Tech giants join NASA and the White House to enhance data-driven climate resiliency

The White House and NASA have partnered with a host of technology giants including Google, Amazon and Microsoft to "harness the data revolution" as a means to develop climate resilience alongside the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREP) was launched on Thursday (22 September), to aid communities, businesses and investors in utilising data to manage climate risks and improve climate-related forecasting and planning.

“Understanding the threats posed by climate change and extreme weather are critical to protecting people, homes, businesses and livelihoods. Data must be part of the solution,” WRI’s vice president for science and research Janet Ranganathan said.

“PREP will leverage open data and open-source computing to help planners build resilience in their communities by connecting those making decisions with the data they need, in a format they can use. Harnessing the data revolution as a force for good to strengthen climate resilience will only be possible with partnerships across government, civil society, the private sector and community organisations.”

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has enlisted the help of NASA, Amazon’s web services, Google’s cloud and Earth Engine platforms and a variety of other data experts to empower a data-driven approach to climate resiliency.

Prepping for action

PREP will seek to engage with communities to understand what role data can play in identifying and reducing barriers to information on climate change. The organisations involved with collaborate to develop an open-source platform that enhances the use and access of climate-relevant data.

The partnership will also seek to introduce “data translators” that act as decision-support tools to inform communities and businesses who are inexperienced in interacting with data. The data collected will also be translated into action plans that aid planning processes.

Originally acting as a beta platform, PREP will aim to bridge the gap between the vast amount of data collected by federal agencies, which is failing to be siphoned down to the users who need it to plan for resiliency. The open-source platform will provide users with dynamic data and climate reports and projections from NASA.

Over the next 12 months, PREP will be scaled-up to communities and expand its data transparency to clarify the source of the information. The ability to create public climate risk “dashboards” is expected to be ready during the 12-month period. The trial period arrives after the World Energy Council (WEC) called for “smarter” energy systems to be developed.

NASA’s chief scientist Dr. Ellen Stofan said: “PREP is about reaching not just across the federal government, but across the public and private sectors, seeking out the best talent, the best capabilities to turn Earth science data into accessible information. Nothing could be more critical than making this country, and countries around the world, more resilient to the effects of climate change.”

Google’s data growth

The inclusion of Google in the partnership comes just days after the technology giant launched a new data platform to promote sustainable marine conservation, while also pledging to run circular economy models within its data centres.

Last week, the company unveiled a new beta technology platform that utilises enhanced data collection and transparency to promote and improve policies and provide the “world’s first global view” of sustainable fishing practices.

The week prior, the company made a commitment to achieve zero waste to landfill status across all of its global data centres, accelerating its efforts to transition to a closed-loop business model – with no more than 10% of its waste going to an energy to waste facility.

Matt Mace

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