Google and United Nations are no strangers to noble partnerships and their latest joint endeavor is aimed at fighting climate change. As a United Nations' agency revealed last week, Google has developed new software that will help in organizing processes aimed at preventing climate change, controlling deforestation, and organizing more efficient food production. The software's name is Open Foris and it's described as a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) online platform which utilizes satellite images to monitor environmental changes and the environment in general in order to help plan an optimal course of action in regards to food production and related endeavors.
As Erik Lindquist, FAO's forestry officer put it, this new software is capable of making maps that used to take three years to develop in just under a week. "Rather than preparing data to analyze we can spend time probing the data for answers," revealed Lindquist, adding that this consequently means the team is getting answers much more quickly than before. Speaking at the recently held global forest conference in Rome, Italy, Lindquist announced that Open Foris is a set of open source tools free to use by any interested party, from governments and scientists looking to monitor the carbon storage capacity of a certain area to concerned citizens interested in personally monitoring the usage of natural resources in their vicinity. In addition to being capable of monitoring forest and land areas in general, Open Foris can also be used to monitor water resources. One practical and contemporary use of this software revealed by Lindquist is evaluating certain locations and their suitability to act as refugee camps based on the amount of available drinkable water and firewood in the vicinity.
Another conceptually similar project to Open Foris has launched a couple of weeks ago in the form of an app. Its name is MapSwipe and it was developed by a medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in order to give smartphone users the option of mapping remote areas of the world vulnerable to humanitarian crises. Not too long ago, Google has also started testing the climate change feature of its Maps service and it's widely believed that some of the data collected during that period were used during the development of Open Foris.