WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Event: Big Data in Conservation, Dec 12th

The WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series is a program of webinars that bring leading engineers in the tech sector together with conservation practitioners to share information, identify obstacles, and discuss how to best move forward. 

The next virtual meetup in the series will be on Wednesday, Dec 12th from 3:00pm-4:00pm GMT / 10:00am-11:00am EST. The topic of this meetup will be Big Data in Conservation. Our speakers include Dave Thau, Data and Technology Global Lead Scientist at WWF-US, Dan Morris, Principal Researcher in the AI for Earth program at Microsoft, and Sarah Davidson, Data Curator at Movebank. Their talks will be followed by open discussion and community exchange.

To join, register here

Date published: 2018/11/27


The WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series is a program of webinars for community members and wider partners to discuss emerging topics in conservation technology and leverage existing community groups for virtual exchange. The aim of the series is to bring leading engineers in the tech sector together with conservation practitioners to share information, identify obstacles, and discuss how to best move forward.

The series began in late 2018, to be continued in 2019, and will be hosted on WILDLABS via Zoom. The three topics we've chosen to cover in 2018 include Networked Sensors for Security and Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) PreventionNext-Generation Wildlife Tracking, and Big Data in Conservation. The first two topics centered around data collection, on wildlife populations through tracking and on protected areas and community boundaries through networked sensors, while this third topic tackles how to most effectively utilize that data.

There is a lively discussion about possible topics members would like to have space to discuss, so if you have ideas for future meetups please join the thread and share your thoughts. 

Meetup 3: Big Data in Conservation

Date & Time

Wednesday, December 12th

Main Talks: 3:00-4:00pm GMT / 10:00-11:00am EST

Additional half hour for discussion: 4:00-4:30pm GMT / 11:00-11:30 EST

Background & Need

With new technologies revolutionizing data collection, wildlife researchers are becoming increasingly able to collect data at much higher volumes than ever before. Now we are facing the challenges of putting this information to use, bringing the science of big data into the conservation arena. With the help of machine learning tools, this area holds immense potential for conservation practices. The applications range from online trafficking alerts to species-specific early warning systems to efficient movement and biodiversity monitoring and beyond.

However, the process of building effective machine learning tools depends upon large amounts of standardized training data, and conservationists currently lack an established system for standardization. Therefore, how to best develop such a system and incentivize data sharing are questions at the forefront of this work. There are currently multiple AI-based conservation initiatives, including Wildlife Insights and WildBook, that are pioneering applications on this front. Building upon our two previous virtual meetups, as well as recent conversations taking place within the broader conservation tech community, this discussion will address current efforts, illustrate how they fit together, and frame them within these broader questions about the future of big data in conservation.


The aims of this discussion are as follows: to introduce the technologies used for processing big data in the context of conservation; to describe how they are being used for conservation, including what needs they are addressing in conservation practice and how different approaches fit together; to identify the obstacles in advancing the capacity of these technologies from both field and tech perspectives; and to discuss the future of big data tech, including the sustainability of its applications and how best to collaborate moving forward.


  • Welcome and introductions (5 min)

  • Dave Thau, Data and Technology Global Lead Scientist at WWF-US (10 min)

  • Dan Morris, Principal Researcher, Microsoft - AI for Earth (10 min)

  • Sarah Davidson, Data Curator at Movebank (10 min)

  • Q&A discussion with speakers (20 min)

  • Optional ongoing discussion and community exchange (30 min)

  • Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)


To join, register here.   

Is there another topic you'd like to have covered in this series? Join the disucussion to help shape future events.