Game Theory to Protect Wild Life

author: Bo An, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University
published: April 3, 2017,   recorded: March 2017,   views: 13
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Description

Poaching is a serious threat to the conservation of key species and whole ecosystems. While conducting foot patrols is the most commonly used approach in many countries to prevent poaching, such patrols often do not make the best use of limited patrolling resources. To remedy this situation, PAWS (Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security) was proposed as a game-theoretic decision aid to optimize the use of patrolling resources. This talk reports on PAWS’s significant evolution from a proposed decision aid to a regularly deployed application, reporting on the lessons from the first tests in Africa in Spring 2014, through its continued evolution since then, to current regular use in Southeast Asia and plans for future worldwide deployment. We outline key technical advances that lead to PAWS’s regular deployment: (i) incorporating complex topographic features, e.g., ridgelines, in generating patrol routes; (ii) handling uncertainties in species distribution (game theoretic payoffs); (iii) ensuring scalability for patrolling large-scale conservation areas with fine-grained guidance; and (iv) handling complex patrol scheduling constraints.

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