Google and the UN Environment Programme have announced a partnership that will combine science and big data to expand what we know about the environment, as well as measure the impact of humans on the Earth’s ecosystem.
This will result in a platform being created that will use Google’s cloud computing and earth observation public catalogues so that organisations and companies can plan for changes in the environment, according to the UN Environment Programme.
Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said: ‘We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right.
‘UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.’
UN Environment Programme’s Erik Solheim speaks during a press conference in Nairobi
What is the UN Environment Programme?
The UN Environment Programme provides a voice for the global environment and encourages partnership by inspiring, informing and enabling nations to improve their quality of life, but in a way that does not compromise future generations.
How will Google work with the UN to monitor environmental changes?
The UN Environment Programme explained that when countries want to implement action for environmental issues, they are frequently held back by gaps in significant data that is needed to ensure that these actions can occur safely and effectively.
However, with this Google and UN partnership and Google Earth’s analysis and visualisation tools, things can start to change for the better.
The UN Environment Programme encourages and enables nations to improve quality of life
Rebecca Moore, Director of Google Earth, Earth Engine & Earth Outreach said: ‘We are excited to enable all countries with equal access to the latest technology and information in support of global climate action and sustainable development.’
This will mean that companies, who require this information to make changes in regards to how they are affecting the environment, can rely on satellite images and statistics on the degree of environmental change in particular areas.
In the long term, the programme aims to focus on becoming a place for open-source and free environmental data that can be used by organisations to become aware of progress on the UN’s sustainable development goals as a whole.
Engadget explained that while this is not the first use of satellite imagery that reveals the impact of human activity on the environment, it is one of the largest and with the data being free of charge, it is definitely very significant.
At first, Google will focus on freshwater ecosystems such as mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes, as reported on Engadget. The technology company will produce geospatial maps and data on these ecosystems.
Google will focus on freshwater ecosystems such as mountains, forests, wetlands and rivers
How will water data be beneficial?
With Google and the UN Environment Programme’s priority being data collated on how water ecosystems have changed and how countries can prevent further loss, geospatial maps on this issue will be the first to be made available and will be from October 2018.
‘It’s basically a time slide… you can go back in time, and what is does is show you where water has disappeared.
‘It can show you where water never was and now is there. It can show you where water is seasonal,’ Elisabeth Mullin Bernhardt, programme manager at the UN Programme said, according to Straits Times.
Bernhardt continued to explain that because most countries share water sources, information could also be used to encourage other nations to work together to manage rivers and lakes.
Google’s artificial intelligence and cloud computing will be able to process three decades worth of information of obtain crucial data.