UN Global Pulse and Western Digital announces ‘ Data for climate action’ challenge

Global Pulse, the United Nations innovation initiative on big data, and Western Digital Corporation, a data storage technologies and solutions, announced a partnership today to launch the “Data for Climate Action” challenge.

Data for Climate Action is an unprecedented open innovation challenge to harness data science and big data from the private sector to fight climate change. Data scientists, researchers, and innovators from around the world are encouraged to apply and submit their proposals at DataForClimateAction.org by 10 April 2017.

“Driving effective action on climate change requires not only climate data, but also rich information about human behaviour,” said Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse. “Big data can provide dynamic feedback on how communities affect and are affected by the climate system, and enable innovation to increase sustainability and resilience. This data is primarily held by companies, like those participating in Data for Climate Action.”

With support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund, this global challenge has galvanized a diverse coalition of companies from multiple industries and countries to participate through acts of ‘data philanthropy’. The challenge will offer researchers an opportunity to gain unprecedented access to national, regional, and global datasets—anonymized and aggregated to protect privacy—and robust tools to support their research.

Companies contributing data for the challenge include:

● BBVA Data & Analytics, a financial data analytics company
● Crimson Hexagon, an enterprise social media analytics company
● Earth Networks, a weather and lightning sensor network operator
● Nielsen, a global measurement and analytics company
● Orange, a global telecommunications provider
● Planet, an earth-imaging satellite network operator
● Plume Labs, an environmental data sciences company
● Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation
● Waze, a free, real-time community-based traffic and navigation app

In addition, researchers may apply to receive cloud-computing support from Microsoft, and visual analytics support from Tableau.

“As the world’s largest data storage company, we understand the power and promise of data, and are passionate about its use as a catalyst for change,” said Dave Tang, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Data Center Systems Business Unit, Western Digital. “We are proud to partner with the United Nations Global Pulse team to not only help build the narrative and framework for the Data for Climate Action challenge, but to amplify and drive engagement around the data for social good movement. We look forward to the insights and solutions generated from this challenge and the possibilities they represent for our future.”

About the Challenge:

Data for Climate Action will target three areas relevant to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal on climate action (SDG 13): climate mitigation, climate adaptation, and the linkages between climate change and the broader 2030 Agenda.

The challenge aims to generate original research papers and tools that demonstrate how data-driven innovation can inform on-the-ground solutions and transform efforts to fight climate change. It builds upon the model of data science competitions pioneered by organizations like Kaggle, and company-specific initiatives to share big data for the public good, such as the “Data for Development” challenges hosted by Orange.

Researchers who are selected to participate in Data for Climate Action will have four months to conduct their research. A diverse panel of experts in climate change and data science will evaluate final submissions based on their methodology, relevance, and potential impact. Winners will be announced in November of 2017.

Elena Alfaro, CEO, BBVA Data & Analytics said “At BBVA Data & Analytics we believe in the moral obligation of data-driven organizations to share data and contribute to society. In our previous collaboration with UN Global Pulse, we discovered that aggregated financial data can yield insights into how crises affect vulnerable populations. Together we demonstrated a novel method to measure communities’ economic resilience to natural disasters. The Data for Climate Action challenge represents another concrete way to put data to work for climate action, and we look forward to contributing once again, with our aggregated financial data and our excellence in data science.”

Jim Pinkelman, Senior Director, Microsoft Research said “We are proud to be supporting this important global challenge, and we look forward to providing Microsoft Azure to further the work of these innovative researchers.”

Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Senior Executive Vice President of Innovation, Marketing and Technologies, Orange said “We are confident that Data for Climate Action will help foster research on the potential of data to address climate change on a global scale. Orange’s involvement with the challenge is a natural continuation of our open innovation initiatives focused on how big data science can contribute to sustainable development and social welfare. This illustrates our ongoing commitment to facilitate solutions to help address social and environmental issues for the entire global community.”

“Addressing climate change will require many actors working with the most powerful tools available. At Planet, we’re contributing to this vision by imaging the whole world, every day, and making change on Earth visible and accessible. We are delighted to collaborate with UN Global Pulse on the Data for Climate Action challenge, and to put the most up-to-date data about our planet into the hands of innovators who can help make progress on one of the most urgent issues of our time” said Will Marshall, CEO and Co-Founder, Planet.

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