What does a multinational Indian software company have to do with conserving the world’s largest marine ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland? Plenty if you are Sahaj Software, an artisanal technology services company working across India, Australia and the US.

The company is currently partnering with the Citizens of Great Barrier Reef (CGBR), a people-powered conservation organisation, by providing the technology and software infrastructure necessary to enable a census of the Great Reef. The initiative is reportedly one of the world’s “largest marine citizen-science effort” to fill critical data gaps about the Great Barrier Reef.

Surveying at Lizard Island

Surveying at Lizard Island

Marine conservation

Images of the reef are collated with the help of citizens — scientists, environmentalists and committed volunteers who submit underwater pictures of the part of the reef they have surveyed. These images are then analysed to create a data bank accessible to those working towards the conservation of the marine ecosystem.

This is where Sahaj Software comes in. Its expertise in platform and data engineering has helped create an ecosystem of partners and citizens powered by an intelligent platform that augments and amplifies human contributions towards conservation. The technology solution from Sahaj engages with citizens while providing valuable intelligence to the scientific and conservation community.

The Great Reef Census has taken off well. Says Akash Agrawal. Co-Founder and CEO Sahaj Software: “By joining forces with CGBR, we have been able to mobilise and scale their cause… Initially, only 5 per cent of these reefs were regularly surveyed. We’ve extended that to 15 per cent (of 2,300 km), which is a massive area covered.”

Tech support

Speaking on the partnership, Andy Ridley, CEO, CGBR, said in a press statement, “The Great Barrier Reef is not just an environmental icon, it is also an emotional one. What we do here reflects how we treat our oceans and marine life around the world…. We rely on Sahaj to rationalise the process and utilise technology in the best possible way…”

What can India learn from the collaborative effort between Sahaj Software and CGBR? Afterall, India too has coral reefs along its coastline. Notes Agrawal: “By using our technology, Indian conservationists can identify corals easily, enabling more effective conservation strategies. Seeing our technology’s success in conserving the world’s largest coral reef system validates its potential for India’s reef protection.”