Big Data for the Environment

From the analysis of Big Data made from United Nations Environmental Program we know that every year about 18 thousand square miles (4.6 million hectares) of tropical forests disappear from our planet, which are the habitat of about 30 million living species, half of all plant and animal species on our planet, and generate 40% of the oxygen present on earth.

After the shock of the news, curiosity forces us a question: how to get to these data? What is the scientific mechanism of information processing, certainly a multitude of heterogeneous inputs, which allows us to synthesize the mutations of the planet in comparable numerical factors?

The answer is also in Big Data, or rather in the information technologies that today allow to analyze with ever greater precision huge volumes of data of disparate origin. Technologies for i Big Data, today among the topics of greatest interest in the IT world, to put it simply, huge funnels for analysis, calculation, comparison that probe, sift, compare and synthesize all the data and information that are poured into it in an understandable format.

Since to intervene you must first know the problem (this applies in any situation), there is no doubt that i Big Data can give a big hand toEnvironment; for example by letting us know through the United Nations Environmental Program how much forest we smoke each year, and how much we have left before we go extinct.

The credibility of the result obviously depends on the source of information, but also on the quality of the technology Big Data. Conservation International, a non-governmental environmental organization active in the protection of nature, has activated a collaboration with the IT giant HP on the HP Earth Insights project, which applies HP technology for Big Data ecological research conducted by Conservation International on 16 tropical forests worldwide.

HP Earth Insights data and analysis will be shared with protected area managers so they can develop policies on hunting and other causes of species decline for these ecosystems. The advantage of the analysis of Big Data is that what used to take weeks, months, or even longer for many scientists to do analysis can now be done by one person in hours.

Knowing is necessary to act, but let's get ready to digest bad news from Big Data. The first data collected made it possible to understand that: of the 275 species monitored, 60 (equal to 22%), decreased compared to the data base; 33 of the species monitored (equal to 12%) have significantly decreased in number and among these are the bear and the wild boar of Malaysia and the greater grison of Ecuador (Yasuni); the gorilla population, which lives in the Republic of Congo and is considered a highly endangered species, has likely decreased by 10% compared to 2009 data.

Video: Introduction: Data Sciences for Climate and Environment (October 2020).