,” said Rose Schooler, a corporate VP with Intel’s sales & marketing group.

A critical element of the project, according to the trio of develops, was to identify the number and variety of fish around a reef, which serves as an important indicator of overall reef health. Traditionally, monitoring efforts require human divers manually capturing footage of the reef, which can be dangerous and time-intensive as well as disruptive to marine life, such that it may be driven into hiding.

Accenture teams up on coral reef protection project in the Philippines

To provide support for unstable coral fragments underwater, engineers from Accenture, Intel and Sulubaaï implemented an artificial, concrete reef designed by Sulubaaï and placed in the reef surrounding the Pangatalan Island in the Philippines’ western province of Palawan. With fragments of living coral then planted on it, this reef structure will grow and expand to provide a hybrid habitat marine life.

The engineers then strategically placed intelligent underwater video cameras, equipped with Accenture’s Analytics Services Platform (VASP) to detect and capture imagery of fish as they pass by. Powered by artificial intelligence, the technology counts and classifies the local marine life and sends the data to a surface dashboard to provide analytics and trends to researchers on the ground and in real-time.

“The value of your data depends on how quickly you can glean insights to make decisions from it,” said Accenture’s chief analytics officer Athina Kanioura, who also heads up Accenture Applied Intelligence. “With the ability to do real-time analysis on streaming video, VASP enables us to tap into a rich data source; in effect doing ‘hands on’ monitoring without disrupting the underwater environment.”

And the team from Accenture and Intel are already at work on the next-gen Project: CORaiL prototype, which will include an optimised convolutional neural network and a backup power supply. Infra-red cameras are also being investigated so as to create a more complete picture of the coral ecosystem through night videoing, while other uses could include monitoring intrusion into protected marine spaces.

“Artificial intelligence provides unprecedented opportunities to solve some of society’s most vexing problems,” said Jason Mitchell, Accenture Communications, Media & Technology managing director and client lead for Intel. “Our ecosystem of corporate and social partners for this ‘AI for social good’ project proves that strength in numbers can make a positive environmental impact.”