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Google, UN, FAO to harness satellite data to manage world’s natural resources

Google, UN, FAO to harness satellite data to manage world’s natural resources

Google, United Nations’ and  Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) are working together to make high-resolution satellite data in managing global  natural resources.

The collaborative effort between the companies is already yielding results as the innovation allows resource managers and researchers in many countries to gauge changing land uses of individual field-sized plots seen by eye-in-the-sky satellites

The method offers a quantum leap towards improved abilities to assess a landscape’s carbon storage capacity or plan a nation’s approach to greenhouse gas emissions, the collaborating entities said.

NIGCOMSAT Satellite Ground Station in Abuja
NIGCOMSAT Satellite Ground Station in Abuja

For example, easily accessible and rapidly-updated remote sensing data enable a shift in forest management from inventory reports to taking the almost real-time pulse of forests, thus opening a host of new policy prospects and further opening the doors of scientific perception.

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO said ”FAO and Google are ushering in an unprecedented level of environmental literacy.”

According to the FAO chief, ”the initial focus is the forestry sector, where national experts can  after a short training, use FAO software and Google’s accessible geospatial data archives to conduct in a few hours, mapping and classification exercises that used to take weeks or months.”

According to her “the more people involved, the better it works. Understanding the effects of climate change, planning the improvements in the efficiency of production and distribution of food, and monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals require more frequent and precise data on the environment and its changes,”

“Partnerships like this bring our products into actual use,” Rebecca Moore, Director at Google earth outreach and earth engine who described her team as “built to do science.” The partnership with FAO is a way “we can each bring our unique strengths to make a change for future generations”.

”The combination in which Google makes data and processing power easily accessible while FAO devises ways to extract useful information has already moved into innovative territory, notably with a Global Dryland Assessment, in which national experts, university researchers, partner institutions and FAO combined forces in an open-sourced exercise. Results will be published later this year”, they said

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Donatus Anichukwueze Technology Writer at Technology Times Media e-mail: donatus.anichukwueze@technologytimes.ng