I recently traveled to Sri Lanka to explore the potential of mapping a coral reef on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Connecting this customer was not so unusual, via our business development person. Perhaps even the pathway to establishing them as a solid lead wasn't so unusual, as well as validating they may be able to use our product and gain benefit from it. Where things differ dramatically is we look deeply at the impact
the customer will have using the Atlas. Blue Resources Trust of Sri Lanka have a large reef area they are trying to help establish a marine protected area for... what if they had updated high resolution satellite imagery to help with this work? What about a map of a huge portion of the reef? Would the conservation of this reef be even more effective?
The analog for us is often something like Google Maps. People were driving with paper maps before, and they drive without maps obviously. We found coral conservationists are doing their conservation work without any sort of mapping, or even current satellite imagery. So they were doing their best restoration, conservation and monitoring of their reefs without this information. What if they had a great map of their reef? Would they be even more effective? Would they be able to monitor their entire reef instead of just tiny portions or samples of the reef?
The Blue Resources researchers were well aware of the value of satellite imagery for coral conservation. The trouble is they were having to buy images from satellite companies and full cost, thousands of dollars. Which meant they couldn't monitor much of the Sri Lankan reefs, let alone updating that imagery. The Atlas could clearly help them, with a trade-off... the resolution of our images is lower, but updated. The updating turns out to be a bigger deal than a super high resolution.
We've been able to pull disparate partners together for a common project for different reasons (per partner). For Carnegie Science and University of Queensland, there are significant scientific challenges they have solved for us. For Planet, their ambition was also scientific - how to stitch seamless satellite scenes of ocean together... as well as putting their massive Dove constellation to work over the ocean. Finally, the Ruth Gates and National Geographic wanted to make all our maps credible by gathering as much data from the field as possible. Finally, for all partners, it is absolutely about contributing to the conservation of coral on a global scale. Which is where this all began, Paul asking our Impact team to save the world's corals. The Atlas is a scalable solution to do that, but we absolutely need partners to help us do it.
Allen Coral Atlas
The Allen Coral Atlas aims to empower educated coral protection and restoration, so that reefs eventually flourish. It is a platform that provides a global image of the world’s coral reefs. and goes even further showing the composition and structure of five reefs throughout the world. The platform lives among a network of environmental protection efforts and projects launched by Vulcan and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies. With Allen Coral Atlas’ unprecedented level of detail, conservationists will be able to detect changes in coral health, and better plan and target restoration. For more, visit the Allen Coral Atlas website.