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Satellite images of New Zealand could help sustainability efforts

3 months ago

A team of Kiwi scientists is using pictures taken by satellites in orbit to enable farmers to spot pollution on their land, helping make tomorrow a tiny bit greener.

University of Auckland’s Intelligent Vision System lab (IVS) is developing a way to spot pollution by applying computer vision techniques to photos available on aerospace data sets. Research fellow Trevor Gee, the project’s technical lead, said the goal is to help farmers identify pollution that they’re unaware of, warning them when things start to go south. “We can detect from changes [in the images] that something sinister is happening – the river is starting to go green or there’s a build-up of strange objects in a particular location – and that can raise an alarm for investigation.”

Having this early warning system could mean scientists will be able to identify and mitigate problems fast, rather than having pollution build up and only come to light when it’s an issue, said Gee. “What tends to happen is that pollution issues tend to build up over time and no one’s really aware of them.”

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