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Saving the lovable koala: How artificial intelligence from SAS is being used in the fight


And the 2019-2020 bushfire season scorched millions of acres, killing 33 people and destroying thousands of homes. The fires also decimated wildlife, with an estimated 3 billion animals in the path of the flames.

Australia’s iconic koala has seen a steep population drop and is now endangered. Among the causes? Climate-related weather events like fires and floods, as well as habitat destruction from development.

Technology drives rapid response and resilience

Attentis, an Australian technology firm, has designed and manufactured a range of intelligent sensors that provide local officials and emergency response teams with real-time information and monitoring. These sensors are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning from SAS, the leader in analytics.

“Our sensor networks help monitor, measure and mitigate many of the effects of climate change, from fire ignition to flooding to air quality, soil and environmental health, and much more,” said Attentis Managing Director and founder Cameron McKenna. “Attentis’ multi-sensors are now equipped with AI-embedded SAS IoT analytics so that local officials, for the first time, can identify conditions and environmental factors – such as fire ignitions and rapid water-level rise – and respond immediately, while continuing to measure and monitor live environmental conditions to aid situational awareness.”

Powering the world’s largest environmental-monitoring network

Attentis has created the world’s first integrated, high-speed sensor network throughout Australia’s Latrobe Valley. Today, this network is the world’s largest real-time environmental-monitoring network.

Covering 913 square miles, the Latrobe Valley Information Network and its array of AI-powered sensors collects and delivers vital data that has improved local agriculture, utilities and forest industries, as well as emergency services.

Thousands of local and neighboring residents now access this data on a regular basis to monitor rainfall, air quality, fire starts, weather and more.

Collecting more real-time situational data via Attentis sensor networks and quickly uncovering key insights from that data using SAS Analytics for IoT means that local officials can make better, faster and more informed decisions that protect citizens, property and natural resources.

“SAS and Attentis boost the resiliency of the people of Latrobe Valley in the face of fires, floods and other challenges brought about by climate change,” said McKenna.

Protecting koalas and endangered species with AI

Historical data can also be used by government and academic researchers looking to protect endangered species like the koala. Understanding and monitoring threats to koalas – such as bushfires and floods – can help scientists assess the health of the population and develop strategies to sustain koala numbers.

SAS AI technologies are already used to protect other endangered species. See how WildTrack uses SAS Analytics to protect cheetahs, rhinos and more.

Artificial Intelligence of Things

Advanced analytics like AI help harness value from the Internet of Things (IoT). Data management, cloud and high-performance computing techniques help manage and analyze the influx of IoT data from sensors like those built by Attentis. Insights from streaming analytics and AI underpin digital transformation efforts in a host of industries – retail, manufacturing, energy, transportation, government and more – that improve efficiency, convenience and security.

“With fires and floods, every second matters. By combining Attentis’ intelligent sensors with our cloud-native SAS Analytics for IoT solution, we’re accelerating the speed and accuracy at which officials can respond to these environmental threats,” said Jason Mann, Vice President of IoT at SAS. “For example, with intelligent sensor networks and predictive analytics, emergency responders can now continuously and accurately assess river heights, rainfall and soil moisture in real-time. By closely monitoring and analyzing this data, these officials can quickly act on new insights and issue early flood warnings to people in high-risk areas who may be affected – or inundated – by severe weather.”

Saving the lovable koala: How artificial intelligence from SAS is being used in the fight