An Introduction to the coming BlueWaveID app
The Azores archipelago, in Portugal, is currently one of the largest sanctuaries for cetaceans in the world—especially for whales—and has even been considered an “oasis” for these mammals, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Over the years, scientific research in this ecosystem has developed to promote conservation, research, and environmental recovery. To contribute to this regard, KCS iT – a Portuguese technology consultancy – decided to create a product that would allow for knowing the natural habitats of these cetaceans. Integrated into the Research & Development area, the Azores unit of this technology – KCS Terceira Tech – developed an app for the real-time recording of cetacean data for future treatment in research areas.
Called BlueWaveID, this solution records and stores cetacean information – data on its travels, its location, sightings, and characteristics – making it an invaluable tool for researchers, universities, professionals, and entities that study these animals, their behaviors, and their relationship with the environment.
BlueWaveID: The app that identifies cetaceans
The app allows the collection of data related to sightings in real-time through dynamic forms, which allows the faster insertion of information, thus freeing up time for analyzing the behavior of the observed animals. The forms can be changed according to the users’ needs and have auto-fill fields, such as GPS coordinates and sighting time.
How does it work?
It works by uploading photographs of the cetaceans taken by users and recording data about the trip and the photographs. These include metrics such as the number of sightings, duration of the sighting, identifications, visibility, sea state data, cetacean behavior, longitude, and latitude of the location. The application also incorporates a photo-identification module: identification of an individual through a photograph of a specific region of the body, which varies with the species. In the case of cetaceans, the tail is the way to identify this mammal. In the future, a module for statistical analysis and ecological modeling will also be incorporated, which will make BlueWaveID a more complete tool.
It employs a machine-learning algorithm to analyze data and identify the observed cetacean. In the next identification process, if the cetacean is in the database, this identification is automatic. The collected data is available for export and data analysis applications.
The advantages of this type of solution are several:
Facilitate recording – these days, all sightings are recorded on paper after the investigators arrive on land, but with the use of smartphones, it is possible to record all information in situ, including weather and location data;
Nature conservation – recording a large volume of data on routes, sightings, identification, and monitoring allows for more conscious decisions to be made regarding conservation and protection objectives;
Data centralization – the recorded data is stored and available on all the user’s (or their team’s) devices and the statistics will help in the nature conservation process;
Pattern recognition technology – recognition of the individual (cetacean) by the shape and characteristics of their tail – through Machine Learning.
KCS iT works on sustainability
The development process was carried out based on the knowledge acquired from experts in the area and was based on a mobile-first approach, using Mendix with a machine learning component developed using Python.
These days, concerns about the sustainability of resources and species protection are becoming increasingly urgent. Thus, KCS iT designed a solution that can enhance the conservation of various species of whales and dolphins. This challenge was designed with a focus on global use. That is, we believe that if this application is used by companies and institutions around the world, the benefits in terms of knowledge of these species will be tremendous. This knowledge will, in turn, allow more conscious actions to be taken to protect species and habitats.
We are currently finalizing the development based on some feedback received, and we hope to have a version soon for a selected group of users, for them to do the final tests.
This product was developed by KCS iT’s innovation unit, which is composed mostly of elements from the office located on Terceira Island, in the Azores. The research and development area of this technology is oriented towards the development of technically innovative projects supported by local resources, with a focus on the areas of health and sustainability and with a positive impact on the community and biodiversity.
What are the impacts of technology?
The way we look at and are in the world has changed, and technology is, along with human will, the main driver of a more sustainable world. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. If some of the big corporations can negatively affect our environment – from production to waste disposal inconsequentially polluting our natural resources – others use technology as one of our biggest hopes when we try to design something for the future.
Technology can and should be seen as a tool whose purpose can be diverse, and this is defined by its users. If the technology is structured with a focus on promoting sustainability, it can be fundamental in creating services and products to be launched on the market, whether monetizable or not. A current certainty is that companies and citizens are increasingly concerned about sustainability, so the right path is linked to the symbiosis between the concepts of technology and sustainability.
For More Information
Though the app is not yet available to the public, any news regarding this project will be shared through KCS iT’s platforms:
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KCSiTPortugal/about/
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kcsitportugal/
- LinkedIn – https://pt.linkedin.com/company/kcsit
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/KCSiTPortugal
- YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/KCSIT2008
Visuals of the app in use
*As the app is yet to be finalized, these visuals are in Portugese, the native language of it’s creators.