Tag: big data

From Tree Huggers to Tree Modelers: environmentalists heed big data’s call

Posted on February 20th, by Hilary Oliva Faxon in LIDS LIVE. No Comments

Feb. 20, 2014 - Hilary Oliva Faxon

The planet loses forest at the rate of 50 soccer fields per minute. Deforestation can be devastating for biodiversity and forest-based livelihoods, but it’s not just a local problem: land use change contributes almost 20% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, driving global climate change. Unfortunately, large areas of forests are challenging to access, making them difficult to track and police. Global Forest Watch aims change that.

The platform, envisioned and managed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) with Google Earth Engine, the University of Maryland, and 40 other partners, documents near real time forest cover changes in over 200 countries on an interactive map. Zoom in to the region of your choice and scroll through time to see the when and where of forest gain and loss. The information has major implications for land tenure, REDD+ programs, protected area management, and indigenous and state natural resource claims.

Global Forest Watch harnesses amazing amounts of data – some from NASA, some that’s been languishing in USGS reels stored in South Dakota – and puts it online for free. It took 10,000 Google computers several days to upload a base map, said Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine Engineering … Read More »


What kind of data revolution for development?

Posted on February 14th, by Andrea Titus in LIDS LIVE. No Comments

Feb. 14, 2014 – Andrea Titus

“Wanted: A New Data Revolution.” Such was the call issued by the United Nations High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda last year, no doubt in response to the two defining features of the current data landscape in development policy. The first is the dubious accuracy of national and official statistics that currently serve as the foundation of evidence for decisionmaking. The second is the rapid rise of technologies, social media, and crowdsourcing capabilities that have the potential to unlock new sources of data that are, at least on face, appealingly transparent and participatory.

When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established at the start of the century, they placed a new focus on the importance of measurable development indicators on a global scale. From the start, however, there have been serious concerns about the quality of the data we use to assess progress towards the MDGs, much of which relies on infrequent censuses and extrapolation, filtered through national governments. As the World Bank notes just alongside its interactive data portal, “the quality of global data depends on how well these national systems perform,” and performance is uneven at best.

Enter “big data,” and the potential … Read More »