Developers at Vulcan built a central database to collect all raw data as soon as each survey flight was completed. That meant, for the first time ever, population data from across Africa was available for anyone who wanted it, as open-source, as long as permission was granted from participating governments and survey implementers. It’s important to realize the census didn’t just count live elephants, it counted dead ones, too. Spotters tallied elephant carcasses to identify poaching hotspots — defined as a carcass ratio of more than eight percent (a level high enough to cause a declining population). It also counted other wildlife, livestock, and even the presence of humans and houses. Like the elephant data, this information is now available to inform researchers’ understanding of the status of other species, and to make it easier to identify relationships between these variables. Of course, all surveys have errors. Observers may miss elephants in the shadows of trees, pilots may have trouble maintaining a constant altitude and speed. Final numbers generated, including those in GEC surveys, also have sampling error. But because of the technology and methodologies used, researchers are 95 percent confident (have 95 percent confidence) in the results revealed.