Tech Giants Put Big Data to Work for Climate Resilience

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By Andrea Vittorio

Sept. 22 — The U.S. government is teaming up with Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and others to put big data to work for climate change preparedness.

Their new Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREP) will try to bridge the gap between the climate data that exists in static reports or in vast databases and the communities, companies and investors who need it for decision making.

“Oftentimes all of our data sets are produced in relatively complex domains and they are usable only by experts,” Valliappa Lakshmanan, Google’s cloud manager, said Sept. 22 at an event in New York held by the World Resources Institute, one of their partners. To facilitate analysis, he said, “we need to think about how can we promote both sophisticated use of the data and use by laypersons.”

The partnership’s online platform, currently in beta, will allow communities to see and interact with different data sets that could help them assess and manage risks from more extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change. At least a dozen communities will test the platform by the end of 2017.

PREP came out of a climate data initiative that the Obama administration launched in 2014 to identify relevant data sets and open them up.

Amazon’s cloud-computing subsidiary is making new data sets available on the cloud at no cost. Google is helping organize priority climate data in the cloud to make it easy to perform small- and large-scale analytics. And Microsoft is holding workshops to identify data gaps and barriers.

“We envision a world in which communities and governments at all levels have access to timely, relevant, and up-to-date information that supports management of climate variability and change,” they said Sept. 22 in a joint declaration with the World Bank and additional public and private sector partners from around the globe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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