Members of AIASI Steering Committee Receive Gold Medal Award for VIAME Open Source Toolkit

Group recognized for scientific achievement with most prestigious award granted by the Department of Commerce each year

For the past five years, Kitware has partnered with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop the Video and Imaging Analytics for Marine Environments (VIAME) open source software toolkit. Funded by the NMFS Automated Image Analysis Strategic Initiative (AIASI), VIAME uses artificial intelligence (AI) to enable fisheries biologists and other marine scientists at NOAA and laboratories around the world to automatically analyze large volumes of imagery and video for scientific studies, such as estimating the population of fish species in a fishery. With VIAME scientists can analyze much more data, in more detail, at a lower cost, than through manual examination. The requirements, capabilities, and development of VIAME were funded and overseen by the AIASI Steering Committee, which included members from each of the six NMFS Science Centers as well as Dr. Anthony Hoogs from Kitware.

In October, the Department of Commerce recognized the six government members of the AIASI Steering Committee with a Gold Medal Award for Scientific or Technical Achievement – the most prestigious award given by the Department each year – for “developing the first open-source toolkit for automated image analysis to harness big data for marine ecosystem science and ocean stewardship.” AIASI developed two open source toolkits, VIAME and CoralNet for monitoring coral reefs using imagery analysis. Both were part of the award.

VIAME is the first open-source automated image recognition toolkit using advanced computer vision and machine learning technology focused on marine environments. Scientific programs across NOAA and elsewhere have begun using the toolkit, resulting in immediate cost-savings of 50 percent in processing time in some cases, with more precise, consistent, and timely scientific information to enhance knowledge, discovery, and more confident decision-making for ocean stewardship. VIAME’s funding and development began years before the recent wave of AI initiatives in government and industry, reflecting the prescient insight by Dr. M. Elizabeth Clarke, Dr. Benjamin Richards, and others within NMFS that computer vision would be a key enabler for significant improvements in marine science methods.

Kitware is proud to partner with NOAA in this endeavor and we congratulate all of the recipients of the Department of Commerce Gold Medal. It is a well-deserved honor reflecting years of hard work, dedication, and insight.

For more information about Kitware’s cutting-edge work in artificial intelligence and machine learning, visit our computer vision page.

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