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AI in Action
Stopping the Asian Hornet Invasion

Sam Page
Jun 26, 2024

The Asian hornet, a predator decimating bee populations, is on the rise in the UK. Since 2016, sightings have surged. Expert teams reviewing sighting reports and photographic evidence are swamped with an unnecessary workload, with 99% of reported sightings last year being a case of mistaken identity.

Technology to the Rescue.

Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange (AIE) in London – a multidisciplinary team of innovation consultants, designers and engineers – is well versed in tackling this kind of problem with the application of emerging technology.

Following a previous Tech4PositiveFutures initiative which saw the launch of a rewilding tool to help pollinator numbers grow, AIE London again partnered with Pollenize, a UK environmental organisation dedicated to citizen science and conservation, to address this problem. Introducing NestSweeper, an AI-powered Asian hornet identification and reporting smartphone application.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Capgemini AIE team once again. By integrating their expertise and our goals of getting people engaged in citizen science and conservation, we aim to protect biodiversity and create better environments for both nature and people. This partnership embodies our shared commitment to using innovative solutions to addresspressing environmental challenges and promote positive change for future generations”

Owen Finnie, Co-founder of Pollenize

The NestSweeper App’s key features include:

  1. Lure and snap: The NestSweeper app has been designed to work alongside the NestSweeper device designed by Pollenize. This device vaporises a specially formulated attractant that emits a scent to attract Asian hornets. When a hornet approaches the device to investigate the scent, it becomes distracted, allowing users enough time to launch the NestSweeper app and snap a clear photo through their smartphone camera.
  2. AI powered identification: Once a photo is captured, the app’s true power comes into play. NestSweeper utilises an embedded machine learning model, that has been diligently trained on a dataset of 40,000 hornet images. This AI analyses the captured photo. By identifying specific features like wing patterns, body shape, and colour variations, the model can determine with an impressive 98% accuracy whether the insect in the photo is indeed an Asian hornet.
  3. Swift action with seamless transmission: If the AI confirms an Asian hornet sighting, the NestSweeper app triggers a streamlined reporting process. Users can capture the exact location details through GPS or manual entry. The app then transmits the verified sighting data, along with the hornet photo, to a central team for human verification. This allows for a rapid response from experts who can then focus their efforts on eradication measures.

User-Centered Design.

“Our research for the NestSweeper app was user-centered, ensuring that members of the beekeeping community could easily use it daily. Designing the app with the end user as our top priority was always our primary focus.”

Ruby Haddad, Research and Design Analyst, AIE London

Time is of the Essence.

With spring triggering a hornet population boom, NestSweeper’s swift development – from concept to app store in just 6 weeks – was critical. Automating identification frees experts to focus on eradication, not paperwork.

Together We Can Stop Them.

Capgemini and Pollenize are committed to public awareness. Download NestSweeper, share this info or connect with us for more information. Together we can prevent the Asian hornet from becoming established in the UK and a widespread threat to the honey bee population.

“The challenges around biodiversity have only recently come to light. New regulations are coming up and technology has a big role to play in solving these challenges. This project is a real example of using technology for good.”

Hardik Pithadia, Product Owner for NestSweeper app, AIE London

Meet our expert

Sam Page

Senior Product Designer at Capgemini
Sam has a decade of experience working across the full end-to-end product design process, from empathising with users during user research, to delivering final UI designs and working closely with engineers to bring digital products to life. Sam is passionate about the application of tech for good, and actively seeks opportunities where Capgemini can make a difference.