Artificial Intelligence

Harnessing tech to save Australia’s beaches

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Author: Dr Adam Makarucha, Data Scientist, IBM Systems

Kangaroos on Esperance beach in Western AustraliaAustralia is blessed with some of the world’s most beautiful coastline. Our island nation is home to more than 10,000 beaches, ranging from a few dozen metres to hundreds of kilometres long. But increasingly, these iconic locales are slowly disappearing before our eyes.

As a Data Scientist at IBM, my work involves AI-based solutions on IBM’s Deep Learning platform, covering a broad range of fields including natural language processing, machine vision and all sorts of predictive problems. Typically, my efforts are used to help clients overcome business challenges. As part of IBM’s commitment to using technology for good, I’m also able to devote energy to addressing major social and environmental threats – like coastal erosion.

Smart solutions to tackle environmental threats

Nature has created its own defence against coastal erosion: seagrasses. These underwater plants form large meadows that help to stabilise the sea floor and reduce wave energy, significantly reducing damage to coastlines. But changes in the environment caused by increased wastewater entering our oceans is causing the degradation and loss of many seagrass meadows. To ensure their survival, intervention plans require ongoing monitoring of these meadows via underwater video footage and manual assessment by marine scientists. However, by using AI for image segmentation, the marine scientists no longer have to spend hours manually labelling video footage, taking the labelling time from eight hours to 20 minutes, with the AI model reaching an accuracy of 91%. With additional data and training, the model accuracy is expected to increase.

Deploying technology for social and environmental good

At the upcoming Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration summit, I’ll discuss how a hybrid cloud approach to AI on the IBM Power Systems AC922 using IBM Watson Machine Learning Accelerator Community Edition has supported the acceleration and automation of seagrass monitoring. This ensures intervention plans keep pace with ongoing environmental changes and secures the survival of this irreplaceable flora.

It’s a challenging issue to address – rehabilitation efforts are prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, and only able to focus on a small fraction of Australia’s vast coastline – but with technology like containers and AI, we can help combat coastal erosion. My work is only a small part of what IBM does to leverage technology for a cleaner, greener and fairer world.

Explore how technology can drive change in your organisation

Join me at the Gartner AADI Summit to experience how emerging technologies like chatbots, AI, robotic process automation, blockchain and the internet of things can power your own digital transformation. Learn how to harness your data with hybrid multi-cloud storage and fuel innovation in your organisation with cloud-native applications.

Gartner AADI Summit

29-30 July 2019

Hilton Hotel Sydney

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