The Internet of…Elephants? Using Tech for Conservation at TechFestNW

Three visionaries are using tech to revolutionize conservation efforts across the planet. Find out how at TechFestNW 2016

You know that Fitbit you use to make sure you get your cardio in? What if we used the same technology and principles behind that device to track elephant populations in Africa to help prevent poaching?

This is the idea that our triple team of conservation-minded main stage speakers—Ted Schmitt of Vulcan, Inc., Matthew McKown of Conservation Metrics and Jake Wall of Save the Elephants—bring to TechFestNW 2016 with their talk: The Internet of Earth, Leveraging Software and Sensors to Save the Planet.

Ted Schmitt is the conservation technology advisor for Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc.. He's been involved with Vulcan's Great Elephant Census project—an initiative funded by Allen to solve a core problem of elephant conservation: No one knows how many African elephants there actually are.

The Great Elephant Census is utilizing small planes to track elephant populations all across Africa, oftentimes in countries that have either never tracked their own populations or haven't done so in years. Schmitt built a database that collates and analyzes the data so it can be used to monitor and protect elephant populations in the future.

Matthew McKown is the CEO of Conservation Metrics, a Clinton Global Initiative-partnered effort to use modern, automated technology to simplify traditionally labor intensive wildlife surveys with remote sensors and statistical data, making conservation projects not only cheaper, but larger and more effective.

Conservation Metrics' technology allows it to undertake projects that would be extremely difficult with traditional efforts, such as using acoustic monitoring technology to collect data on Hawaiian seabirds whose remoteness and fragility would make them almost impossible to otherwise track.

Jake Wall has worked with Kenya's Save the Elephants, a non-profit dedicated to ending poaching and international ivory trafficking, since 2003. Wall is a research scientist and STE's database manager, who worked with them to develop STE's real-time monitoring system for tracking elephants. Wall uses geographic information system and remote sensing technology to study elephant movements throughout South and Central Africa, protecting elephants from poachers in real time.

Join Ted Schmitt, Matthew McKown, Jake Wall and our other excellent speakers at TechFestNW 2016: April 25-26 at The Armory in Portland, Oregon's Pearl District. For more information or tickets to TFNW, visit