Identifying poacher hotspots by analysing recordings of gunshots can save species from extinction risks. This is renowned as gunshot detection technology. Zoological Society of London (ZSL)- the international conservation charity, and Google Cloud has deployed new technology for the same purpose. The audio sensors kept in wildlife sanctuaries or nature reserves records events around up to 0.6 miles. The gunshots from the audio can be analysed with the help of artificial intelligence and it will alert the need for patrolling against exploitation.
The current camera traps are activated with movements and limited to a narrow range that is visible. On the other hand, the audio sensors continuously record events around it in a 360° angle and radius without much cost.
The technology was experimented with in Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon by Google Cloud and ZSL. They installed 69 audio recorders for a month in the park and attained continuous sound which is equivalent to that of 267 days. The audio was then analysed by Google's AI for detecting gunshots which brought them back to a location in the park.
The conservation technology lead at ZSL Mr. Anthony Dancer said that pinpointing the hotspots may prevent further hunts. Also, this enables park staff to stay alert in the areas and develop apt responses to the threats as well.
The project is currently focusing just on the gunshots. But in the future, it may, as per Dancer’s words, include the detection of human talks and interference. Anyhow, the next step in the movement will be fundraising and extension of the technology to more nature reserves.
Omer Mahmood the customer engineering head of Google said “Animal poaching remains a global problem and with such catastrophic declines in some species, it's an issue that cannot be ignored," he added that machine learning has helped people to cut down the moths of work to hours also it doesn't need human to listen to all the recording manually.
The gunshot detection technology was earlier used by the US police force. West midland police force installed this as a trial in 2010. But had to remove it after two years due to 'technical difficulties’.
Gunshot detection in cities is challenging to find as the sound of gunshots bounces off the surfaces. But as per Professor Mark Plumbley, from the University of Surrey's Centre for Vision, Speech, and Signal Processing, the application of this technology in conservation is an excellent move but still, there will be something to block the way.