Drone enterprise aims to map the world
A new initiative from James Cook University staff will allow drone pilots to share data they collect during flights so it can be used to help map the effects of climate change and protect at-risk ecosystems.
JCU senior lecturer Dr Karen Joyce is an environmental mapping expert and long-time drone user. She is co-founder of the company GeoNadir and says the plan is to use crowd-sourced drone data to protect ecosystems.
“My co-founder Paul Mead and I aim to scale up our efforts in crowdsourcing drone data from pilots around the world, and work with researchers, land care professionals, and data analysts to build artificial intelligence (AI) models to make use of the vast amounts of data available,” said Dr Joyce.
JCU has supported the company via its Sandpit 2 Seed (S2S) fund and commercialisation assistance. The S2S funding provides up to $250,000 to JCU staff and students with the aim of bridging the gap between traditional sources of research funding and commercial funding from industry or investors. GeoNadir has also recently received a grant from the government’s Boosting Female Founders scheme.
Dr Joyce said GeoNadir currently has drone data contributors from over 40 countries, with more than 130,000 drone mapping images.
“It’s already almost impossible to process that amount of data without using AI so we will integrate it using AI and advanced geospatial analytics. That will allow us to automate environmental insights and enable other businesses to innovate and create their own products with the platform,” said Dr Joyce.
She said the team will use the new funding to increase the data library to one million images over the next 12 months.
Dr Joyce said there will be opportunities for JCU students to participate in the business.
“JCU students are already contributing to and analysing data from GeoNadir as part of their own research projects. They’re also learning more about the business side through the JCU work integrated learning internship program,” said Dr Joyce.
She said the final goal is to see GeoNadir developing the world’s most comprehensive earth monitoring system, optimised to alert decision makers about environmental degradation at an early stage.
Dr Karen Joyce