Artificial reef meets artificial intelligence

A precast artificial reef concept, Sulu-Reef Prosthesis (SRP), elevates the practice of using new or recycled concrete in restoration or expansion of coral reefs, which are credited with providing habitats and shelter for about 25 percent of global marine life.

During Project: CORaiL’s first year, Accenture and Intel engineers have collected upward of 40,000 images of coral growth and marine life traffic around the precast artificial reef elements (below, left), dubbed Sulu-Reef Prosthesis by their Philippines developer Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation. Fish quantities and variety indicate overall health of the Pangatalan Island reef.

Professional services and semiconductor giants Accenture and Intel Corp. are teaming with Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation to monitor an SRP installation around Pangatalan Island in the Philippines. Engineers position intelligent underwater video cameras, equipped with the Accenture Applied Intelligence Video Analytics Services Platform (VASP), to detect and photograph fish as they pass coral fragment-bearing concrete elements. VASP uses artificial intelligence, powered by Intel Xeon, FPGA Programmable Acceleration Cards and IMovidius VPU, to count and classify the marine life. Data sent to a surface dashboard provides analytics and trends in real-time, and inform researcher decisions driving reef progress. Traditional coral reef monitoring, by contrast, involves human divers manually capturing video footage and photos of coral and marine life. Beyond diver safety and time factors, it can skew observations as frightened fish hide.

“VASP enables us to tap into a rich data source—in effect doing ‘hands on’ monitoring without disrupting the underwater environment,” says Accenture Chief Analytics Officer Athina Kanioura. “The value of your data depends on how quickly you can glean insights to make decisions from it.”

“Artificial intelligence provides unprecedented opportunities to solve vexing problems,” adds Jason Mitchell, a managing director in the Accenture Communications, Media & Technology practice and client lead for Intel. “Our ecosystem of corporate and social partners for this ‘AI for social good’ project proves that strength in numbers can make a positive environmental impact.”

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