Accenture has partnered with a team of organisations to design and launch a new coral reef conservation tool. As global warming threatens reefs around the world with sun-bleaching, ReefCloud will enable contributors around the world to help map coral composition.
The Great Barrier Reef spans more than 2,300 kilometres, and is of one the world’s most biodiverse regions. For Australia, it is one of the most important cultural and natural entities in the country. In its current form, is critical to the Australian economy, directly boosts employment by 39,000 jobs.
Global warming has jeopardised all this though. With rising global temperatures, portions of the reef have become increasingly vulnerable. In 2017, what scientists cited as the “extraordinary rapidity” of climate change contributed to the bleaching of 95% of areas surveyed – damage is so severe that some debated the eco-structure should be declared “dead” at 25 million years old.
Ecologists are not willing to give up on the reef – and those like it around the world – just yet, though. In collaboration with Accenture, the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) has announced the international roll-out of the game-changing ReefCloud platform.
ReefCloud was developed by AIMS in collaboration with coral reef scientists, conservation practitioners and technology experts across various organisations including the Queensland University of Technology, Accenture, the Palau International Coral Reef Center, Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji and other Pacific Island organisations, and with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The technology allows users to submit photos of the reef, of which the platform will automatically tag and analyse the images through its artificial intelligence (AI) engine. Its automated image analysis currently replicates expert observations with 80-90% confidence to produce accurate estimations of coral reef composition.
Mark Green, Accenture Interactive’s lead for ANZ, commented, “We are incredibly proud to work with AIMS on this important project. Technology and data combined with intelligence and purposeful design helped us bring real value to the table, allowing reef managers to be equipped with the ability to address one of the most significant climate change challenges of our time and safeguard the health and prosperity of our region.”
Through cloud computing, ReefCloud ensures collaborators and users around the world have access to current reef monitoring information. The information is presented through an interactive global dashboard, designed by Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive, that lets users explore the latest insights in coral reef health – while also providing insights on the impact of environmental disturbances on coral reefs.
“ReefCloud will support a transformation in coral reef monitoring approaches which leads to more timely and informed decision-making on management actions to improve the long-term resilience of our coral reefs. ReefCloud is the democratisation of knowledge – working together as a monitoring community and sharing our knowledge and data is much more efficient and effective,” said Manuel Gonzalez Rivero, AIMS Research Team Lead and ReefCloud Director.