ESS Software

The ESS Software uite

The ESS Software suite consists of two main components, the TriCap application which runs on a Raspberry Pi SBC and controls the data acquisition system as discussed in hardware and the main ESS application which is a web application intended for hosting on AWS (although other cloud-computing platforms could be supported).

At the heart of the ESS application is a deep neural net that can detect elephants in aerial imagery. While this neural net performs exceptionally well, it still produces some false alarms that need to filtered out manually. For this purpose a verification interface is present where a team of human operators can be used to perform this final cleaning up of the data. Typical effort required at this stage is one hour of human verification effort for every hour of survey time, but since only unskilled labour is required (and in many cases volunteers are available to do this task) it constitutes a very small part of the survey cost.

Because the ESS captures overlapping images (both in the transverse and flight directions) any given elephant observation typically occurs in more than one image. It is therefore important to register multiple observations of the same animal to ensure that animals are not double counted. ESS makes this task easy by presenting a registration interface where a more experienced operator can link detections.

Once all of the sightings have been verified and registered, the ESS software will do all of the statistical calculations to produce a population estimate and error bounds on this estimate. It can also produce interactive heatmaps showing the distribution of sightings through the survey area.

The entire ESS software suite is open-sourced.

The Tricap and ESS repositories are available below.

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