Mallon Technology Finish Runner Up in Northern Ireland SME Challenge

Mon 9th Jul 2018

Northern Ireland SME Challenge: Habitat Connectivity NI Project

We are excited to announce that our Habitat Connectivity NI project was recently announced as runner up in the Northern Ireland SME Challenge: Space for Sustainable Living.

The challenge, sponsored by Airbus Defence & Space, Digital Catapult NI, Invest NI & the Northern Ireland Space Office, tasked entrants to exploit Earth Observation data to create applications under the theme 'Space for Sustainable Living'. As well as the competition element to the challenge, it is hoped that the different entries will raise awareness of the benefits to the economy, public sector services and the wider community that can be driven through the exploitation of Earth Observation data.

Notice of our runner up spot in the challenge was delivered to us by Alistair Lamb, Manager R&D - Airbus Defence & Space and Michael Polson from Invest NI. Calvin McCoy & Marion Murphy were in Belfast to receive the notification and to discuss our Habitat Connectivity NI Project with which the judges had been thoroughly impressed by.

Habitat Connectivity NI Project

Our entry into the challenge focused on Habitat connectivity in local areas. Habitat connectivity has been described as 'the degree to which the landscape facilitates animal movement and other ecological flows. Wildlife needs to move - mobility is the key to survival for many wildlife species'. In particular, the project aimed to address some key questions for habitat connectivity analysis:

  • Which habitat patches & habitat links are most important for a species to be able to live & move through the landscape
  • What impact do economic, social & environmental changes have on habitat connectivity in an area
  • How can that habitat connectivity in an area be improved
  • How has habitat connectivity for a given species changed over time in a particular area

Our entry into the challenges focused on providing a service through which the analysis of Earth Observation data can help to improve economic and environmental decision making in Northern Ireland. Using Open Source tools we were able to extract tree & hedgerow information from optical imagery. When combined with shortest path & probability analysis and connectivity importance analysis we were able to produce a final map of habitat connectivity importance for a particular town in Northern Ireland.

For the project, we focused on the movement of hedgehogs through the environment. Hedgehogs were chosen for the study as they have a positive impact on their environment, keeping many common garden pests at bay, but whose movement across its habitat can be severely restricted by new infrastructure & buildings.

Benefits of the Project

The Habitat Connectivity NI project has the potential to benefit a wide range of stakeholders in Northern Ireland and could be use to provide assessments for any given species. Benefits to the project include:

  • Better environmental impact assessments to evaluate the effects of activities upon the environment & local ecology
  • Better planning to ensure a more harmonious balance between economic activity & environmental sustainability
  • Focused plans to improve the welfare of particular species based on their unique movements through the landscape
  • Evaluation & measurement of how changes to the landscape will actually impact upon a species habitat connectivity
  • A model that can be adapted to the characteristics & movements of different species
  • Integration of high resolution satellite data that can produce small scale & very detailed results

Our Experience

We have over 20 years in the use of Earth Observation data & Remote Sensing techniques, that have been used to help clients in a range of different industry sectors. This has included the production of flood hazard & flood risk maps for state bodies as well as the use of Copernicus satellite imagery in determining how to identify, detect & map wildfire events

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about our entry into Northern Ireland SME Challenge or on how our GIS & Remote Sensing expertise could benefit your orgainsation, get in touch - info@mallontechnology.com