IoT to be used to save sea cows in the Philippines

27 Jan 2016

One of the world’s largest internet of things (IoT) platform providers, Kii, is working on a ‘citizen science’ conservation project, starting with fishermen in the Philippines.

The IoT platform provider was featured last year on when Kii’s founder, Masanari Arai, discussed the company’s future sensor development, which now appears to be getting geared up for a major conservation effort.

The company said in a recent statement that it is teaming up with the lifeblood of many towns in the Asian island nation of the Philippines, its fishermen, to help track the local population of dugongs, or ‘sea cows’.

As part of the conservation project, Kii will be providing the technology, while Smart Earth Network (SEN) and C3 (Community Centred Conservation) will manage the actual conservation efforts of the project.

Upload sea cow locations to the cloud

This means that Kii will be providing the cloud platform where fisherman, equipped with smartphones with an Android app installed, can upload geo-located images of the sea mammals.

This effort is considered vital for the sea cow population, as the marine mammal is now listed by the World Conservation Union as a species vulnerable to extinction.

Despite efforts to protect them, they are constantly under threat from fishermen, as well as the destruction of habitat and illegal hunting.

“Traditionally, we have had to track these amazing sea creatures from the air, which is expensive and not entirely reliable,” said C3’s Chris Poonian. “Using smartphones to monitor endangered species is an innovative and novel approach. This collaborative project is one of the first initiatives of its kind to employ smartphone technology. If successful, these approaches could have important applications for surveys of rare species throughout the world.”

‘A truly rewarding conservation project’

30 fishermen in the Busuanga region of the country have been equipped with the smartphones on a trial basis, with the fishermen being asked to photograph any sea cows they spot and then upload the images when they are back on land to a central database hosted on the Kii Cloud.

Adding his thoughts, Kii’s founder Arai said: “So often we’re used to seeing our technology delivering benefits for business, but now we’re involved in a truly rewarding conservation project that will deliver benefits for an endangered species.”

IoT is increasingly becoming an effective weapon in the fight to conserve animal populations under threat, with The Blazer Team from Ireland recently showing how it is using it to monitor bee populations.

Dugong (sea cow) image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic