Modelling the march of plants

The Defence Technology Agency's Mana simulator for military operations has sparked interest from the Department of Conservation (DoC) and Trade NZ.

The Defence Technology Agency’s Mana simulator for military operations (see Mana: New Zealand’s terrorist war on screen) has sparked interest from the Department of Conservation (DoC) and Trade NZ.

DoC business services officer Paul Hughes sees a possible use for the Mana technique in modelling the spread of plants, birds and animals through a conservation area and the effectiveness of methods for encouraging or discouraging such movement.

The department has tried other “cellular automata” – the general class of program to which Mana belongs – to simulate these changes, Hughes says, but they had proved insufficiently sophisticated to reflect real-world behaviour. Mana sounds more advanced, he says.

Trade NZ is interested in the software purely as a potential export, not for its own use, says technology and services account manger Dominic Cavanagh. Mana is one among many products that the organisation considers on a daily basis for its sales potential overseas, he says.

“Obviously we scour Computerworld for the latest news of anything like this on the IT front.”

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