AI startup spots deforestation from the sky — in time to stop it

< 1 min read · 7 years ago



We have seen a number of initiatives — such as Supply Change — determined to curb deforestation by putting pressure on businesses to adjust their supply chains. Taking another tack, startup Orbital Insight are using big data and satellite images to monitor forests and discover threatened areas before any illegal deforestation is allowed to take place.

Orbital Insight have collaborated with Global Forest Watch on a system which monitors and recognizes suspicious changes, such as extensive new road building, around forests. Once a threatened area has been identified, alerts are published on the Global Forest Watch website, which local people and other conservation organizations use as a resource. The hope is that, by flagging up worrying developments in good time, the system can help to reduce the huge areas of forest destroyed illegally every year.

The AI system is using deep learning to develop its understanding of warning signs — meaning that the longer it monitors the globe, the more patterns the neural network will recognize, and the better it will become at its job. Orbital Insight also use their technology to help corporations predict global trends. How else could companies like Orbital Insight use their satellite images for good?