Project Description

Sensing In the Forest

The Lipman Family Lemur Forest at the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens is serving as a test site for a kit of environmental and computer vision sensors designed to monitor environmental conditions as well as utilization, occupancy, and activity.

Lemurs are primates native to Madagascar. The Lipman Family Lemur Forest is the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the country and one of the very few to feature numerous large, natural trees to climb. The habitat is home to seven different species of lemurs, which can be seen interacting, relaxing and leaping from tree to tree.

Spatial analytics firm RoundhouseOne, a spinoff company of MKThink, installed the sensors in the habitat as part of a research contract with the Office of Naval Research, which stipulated testing the prototype kits in a real-world setting.

Six spot sensors deployed throughout the forest collect data on temperature, relative humidity, illuminance (light), and motion. Two spot sensors on the viewing platform detect visitor movements and monitor visitor traffic. A camera, affixed to the side of the viewing platform, records video of lemur activity.

Two hub boards installed under the viewing platform process and locally store incoming data for subsequent download and analysis. The environmental sensor board collects environmental data both locally and remotely from the six spot sensors in the habitat. The computer vision board processes the video feed of the lemurs to capture data on the animals’ rate of motion and paths of movement, locations in the habitat, and locations relative to other lemurs.

The rich dataset provides countless opportunities for multivariate analysis. The RoundhouseOne team is currently analyzing the data using their 4daptive analytic platform to identify relationships, patterns, and correlations among the collected data points. For example, the relationship between outdoor temperature, popular viewing times, and lemur activity; the impact of visitor presence on lemur behavior; or the effect of habitat stimuli on lemur activity and visitor dwell time.

The San Francisco Zoo and Gardens will apply the analytic insights to inform design and program improvements for the animal habitats. A truly rare and notable case of “animal testing” that serves animal health and wellbeing!