Thursday, 29 June 2017

How to eavesdrop on urban bats with smart sensors

By Helen Briggs BBC News
29 June 2017

Scientists are studying the urban life of bats in unprecedented detail using sensors installed in a London park.

The detectors eavesdrop on the nocturnal chatter of bats, picking up their ultrasonic calls and monitoring bat activity in real-time.

The project aims to investigate the health of bat populations at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

The smart devices have the potential to monitor the diversity of all sorts of wildlife, from birds to frogs.

Kate Jones, professor of ecology and biodiversity at University College London, is one of the world's leading experts in bat conservation.

"We've created this 'Shazam' for bat activity - bat calls - so we have put sensors into the park, which are connected up to the Wi-Fi and power," she explained. 

"And we've put an intelligent device into the sensors so that they can pick up ultrasonic bat calls and then tell us if it's a bat and what species it is in real time."

Living lab
In what the researchers describe as a living lab, or Internet of Wild Things, smart bat sensors have been installed at 15 sites across the park. The monitors are automatically tracking the species present and their activity levels in real-time. 

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