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World Wide Fund for Nature signs IT deal with Atos

Global conservation organisation will harness latest technologies to improve ability to predict risks to natural environment

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is harnessing technology to support its mission to conserve the natural world through a deal with IT services supplier Atos.

Planned projects set out to use artificial intelligence (AI) to automate environmental monitoring, predict the risk of epidemics, and modernise a monitoring and reporting tool used by thousands of its agents.

Atos will introduce AI to analyse satellite images with algorithms designed to identify areas where biodiversity is being negatively impacted. Predictive analysis technology will be used to support nature conservation, with the WWF developing a pilot of this technology to analyse the grassland and savannah in East Africa.

Another pilot will use machine learning algorithms to predict diseases that jump between humans and animals, known as zoonoses. Algorithms will analyse demographic, environmental, animal health and pathogen data to identify hotspots for the diseases. A pilot is being developed in the Mekong Basin in south-east Asia.

The agreement with Atos will also see the WWF improve its Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (Smart), which is used by 50,000 agents in 80 countries to support conservation. Atos is working with WWF IT teams to streamline Smart and improve its usability.

“The devastating impacts of climate change and nature loss are felt everywhere,” said Kirsten Schuijt, director general of the WWF. “This dual crisis requires urgent, innovative and scalable solutions. Technology, if channeled in the right way, has the enormous potential to help address some of the pressing challenges we face today.”

Véronique Andrieux, CEO at WWF France, said: “Helping us better identify changes in the habitats of Key Biodiversity Areas or modernising some of the data collection and analysis tools used by our wildlife conservation teams are some of the outcomes already achieved by our common work. Our partnership with Atos represents a significant step forward, enabling us to harness technology for helping deliver our conservation objectives.”

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The latest technologies are increasingly being used by organisations monitoring natural and man-made health risks. Technology such as AI coupled with monitoring devices means huge volumes of data collected and analysed automatically, alerting humans to potential risks.

For example, the Finish Food Authority (FFA) recently announced it’s using AI technology to dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete critical research as it strives to prevent potential public health crises.

The FFA’s Interdisciplinary Risk Assessment Unit works on scientific risk assessment projects, including the effect of avian influenza on food safety. 

Traditionally, researchers would manually read and process tens of thousands of documents while investigating, which would mean projects take two to three years from start to finish.

This is problematic in cases such as controlling the effects where the organisation needs to act quickly. For example, traditional text search could retrieve up to 20,000 pieces of research on a subject, which researchers would manually go through to identify the useful papers. Now, using AI from Iris.ai to automate document reading and processing, the FFA can address issues in real time.

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