Revolutionary Big Data Environmental Analysis Indicates Declining Animal Populations in Studied Tropical Forests

HP-powered technology develops early warning system for threatened species

BARCELONA, Spain — HP today announced an innovative collaboration with Conservation International (CI)—a leading non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting nature for people—to dramatically improve the accuracy and speed of analysis of data collection in environmental science.  

The initiative, called HP Earth Insights, delivers near-real-time analytics and is already yielding new information that indicates a decline in a significant percentage of species monitored. The project serves as an early warning system for conservation efforts, enabling proactive responses to environmental threats. 

HP Earth Insights applies HP’s big data technology to the ecological research being conducted across 16 tropical forests around the world by CI, the Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society, as part of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network. Tropical forests are home to approximately 30 million species—half of all the plants and animals on earth—and generate 40 percent of the earth’s oxygen. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, tropical forests are vanishing at a rate of about 18,000 square miles (4.6 million hectares) per year. Data and analysis from HP Earth Insights will be shared with protected area managers to develop policies regarding hunting and other causes of species loss in these ecosystems.

“HP Earth Insights is transforming environmental science. Until now, the right data, the technology and scale have been noticeably missing from our field,” said Peter Seligmann, chairman and chief executive officer, Conservation International. “What once took a team of scientists weeks, months or more to analyze can now be done by a single person in hours.”

The most recent findings have revealed:

  • Of the 275 species being monitored, 60 species—or 22 percent—are either significantly decreasing in population or likely decreasing compared to baseline levels. 
  • Findings indicate 33 of the species being monitored—or 12 percent—have significantly decreased in numbers. Among these are: the sun bear and the wild boar found in Malaysia (Pasoh Forest Reserve), the agile mangabey found in the Republic of Congo (Nouabalé Ndoke), and the greater grison found in Ecuador (Yasuni).
  • The population of the Western Gorilla, which lives in the Republic of Congo (Nouabalé Ndoke) and is considered a Critically Endangered species, is likely declining—approximately 10 percent from the 2009 baseline—according to new data.
  • The following insectivores are likely declining: the moonrat and masked palm civet found in Malaysia (Pasoh Forest Reserve), the banded mongoose, four-toed elephant shrew and checkered elephant shrew found in Tanzania (Udzungwa), the northern tamandua found in Costa Rica (Volcàn Barva) and large tree shrew found in Indonesia (Bukit Barisan).

For this project, HP is providing a customized solution that harnesses the power of its big data offerings to address the challenges faced by CI scientists:

  • The HP Vertica Analytics Platform—a next-generation software tool designed to manage and analyze massive and fast-growing volumes of data with unprecedented speed and accuracy—will be used to address the needs of CI scientists to collect, store and assess a variety of data. The HP Vertica Analytics Platform is a cornerstone of HP HAVEn, which provides the ability to manage, transform and analyze the full spectrum of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data for customers and partners with complex data challenges.
  • The Wildlife Picture Index (WPI) Analytics System—a dashboard and analytics tool built by HP Enterprise Services—allows for the visualization of user-friendly, data-driven insights to be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Currently, HP Earth Insights manages three Terabytes of critical biodiversity information, including more than 1.4 million photos and more than 3 million climate measurements. The project analyzes, with unprecedented speed, the ever-increasing inputs related to species, vegetation, precipitation, temperature, carbon stocks, humidity and more, gathered from camera traps and climate sensors in 16 countries to deliver findings about the environment that previously were unknown.

“In an effort to help create a more sustainable world, HP Earth Insights uses our products and services to deliver near real-time analytics to provide scientists with more accurate and more actionable environmental information, ” said Meg Whitman, president and chief executive officer, HP. “The results of the early warning system demonstrate the ability of HP to use big data to address the world’s most complex challenges for our customers and partners across sectors, industries and organizations.”

HP Earth Insights makes its findings publicly available to empower policymakers and scientists to proactively respond to environmental threats as they emerge and work together to find solutions.

“Tropical forests are a vital part of the planet's life-support system—we need them for the air we breathe and to support a diverse and healthy ecosystem for agriculture, medicine and recreation,” said Seligmann. “We know that we can’t protect what we don’t measure, which is why CI is extremely focused on accelerating our research and having the most accurate and current data to ensure that we are doing the very best to safeguard our natural resources.” 

HP Earth Insights is delivering analytics nine times faster than previously available and generating useable trend information on species and the impacts of climate, people and land use with the goal of helping to protect these important resources.

HP Earth Insights demonstrates HP’s end-to-end capabilities in action, from HP ElitePads that meet the mobility requirements of the scientists to capture data in the tropical forests, to HP ProLiant servers powering back-end data systems, to building out the existing cloud component to meet the project’s growing data needs. HP is bringing to CI its customized Solutions for the New Style of IT—the convergence of big data, mobility, security and cloud. 

HP is focused on driving innovation across its business and is committed to applying unique technology solutions for the New Style of IT to meet diverse customers’ and partners’ needs.

Additional information, including a fact sheet and b-roll, is available here, and below are links to the photo gallery as well as Meg Whitman’s keynote video:

About Conservation International

Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and its global biodiversity to promote the long-term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. CI employs more than 800 staff in nearly 20+ countries on four continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

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