About the Customer
Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world's leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. The Snow Leopard Trust use a diverse combination of programs to ensure the survival of the endangered snow leopard. They place our focus on partnering with communities in key snow leopard habitat areas, addressing their needs as well as the needs of the cats. By using the latest science to develop groundbreaking research techniques, they can best understand the wildlife-human conflict and identify potential resources for protecting this incredible big cat.
Scope and Challenges
Endangered snow leopards have proven difficult to study due to their remote habitat, expansive range, and elusive nature. In an attempt to gather data, biologists have set up motion-sensitive cameras in snow leopard territory. Over the years, more than 1 million images have been captured, but the classification process has been time-consuming. But the manual image sorting was a time-consuming and costly process. In fact, it takes around 300 hours per camera survey.
To solve this problem, the Snow Leopard Trust worked with Microsoft to build an image classification model using Azure Machine Learning, which includes Microsoft Machine Learning for Apache Spark. Rather than taking several hours, automated image classification can now be completed in three minutes.
Outcome and Implications
By using Azure Machine Learning, Snow Leopards increased their rate of experimentation and were able to try out many models.
Azure Machine Learning provides data preparation tools, an interactive interface for manipulating data, as well as the ability to operationalize the model at scale.
Working with Azure Machine Learning meant that the company could start exploring our entire dataset, instead of just what would fit in a single machine. That really opened up the possibilities for processing their enormous backlog of unclassified images using the classification algorithm. After developing the algorithm, Microsoft provided the company with a custom web service that specialized in a classification of snow leopards.
"With Azure Machine Learning, we can automate the image classification process to feed our scientific models. The data preparation tool helps us combine years of data into an organized and complete source. This frees up our scientists to spend more time on snow leopard conservation.” - said, Rhetick Sengupta, Board President, Snow Leopard Trust.
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