INFORMS Open Forum

#Data4Wildlife Challenge to find new data solutions to tackle online wildlife crime

  • 1.  #Data4Wildlife Challenge to find new data solutions to tackle online wildlife crime

    Posted 01-10-2022 20:35

    #data4wildlife  is a conservation challenge for operations researchers, data scientists and engineers. This event will take place virtually on 29/30 January 2022, and will feature expert mentoring, panel discussions from world-leading wildlife crime experts, global networking opportunities and the exciting opportunity to develop new solutions for wildlife.
    Currently participants from over 17 different countries have registered, but there is still yet time to apply for the event before the January 12th deadline. Sign up for free today ( and use your professional skills to help us develop new data-led solutions to tackle the illegal wildlife trade online.


    The Motivation: Historically, the top three factors driving the global biodiversity extinction crisis have been habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and illegal poaching. Over about the past decade, a new factor has propelled into the spotlight: online crime. Online wildlife crime causes species decline. The algorithmic amplification of wildlife crime via social media platforms, mobile applications and high-speed broadband access is a grave concern for nongovernmental organizations working to combat online crime.

    The Challenge will look at 3 areas:(1) creating a benchmark dataset for wildlife crime images, text and emojis on social media platforms;(2) developing a virtual or spatialized supply chain for specific animal or animal products and identify the places and times where virtual and physical spaces touch; and(3) creating a wildlife crime aggregator in multiple languages as well as creating a database of aggregated media that can be used to deter online wildlife crime.


    The Event:  Bright Tide has partnered up with University of MarylandWorcester Polytechnic InstituteFocused Conservation to launch the #DATA4WILDLIFE Challenge. The #DATA4WILDLIFE Challenge is free to apply for and will take place on 29/30 January 2022. You can sign up to the Challenge here (deadline for applications is on 12 January 2022):   Funding is provided by National Science Foundation-funded planning grant (Division of Information & Intelligent Systems Award IIS-2039951.

    The winning teams from the challenge will be announced on 7 February 2022 and will receive a number of prizes/mentorship opportunities from innovation strategists, operations engineers and global wildlife crime leaders.  All participants will also receive a completion certificate for attending and there are prestigious professional mentorship prizes up for grabs for winning submissions.

    Renata Konrad
    Associate Professor
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute
    Worcester MA