SAS recognized for AI project that protects endangered sea turtles in Galapagos  


A collaboration between global data and AI leader SAS and the Galapagos Science Center have been recognized for their crowd-driven AI app that helps protect endangered sea turtles. The app – which received an honorable mention in the Nature category for Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards – provides valuable information more quickly to better track each turtle’s health and migratory patterns over periods of time.

Through an app called ConserVision, citizen scientists can match images of turtles’ facial markings to help train a SAS computer vision model to accurately identify individual turtles. The goal is for the model to be able to perform facial recognition on any sea turtle image, whether it comes from a conservation group or a vacationing tourist.

“I was struck this year by the global sweep of the honorees,” said Fast Company’s Editor-in-Chief Brendan Vaughan. “It’s endlessly inspiring to see how the world is coming together to devise inventive solutions to our most challenging problems. We need ideas from everywhere, and this year’s World Changing Ideas Awards are an extraordinary encapsulation of the innovation and creativity that is so abundant around the globe.”

World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and bold concepts that make the world better. Judges choose winners, finalists and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to work on solving the problems that affect us all.

In addition to turtles, the Galapagos Islands are home to many unique species not found anywhere else on Earth. An ecological haven for researchers since Charles Darwin first set foot there in 1835, the islands are also home to the Galapagos Science Center, the only university research institution in the Galapagos Islands which is a collaboration between UNC Center for Galapagos Studies and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador.

Learn more about how SAS uses data for good.

About the Galapagos Science Center

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (US) and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador) formed a strategic partnership in 2006 to address the challenges facing the Galapagos Islands – the Galapagos Initiative. In 2011 this strategic partnership was further solidified through the construction of the Galapagos Science Center.

The Center for Galapagos Studies is UNC-Chapel Hill’s managing unit for the Galapagos Initiative. The Center coordinates Galapagos programs at the main Chapel Hill campus and all Carolina activities in the Galapagos archipelago itself. 

About SAS

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