Predictive analytics was previously employed by IBM primarily to assist businesses and marketers, but at last week’s START Summit, they announced that they are helping wildlife charity, Marwell, use predictive analytics to save the lives of the Grevy’s zebra, a species that only has 2,500 members left in the wild. Predictive analytics is a process where information and data are extracted from previous situations, the variables of which are then used to predict future situations, and IBM’s latest foray into software for social good raises numerous other possibilities for where predictive analytics could be employed.
In this instance, IBM is surveying local herdsmen about their feelings and attitudes toward the zebras, as well as their views on looming threats of their extinction. “By improving Marwell’s insight into herders’ attitudes through the surveys, and combining this with information from aerial surveys, camera traps, and radio collars on the zebras, Marwell now has a more detailed understanding of the issues surrounding the zebra and are therefore able to understand the main threats facing the species, which allows limited conservation resources to be focused towards these areas,” according to a statement.
“Limited conservation resources” may as well be a term applied to any number of areas. So in the future, could predictive analytics be used for..biological purposes? To help women know when they’re ovulating? The best time to have sex to conceive? Or for studying purposes, such as what time of day you perform best? There’s a world of options and most likely a world of cash to be made with such real-world applications. So get to it, IBM!