How pandas can transform your work – the furry kind, that is!

A panda bear

Researchers in China and Singapore are planning the train an AI to identify pandas, the furry ones, not the Python libraries!

A unique challenge

Pandas have few biological markers to make it easy to identify individual animals. They also tend to lead mostly solitary lives in the wild and that makes tracking and monitoring panda populations tricky. It also complicates things for their patient keepers, who need to regulate their feeding and care schedules. Wan Yongqing, a Beijing photographer who has worked on panda photos for over a decade admits that all the pandas look identical to him.

Two pandas with identical markings and facial expressions.

A team from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding are working with staff from Nanyang Technological University and Sichuan Normal University on the process. Head of the Chengdu Base, Zhang Zhihe, hopes that the project will help with conservation management. There has been some good news, as bear populations have stabilised, and they are now registered as vulnerable rather than endangered. Accurate data on bear numbers has also been collected in a panda census for many years, but that data is not always at a granular enough level. Information on age, sex ratios, their birthrate and mortality may help with conservation decisions, especially when some wild bear groups have fewer than 10 members.

Pandas have massive public appeal. The live panda feed from the Chengdu Research Centre (which I wholly recommend!) has an impressive 68 million followers, almost all from the UK, USA and Japan. The antics and clumsiness of pandas has made them universally loved and a worthy symbol for conservation work globally.

From a business perspective, the work of these teams may also filter down to more accurate image recognition technologies in general, especially as much of the data used to train the machine will be from video content, rather than static images.

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Datacamp - Learning Tracks

All IoA members can use the installation-free Data Camp environments to build, practice and test your skills in Data Camp. We have two custom built tracks to allow you to ensure your training is on course to fulfil your career goals. We’ve recommended two tracks of knowledge and analytics study aligned to all of the 7 first years in the Data Competency Framework.

Which Track is for me?

Business analyst with R: This track will take you through spreadsheet skills and BI tools in the early years, and build up your coding skills to use R environments in the later years with more challenging data projects.

Python analyst: This track goes straight into Python coding and will take you all the way to working with unstructured data and deep learning techniques.

Look for the track name and year when you search for a course.

With our custom tracks, we’ve selected the skills that we know employers are looking for but remember that you can also take any of the 300 courses and assessments and projects any time you want and add that to your CPD records, too. You can find a post discussing the aims and structure of the tracks here


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