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The Mojave Desert: Data for tortoises and tires


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How technology could help
restore the natural balance of the
Mojave Desert

The greatest threat to the natural world is human development.


Conservation Scientist,
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

When TNC , one of the widest-reaching environmental organisations in the world, makes such a strong statement, it’s vital to listen.

One example in the natural world where the threat from human activity is increasingly being felt is the Mojave Desert, USA . It’s a rich landscape with a vast variety of wildlife. For millions of years, desert tortoises, golden eagles, insects and unique cacti have called this desert their home.

The desert’s open, sandy plains are also a popular location for off-roading, which, when done illegally, can pose a threat to its fragile ecosystem. Across such a huge expanse, it can be almost impossible to locate off-roading trails. It’s therefore difficult to know where to intervene, and help prevent ecosystem degradation.

The team for the challenge

To help protect the desert’s flora and fauna, Capgemini brought together experts from different disciplines.

From data science expertise to earth science experience, our team had the diverse set of skills needed to solve this unique challenge.


Stakeholder Manager, Capgemini

An integrated team of AI specialists, earth scientists and project managers collaborated with The Nature Conservancy experts and dedicated professionals who care for the Mojave Desert every day. Together, they needed to find a possible solution.


Using AI to protect nature

The team believed that AI and machine learning could trace the paths and erosion rates of off-road trails, and lead them to an answer. With that in mind, Capgemini first identified signs of landscape and ecosystem degradation in a specific area, then developed AI algorithms to remotely detect and highlight them. This will allow them to trace trails from the sky – a task that would have been near-impossible from the ground.

Off-road trails in a desert environment are tricky to detect. But the ‘eye-in-the-sky’ advanced AI tool makes it easier to proactively anticipate off-roading activities, and allow timely intervention to prevent ecosystem degradation.


Senior AI and Earth Science Expert, Capgemini

Satellite imagery has let us look at entire zones of the desert in one go, and to identify their problems in one glance.


Data Scientist, Capgemini

Using satellite imagery and AI algorithms, TNC will be better equipped to identify off-road trails in specific areas. They will be able to match data to the positions of nesting sites, migration routes, and individual communities of species, and to eventually re-route the off-road tracks to avoid them.

In the future, we can tailor AI solutions with particular species in mind. It’s all part of a team effort to help humanity and nature coexist in this unique part of the world.

Mojave footer

With the different layers that are provided with the AI software, we can track vegetation change, inform future restoration and habitat creation.

Project Manager

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