Innovative solutions developed at Zoohackathon, New Delhi
New Delhi, India, 24th September 2018—Coders, wildlife enthusiasts, and designers worked together over an intense two-days to find solutions to problems related to illegal wildlife trade during Zoohackathon 2.0, New Delhi, an event jointly organised by the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, TRAFFIC, and WWF-India at the WWF-India Secretariat.
Team Zoocchini from IIIT-D won the challenge while Team Error: Error not Found from the University of Delhi were the runners up. The winning team will now compete for the global prize, winners of which will be announced on World Cheetah Day, 4th December 2018.
Team Zoocchini came up with a unique web tool called “Claw Net”, an interactive platform that demystifies wildlife laws, making it easier for the general public to understand and differentiate between illegal and legal wildlife trade. The tool will help generate information for mapping out trade routes for law enforcement agencies using a 3D-rendered globe.
Team Error: Error not Found developed a voice activated interface called “Wildlife Guru” that provides details about wildlife products, wildlife species in trade, laws, and organisations that can be contacted to report a crime, etc. The model could be further developed to work alongside currently available Virtual Assistants.
Overall, nine teams, including 45 participants, worked tirelessly for the two days to understand the various issues related to wildlife trafficking and then develop tech-based solutions to curb poaching, track wildlife criminals, raise awareness among wildlife consumers, and help stop illegal wildlife trade. The teams were mentored by wildlife experts from TRAFFIC and the San Diego Zoo, USA, as well as IT and communications experts.
The teams presented their ideas/solutions in front of a panel of judges that included: Dr Gabriel Miller, Senior Scientist, Research and Development at San Diego Zoo Global; Dr Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscape Programme, WWF-India; Ms. Julia Kennedy, Deputy Director, Clean Energy and Environment Officer, USAID; J. Dinesh Kumar, Comp Programmer, U.S. Embassy; and Ashish Choudhary, Senior Software Engineer, Golden Technology International Pvt. Ltd.
Mr Anoop Kumar Naik, Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority and Ms. Tilotma Varma, Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau spoke at the opening session of Zoohackathon 2.0, New Delhi on 21at September 2018 about various aspects of wildlife crime including how it has become an organised criminal activity, and encouraged young people to find new and innovative solutions to secure the future for wildlife.
Ms. Victoria Peabody, Public Affairs Specialist, Bureau of Oceans, Environmental, and Scientific Affairs, U.S Department of State said, “The New Delhi Zoohackathon was a great success and the participants were inspiring as they created many innovative solutions to end wildlife crime”.
Dr Saket Badola, IFS, Head of TRAFFIC’s India office presented certificates and prizes to the winning teams alongside Robert Garverick, Minister Counselor for Economic, Environmental, Science, and Technology Affairs at the U.S Embassy New Delhi.
Dr Badola said: “Illegal wildlife trade is a serious issue threatening the survival of many wildlife species and I am glad to see so much youthful support to help curb this menace. Zoohackathon is a platform that brings together intelligent minds to work together to find solutions to the current problems of wildlife crime. I congratulate and thank everyone for taking out time to be here and for supporting this important cause”.
The first Zoohackathon events took place in 2016 in London, Sydney, Washington D.C., San Diego, and Seattle. India’s first Zoohackathon was also held at the WWF-India Secretariat in New Delhi in October 2017, while Mumbai’s first Zoohackathon was organized by the U.S. Consulate, Mumbai, TRAFFIC, and WWF-India and took place on 15–16th September 2018 at the Veermata Jijamata Udyaan, Mumbai.
For further information about Zoohackathon, please visit www.trafficindia.org; www.zoohackathon.com. Follow Zoohackathon on social media at @StateDeptOES, @USAndIndia, #Zoohackathon, and #EndWildlifeTrafficking @TRAFFIC, India Office.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is responsible for the majority of overseas development assistance from the United States Government and works to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing security and prosperity for America and the world