Climate change is degrading coral reefs faster than science can track. ReefCloud is a transformational digital tool that provides insights into the state of coral reefs 700 times faster than a human and with 90% accuracy, helping scientists work together in real-time to help protect our precious reef ecosystems.

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  • Coral reefs occupy only 1% of the ocean floor but are home to over a quarter of all marine life. Over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income and protection. Climate change, overfishing, pollution and other threats have already severely damaged half of the world’s corals and it’s predicted that by 2050, 90% will be critically endangered if action is not taken now. Globally, scientists compare images of coral reefs to inform the way we manage and protect them. To date, this has been a painstakingly slow and laborious manual process – which means critical action is delayed.

  • Increased speed in diagnosing issues and managing them is critical to optimise reef protection. Using machine learning and AI, ReefCloud automates data processing and analysis of coral reef images, enabling the global reef community to observe changes in real-time to determine the most effective action needed. The data is open source on a global platform, overcoming the challenge of limited capacities for monitoring, especially in developing countries. Through design research, prototyping and testing we overcame the challenge of presenting complex data in a way that makes sense to a range of audiences - marine biologists, policy-makers, reef communities and the public.

  • Open source, real-time data is available to the global reef preservation community, democratising access to insights. With over 1.3 million images from 24 countries, the algorithm has created over 62 million data points on the health of the world's reefs to date. Interactive dashboards, report cards and data access tools enable rapid interpretation, reporting and communication on coral reef conditions across the world. ReefCloud also directly supports tracking of global targets and initiatives for SDG 14 and the Convention on Biological Diversity by providing insights from a local to a global scale and suggesting course corrections to meet desired outcomes.

  • While coral reefs are a critical part of our ocean ecosystems, protecting them is not just the right thing to do ecologically. Ensuring the survival of coral reefs is critical to the health and livelihoods of reef communities such as those in developing nations reliant on fishing and tourism. The degradation of coral reefs represents a huge monetary loss —$375 billion annually. WWF estimates the global asset value of reefs at nearly US$800 billion and found that sustainably-managed and intact reefs could unlock additional net benefit streams of US$30 billion per year. ReefCloud is open-access technology that is simple to use. Those monitoring reefs can upload photos of the reef and associated information to ReefCloud where AI will identify corals, analyse conditions and provide data and analysis in rapid time. This information can be accessed and built upon by other users. This global collaboration tool brings together the best of data, design, technology and scientific insights to help people easily understand the current health of reefs, and help identify the cause of underlying issues to protect these vital ecosystems, food security and livelihoods as well as preserve reefs for future generations.