Project Details

The Smart Earth Network

Online network helps conservationists and technologists collaborate

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @smart_earth_net

  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Internet
  • Physical Computing

Dugongs – or ‘sea cows’ – have long been threatened by extinction. Relying on ‘sea meadows’ or marine grass near coastal areas, their numbers have been declining due to fishing, hunting and habitat degradation. 

It has been difficult to get an accurate sense of dugong numbers. “Traditionally, we have had to track these amazing sea creatures from the air, which is expensive and not entirely reliable,” said Chris Poonian from C3 – a marine conservation non-profit in the Philippines.

Enter Smart Earth Network (SEN), founded by Simon Hodgkinson, a long-time conservationist. Aware that biodiversity conservation was in crisis (we have lost 50% of our wildlife in the last 40 years), and that conservationists rarely had access to technological tools to assist in their work, Hodgkinson set up Smart Earth Network to promote collaborations between conservationists and technologists. 

 Conservationists post a challenge on the network, and technologists team up with them to develop a solution. This is good news for dugongs, as the site allowed C3 to team up with IoT provider Kii to create a citizen science conservation project whereby local fishermen can use smartphones and Android apps to track dugongs at sea level.  

First the fishermen – who are often illiterate – are provided with local charging facilities and given simple training in how to use the smartphone app. Then they photograph any dugongs they spot while at sea and upload the images to a central database hosted on the Kii Cloud.

30 fishermen in the Busuanga region have already taken part in the project and the results are coming in. It’s just one example of where SEN can enable tech solutions for conservationists. Many more challenges are posted on the site. Take a look at

Image courtesy of flickker photos

Last updated: 22nd of August, 2016

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