Meet National Geographic Fellow and Conservation Technologist Shah Selbe, who will talk to us about how integrated crowdsourcing, smartphone apps, drones, satellite data, and sensors can be used to address conservation issues, including illegal poaching and the monitoring of protected areas. Shah has traveled to faraway places such as the Okavango Delta in Africa, one of the richest wildlife areas on Earth and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From this amazing savanna, Shah and his team used state-of-the art sensors to record personal data about expedition members, water quality data, and animal and bird sightings. Mobile computer stations allow sensors to be programmed.
During this session, Shah will talk more broadly about the intersection between conservation and technology and how we’ve made strides in protecting our planet through break-through technology applications. Shah’s Okavango Delta story, and others like it, are making history. We are at a very unique time in history, where humans have never had a greater impact on the planet and conservation of its wildlife. The anthropocene has been marked by the largest losses in wilderness in human history and extinction rates that are 1000 times higher than baseline. However, we are also witnessing a phenomenal age of technological innovation. Selbe's work brings the two together to build the field of conservation technology to save some of the greatest species on this planet.
Shah Selbe is an engineer and conservation technologist who works with communities, NGOs, and developing countries to identify and deploy technologies that can help with their greatest conservation challenges. Past projects have integrated crowdsourcing, smartphone apps, drones, satellite data, and sensors to address conservation issues, including illegal poaching and the monitoring of protected areas. I was named as part of the National Geographic Society's Emerging Explorer class in 2013, and named a Fellow in 2016. In 2016, Selbe founded the first solely conservation technology focused makerspace and prototyping lab named Conservify. The organization focuses on how open source technologies can be leveraged to gather data and empower local communities through innovative tools aimed at changing our planet’s future. In the last year, Conservify has built and deployed low-cost conservation drones for coastal monitoring, open-source environmental monitoring sensor networks in the Okavango Delta, acoustic monitoring buoys in the Pacific, seismic recording stations in Canadian glaciers, and a water sampling robot in Peru’s Boiling River. Shah is also a New England Aquarium Ocean Conservation Fellow and PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. In development are an open source hardware and web open science platform called FieldKit (fieldkit.org) that will help field researchers, students, and explorers share live environmental and field data on an interactive open data site. This includes various types of sensors (weather, water quality, air quality and a handheld version that can be used during Bio Blitzes and expeditions), a smartphone app, and a website. FieldKit will include an extensive library of open source sensor systems that can be used in science and conservation research.