Obama administration seeks to increase community resilience against climate change

Today, the White House launched an effort to engage the nation’s private sector to create tools and resources that increase the resiliency of communities to extreme weather events.

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In the pilot phase, more data related to coastal flooding are now on Data.gov, with more on projected sea level rise and estimated impacts to follow. More government data from NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies will be featured on climate.data.gov. NOAA and NASA have will host a challenge for researchers and developers “to create data-driven simulations to help plan for the future and to educate the public about the vulnerability of their own communities to sea level rise and flood events.”

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As the Associated Press reported, another effort plans to add sensors on city buses in Philadelphia to collect data. Should the effort go forward and be expanded, it will provide an important focus for sensor journalism.

A number of private sector companies have announced their involvement. part. Later today, The World Bank will publish a new field guide for the “Open Data for Resilience Initiative.” Esri will partner with a dozen cities across the USA to challenge developers to use its ArcGIS platform. Google will donate one petabyte of storage for climate data and 50 million hours of processing time on the Google Earth Engine.

In sum, the focus on this component of the initiative is on helping people understand and plan for potential changes to their communities, as opposed to using data to make a case to the public about the source or science of climate change. While it is no substitute for increased public understanding of the latter, improving local resiliency to severe weather through data-driven analyses is a sufficiently pragmatic, useful approach that it might just have an impact.

The White House will host a forum at 5 PM in DC today featuring talks by officials and executives from the agencies and companies involved. More details and context on the new climate data initiative are available at the White House blog.

[Image credit: NASA]

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