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Rebecca Golden

Earth Challenge 2020: Global Food Security & Insect Populations

Get excited – it’s National Insect Week! Earth Challenge 2020 is a global citizen science partnership between the Earth Day Network, the Wilson Center, and the US State Department, and they’re rolling out two new applications supported by Kinetica today, to address food security and insect populations. Here’s how:

The threat to global food production posed by monocultures is significant. Using the Earth Challenge app, you can do your part by labeling pictures of different crops. These labeled images will then be used to cross-validate Earth observations made by the European Space Agency Once citizen scientists have labeled enough images, machine learning algorithms can be taught to label the remaining unmarked agricultural land globally! This means scientists can identify monocultures that threaten soil nutrients, native plants, and the longer-term diversity and sustainability of the global food supply chain. This is something we can do now, before we lose key biodiverse ecosystems forever.

Earth Challenge 2020 is also releasing an app to identify insect populations, particularly three types of bees: honey bees, carpenter bees, and bumblebees. The app will help identify where native insects, like bumble bees, are located – a key indicator of healthy ecosystems. The app teaches users to photograph and correctly identify insects, and then upload and tag those photos by type and location. Kinetica artificial intelligence models learn what differentiates a carpenter bee from a honey bee, for example, and from there, can trawl the citizen-submitted photos to verify the labeling. The app running on Kinetica can collect and display the data about what types of bees are where. With this information, we can see which areas are missing native bees, and in turn, face a loss of native plants and crops that need native bees for pollination. This is another way that we can use our access to more data than ever before to make progress on conservation efforts.

Read more about it in the press release here, or download the mobile app for Apple or Android to contribute your own piece of citizen science.

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