Queensland University of Technology

11/28/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/27/2023 18:27

Google Australia and QUT launch A2O Search – a sound search engine to study Australian wildlife

28th November 2023

As part of Google Australia's Digital Future Initiative, QUT and Google Australia have launched A2O Search, a new AI-powered search engine for matching animal recordings across a vast database, allowing researchers to draw insights about the health of Australia's treasured species and ecosystems.

A2O Search will enable nonprofits, universities, and governments to easily search millions of hours of audio from the Australian Acoustics Observatory and will be open sourced to the broader research community to help influence decisions about land and wildlife management.

Researchers can simply upload audio recordings of a species to find similar sounds across the database, filter by location and date, and download results for other systems. This allows researchers to draw rich insights and save time and resources.

Professor Paul Roe, Head of QUT's School of Computer Science and the Lead Researcher at the Australian Acoustics Observatory, said the development of A2O Search was a huge leap in environmental conservation.

"What we have built here is a search tool to liberate the data collected in the field. Instead of trying to manually sift through what amounts to hundreds of years of data that we could not live long enough to go through, AI does it for us," Professor Roe said.

"The reduced costs of the technology transformed environmental monitoring which has consequently transformed environmental conservation. Partnering with Google Australia allows us to share this technology with other scientists and researchers, which in turn will help land managers make informed decisions about conservation, management, and biodiversity protection."

"You have to understand the environment before you can protect it and bringing ecology and computer science together like this is the key."

Tom Denton, software engineer at Google, said:

"We are thrilled to be working with QUT to develop AI solutions to automatically detect and map wildlife sounds with greater efficiency and accuracy, starting with the threatened Glossy Black Cockatoo.

Glossy Black Cockatoo. Photo: Kristian Bell/Getty Images

"A2O Search provides a new tool for scientists and researchers to make connections between species by Searching with audio clips, saving thousands of hours of manual work and helping wildlife experts answer some of their most challenging questions.

"By harnessing Google AI and automatic audio recognition, the new search engine will provide rich insights into Australia's changing ecosystems and better protect them from deforestation, invasive species and bushfires by improving access to information that might aid conservation efforts."

This project is part of Google Australia's Digital Future Initiative - a $1B investment in Australian research, partnerships and infrastructure. As part of this effort, Google Australia is teaming up with leading Australian organisations on projects to explore the intersection of AI and sustainability, including monitoring crown-of-thorn-starfish in the Great Barrier Reef (with CSIRO), measuring the carbon sequestration potential of seagrass (with CSIRO and DFAT) and tracking wildlife in bushfire-affected areas (with WWF).

Those interested in using A2O Search can visit search.acousticobservatory.org/search.

Read more: A search engine for nature sounds: Google and QUT launch A2O Search (blog.google)

Main image: Professor Paul Roe and Dr Daniella Teixeira. Photo: Tony Phillips

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, [email protected]

After hours: 0407 585 901, [email protected]