Compare the meerkat – Irish tech and TV whitespaces help Google and London Zoo

25 Nov 2014

An Irish firm whose analytics software is normally used to keep an eye on criminals has put its tech to another use – watching meerkats – as it joins with Google and London Zoo on a ‘Whitespace for Wildlife’ project.

The Zoological Society of London is working with Google to stream live footage from popular animal enclosures to YouTube using TV whitespace.

TV whitespaces are unused channels in the broadcast spectrum that can be used to provide wireless connectivity over a wide area.

Google is funding the ‘Whitespace for Wildlife’ project and providing support via its spectrum database.

One of the challenges is dealing with the huge amounts of video created, and quickly detecting animal activity.

Kinesense makes video analytics software that can search long videos for important or unusual events. Over the past five years, Kinesense technology has been used by police across Europe and America to investigate the most serious crimes, such as kidnappings, terrorism and homicides.

As part of the project with Google and the Zoological Society, which involves studying meerkats and other animals, the video is streamed back and processed with the Kinesense video indexing algorithm where any movement is identified.

“The whitespace part is about using the gaps in allocated spectrum to transmit video cheaply over relatively long distances,” Dr Mark Sugrue, CTO of Kinesense, explained.

“The idea is you can place cameras in remote locations and stream the video back over whitespace to a monitoring station. The problem then is what do you do with all this video?

“How do you use the bulky video data to actually find and catch poachers? Kinesense technology would solve this issue for conservation in the same way we solved the problem of CCTV for police – using our software to make the video content searchable,” Sugrue said.

Live stream from YouTube of meerkats at London Zoo

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years