The return on investment for natural capital is not purely financial. There are social and non-market benefits that accrue to nature. For example, the benefits of wetlands as a common resource for water filtering cannot be fully captured through market transactions. The benefits of clean air for public health have social benefits that cannot be captured by those that invest in its cleanliness. The result is that the natural environment is under-valued by the free market. So too is the enabling data infrastructure that provisions environmental information. Web service APIs are the building blocks for modern applications. What is the appropriate role of the public sector to build or maintain web service APIs for environmental data in order to enable the private sector use of environmental information?
The Earth Genome is working to build a platform to enable easy-to-use, inexpensive, scientifically credible, continuously updated global information on natural resources. This infrastructure is coupled with powerful and relevant decision-support tools. The platform and tools will exponentially lower the cost and time to analyze data and translate it into insights that decision makers can use. I am a cofounder along with Glen Low and Steve McCormick, who is an environmental hero. The Earth Genome has initially focused on water and agriculture, with simple web applications to easily monitor change in natural resources.
Limitations in data production, quality, access, and use are stunting the fight to end extreme poverty, combat climate change, and ensure a healthy life for all. The Global Partnership is working to build an enabling environment for harnessing the data revolution for sustainable development. I serve as the Lead Data Scientist to this organization, through work at the Earth Genome.
The Presidential Innovation Fellows program is a competitive fellowship program that pairs top innovators from the private sector, non-profits, and academia with top innovators in government. I'm working with NASA, specifically the Office of the CTO, on open data and open innovation. I'll do data science to support President Obama's mandate to "harness new ideas and technology to remake our government." I'll blog about the experience and I guess more generally data science at the White House and NASA. This is a WIRED article that describes the program's origins and its relationship to the US Digital Service (which is different).
There are massive volumes of earth imagery available from commercial satellites. If you had all the imagery in the world, where would you look? Why would you look there? I co-founded SpaceNinja to try to answer these questions by organizing change detected from high-resolution satellite imagery. The algorithms rely on a new branch of machine learning, called deep learning; and we apply these new techniques to stacks of satellite images.
NASA collects well over 20TB of data every day as of 2015. The objective of api.nasa.gov is to expose that data in a way that internal and external researchers can easily leverage. To seed this project, I've built APIs to serve out mars imagery, the APOD data, earth imagery, patent information, and space sounds. Ultimately, the catalog of APIs will help to standardize documentation and, hopefully, offer a style guide for future NASA APIs. As a Presidential Innovation Fellow, I wrote APIs and helped to design strategy for institutional API design.
How many officer involved shooting (OIS) incidents occur each year? When officers are shot, the data are emminently accessible. When a public citizen is shot, however, the data are less accessible. This seems wrong. Not just for the public, but for conscientious officers who care about effective and sustainable law enforcement. There are many, disparate projects that collect unofficial accounts of OIS incidents, mostly from the news media. A few commendable police departments are releasing official accounts. This project is an attempt to structure and serve out the available data, both official and unofficial, in a standard and reliable way. See this post for the endpoints.
SpaceKnow is a San Francisco based start-up that monitors economic activity from satellite imagery. Traditional remote sensing relies mainly on spectral image analysis. The availability of high-resolution imagery from providers like Digital Globe or Planet Labs has created new opportunities to monitor human behavior using computer vision and feature detection, which are new to earth observation but well-established in companies like Facebook or Instagram.
The UN Global Pulse and the Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team hosted the Big Data Climate Challenge to bring forward data-driven evidence of the economic dimensions of climate change. The Big Data Climate Challenge is an initiative of the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit to be held in September 2014. I helped to write the winning proposal for Global Forest Watch.
Global Forest Watch is a core initiative of the World Resources Institute (WRI) to report and monitor forest clearing activity in the humid tropics. The initiative is based on the FORMA algorithm, developed at the Center for Global Development and enhanced by WRI and Google, among other partners.
EcoHack is an annual conference that promotes the use technology to improve and better understand our natural environment. Based on the hacking model of quick, clever solutions to problems, EcoHack is an opportunity to quickly break technological bottlenecks. Past projects have included monitoring sewer overflow, building pollution sensors, cracking open an insect species database, and mapping biodiversity. In 2014, EcoHack was highlighted in President Obama's Climate Data Initiative factsheet.
As part of the innaugural EcoHack in San Francsico, I worked with a crazy talented, small team that included Topher White, Andrew Hill, and Rhett Bulter to create a map of stories for Mongabay.com, a leading environmental news site.
The Forest Carbon Index (FCI) compiles and displays global data relating to biological, economic, governance, investment, and market readiness conditions for every forest and country in the world, revealing the best places and countries for forest carbon investments.
A small application that serves as a layer on GFW, tracking fires for the past seven days, updated daily. Support for tracking wind speed and wind bearing for each detected fire in order to track potential haze in nearby cities or countries.