Project Description

In March 2020, AV Technology was approached by SSE, a leading developer, owner and operator of renewable energy across the UK and Ireland. We were required to design, build and install a cutting-edge and bespoke image capture technology solution and deliver this data to Avanade who specialise in innovative global software services and solutions to enterprises using the Microsoft platform.

The driver for this new and innovative approach to environmental monitoring was to achieve compliance with the consent conditions for the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, a fully operational 84 turbine offshore wind farm who currently provide green energy to over 450,000 homes in the area. As part of SSE’s corporate responsibility, it was necessary to create a technologically advanced monitoring system to ensure that the native puffins were not adversely affected by the wind farm and that there was no impact on usual breeding behaviour or puffin activity. The Dunbeath Puffin Colony on the remote Isle of May is currently home to 80,000 puffins during the breeding season.

The proof of concept’s aim was to provide image recognition using artificial intelligence to accurately count, identify and record adult puffin populations and monitor breeding activities. The introduction of the green centroid tracker that is assigned on recognition, allows a puffin to be tracked for 10 frames if no longer recognised; this supports improved accuracy and reduces the potential for double counting.

Excite Technology’s project team was made up of experts in their own specialist fields including Cinematography, Information Technology, Electrical Engineering, Audio Visual, Mechanical Engineering and Project Management. Using the bespoke hardware designed and built by Excite Technology and the AI Image recognition technology developed by Microsoft, SSE were able to achieve data accuracy of 85%. With no previous data to build on, this number can only to be improved upon with time and potential model upgrades, to over 95%.

With extreme environmental conditions to consider, the system has been built to the highest marine-grade standards capable of operation during high coastal winds of up to 90mph, ice, salt air, and temperature extremes between -20 and 40+ degrees.

This camera system, being the first of its kind, provides high resolution, low light images to work with the fading light from the sun. The external enclosures they sit within contain condensation heaters inside to keep the hardware dry and cool; a water nozzle and small wiper can be activated remotely to clean and clear the camera screen when required. Using secure data encryption the client’s video files are synchronised to a secure sever via environmentally protected local storage. A cellular 4G connection which carefully load balances data between multiple carriers ensures reliable data transfer to its final destination.

With the immense success of this venture, we have already started working on a new project monitoring the migrating salmon population in the Highlands.

Project Details