How can big data fight with climate change risks?
This post is competing in “2017 Engage Global Social Media Competition: Technology for a Sustainable Future”.
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Ten post bierze udział w konkursie “2017 Engage Global Social Media Competition: Technology for a Sustainable Future”.
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Total loss of privacy? Surveillance? Constant control? A lot of myths arose about big data in the last few years. The term seems to be not widely understandable and have rather negative association, but can become crucial technology, that can reduce climate change risks over the next 10 years.
So… what does “big data” really is?
The existence of new like websites, social media, mobile apps, publicly accessible sources, etc. causes a huge rise of information available about every person in the world. The number of data, that we produce, as a humanity, is growing constantly and rapidly every year, transferring its form of storage from analog into digital. The data becomes more complex and need a higher attention to be used in a proper way.
Big data is a term referring to data sets of big volume and variety, arriving from multiple sources, at an incredible velocity (so-called “3Vs”). It’s analysis is complex, but can provide a huge value for business, research centers, government and other institutions, by acquiring new knowledge. In simple words, big data enables organizations to collect information of different origin, compare them, analyze and draw conclusions. All of this is used e.g. in:
- Decision-making processes
- Discovering new phenomenon
- Process optimization
- Spotting business trends
OK., I see… but how can it face the problem of climate change?
Most of the scientist can confirm that our climate is changing: Arctic ice melt, the rise of the average temperature, loss of wildlife habitat, hurricanes happening more frequent that ever before and many others. Big data technology can significantly helps with those problems. It helps to map the past to see the future, create smarter and less costly solutions, allocate resources in a proper way and spread awareness about the climate change issue, with a reliable data.
To visualize those possibilities, here are some examples of how is it used in practice:
- Google Earth Engine – compares the data about environment across years to identify the problems to be fixed. So far, it warned about the color change of the Lake Urmia in Iran and helps to track the deforestation process in Amazon
- Surging Seas – an interactive map and tool to measure the changes of the sea level in USA. It is used to alarm about the flood risks and spread the awareness about the sea level rising
- Opower – a company dealing with energy analytics, by sending reports to citizens comparing their energy use with their neighbors. It’s estimated that Opower saved almost 6 billion kilowatts of energy since 2007
Seems legit. I like it!
Big data technology is able to process gigantic volumes of complex climate data, show correlations and provide real-time analytics. Of course, after all the data is provided, it’s us, who need to take the necessary actions, but big data is definitely an amazingly helpful tool to reduce climate change risks. Just a decade ago, this problem seemed to be insurmountable. Now, with a powerful tool of big data in our hands, the actions that we take to prevent climate change can be much more effective.