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Esri Leading the Charge with President’s Climate Data Initiative

On Wednesday, March 19, the White House, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), hosted an event highlighting the Administrations commitment to combating climate change and building resilient communities. “Climate change and preparing for its impacts is one of the challenges this nation faces,” said Michael Boots, acting chair, White House Council on environmental quality.

The event included announcements across the federal government and from the private sector and showcased the power of data to help prepare communities for climate change. And as many of the speakers noted, to combat the impacts of climate change, it will require collaboration across sectors and a commitment from all stakeholders to build resilient communities.

One of the companies leading the charge for the Climate Data initiative is Esri, the global leader in GIS technology. They have taken the lead to work with the Administration and promote the use of data to transform communities. The Climate Data initiative and GIS technologies are well suited to transform the way our nation is addressing climate change. “It’s [GIS] already being used to show a more resilient world,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri CEO.

GIS offers the ability to quickly, and efficiently, show powerful stories around data. As an integrative technology, GIS connects big data, cloud, and mobile with spatial analysis– all in a way that helps leaders in the public sector make improved decisions. These benefits extend to the tackle the large-scale challenges we face in regards to climate change.

With GIS, communities can help see the impact of rising sea levels, access to fresh water, and where to place solar panels. It can also help make decisions on where to build windmills, how to plan for population changes, and improve the ability to prepare, plan, mitigate and respond to emergencies.

Most importantly, GIS offers the chance for communities to collaborate and share best practices on how they are building resilient communities.

Dangermond highlighted three initiatives that Esri has taken to support the Climate Data Initiative. “My message is that GIS becomes a framework for taking climate information into cities and making them more resilient,” said Dangermond.

As an initial starting point, Esri will target 12 communities across the United States, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Wake County, North Carolina; and Tamarac, Florida. Esri will work with these communities to adopt GIS technologies, and publish a series of maps and apps for other communities to replicate, helping them in their efforts to become more resilient to climate change. “These activities are happening at all kinds of scales,” said Dangermond, evidenced by the various sizes of communities that Esri has initially partnered with.

Esri has also launched the climate based geo-collaboration portal. “This is bringing government data into cities, who want to have access to the powerful data from NASA, NOAA, and USGS,” said Dangermond.

“It is a place where citizens and professionals can go online to discover, contribute, and share resources critical to confronting the impacts of climate change. This website will offer a starting point for open data and ideas. It will evolve over time and grow as more scientists, government entities, and the public use it,” said an Esri press release.

“We felt it [geo-collaboration platform] was important to establish this collaborative network of individuals and organizations who use GIS to come together to combat the impacts of climate change,” said Esri president Jack Dangermond in the press release. “As governments, businesses, innovators, and citizens work toward this common goal, both a knowledge base and real-world tools will be created that people around the globe can use to build more resilient communities,” he continued.

The final component as to how Esri is contributing to the Climate Data Initiative is the Climate Resilience App Challenge. This app contest is asking participants to use the Esri Platform to create innovative applications that will not only help bring awareness to communities about protecting our environment, but also help build sustainable communities. (Full details on the exciting app challenge can be found in my previous post).

At the heart of Dangermond’s presentation, and Esri’s efforts, is the need to connect communities and share best practices and resources. “Creating and sharing knowledge on how to use this information to make cities more resilient,” said Dangermond.

To achieve these means, Esri has already created partnerships with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), National Association of Counties (NACO), National League of Cities (NLC), Tumml, American Public Works Association (APWA), American Planning Association (APA), Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), American Water Resources Association (AWRA), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Local Government Commission (LGC), National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation (NAPSG Foundation), National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Trust for Public Lands (TPL), and Public Technology Institute (PTI).

The level of collaboration and leadership that is already taking place between government institutions and the private sector shows how our nation is uniquely positioned to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Certainly, GIS is playing an essential role in the Administrations quest to protect our environment. The Obama Administration has led the charge in the efforts to federal government data, and use it as a means to push innovation and support economic growth. The Climate Data initiative is another step for the Obama administration to transform communities, building on success of other industries such as health, education, public safety and global development.

GIS is one of the few technologies that crosses so many different sectors and applies broadly to many different government agencies. With GIS, you can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your agency, and prepare your communities to become resilient for generations to come.

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Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at ArcGIS.com. Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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