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22 Mar 2022

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SPC's Digital Earth Pacific will analyze massive amounts of data to combat climate change and improve economies

The Pacific Community's 27 country and territory members have launched Digital Earth Pacific, a platform to analyze massive amounts of satellite and other data to help Pacific island nations combat climate change, while improving their economies.

Local governments that are members of the Pacific Community (SPC) are well aware that huge amounts of data are available to help them make better economic and environmental decisions. However, these data sources are often located in other parts of the world and require a huge amount of computational power to analyze.

Cloud-based environment

Herein lies the value of Digital Earth Pacific. The platform, based on Microsoft's cloud-based Planetary Computer environment and supported by a team of scientists and technicians, will be able to analyze the massive amounts of data generated by - for example - the EU's earth observation satellites. A team of data analytics and data science specialists will convert the raw data into actionable information that can be used to predict environmental events, improve economic prospects for island nations and help them design better strategies to safeguard their islands and inhabitants from rising sea levels, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions like the one that hit Tonga earlier this year.

Sustainable Development Goals

The SPC supports sustainable development by applying a people-centered approach across all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. It serves its members by harnessing the nexus of climate, ocean, land, culture, rights and good governance, fostering trusted partnerships, investing in Pacific people, and understanding Pacific contexts.

Digital Earth Pacific required an investment of USD 12.8 million. On it’s website it says: “Digital Earth Pacific will be a fundamental digital infrastructure that will ensure every nation in the Pacific has access to tools and technologies to better understand the changes to Pacific environments and people. The system condenses years of freely available satellite data sets to provide real-time understanding on issues such as how disasters have changed coastlines, the impact climate-change and wave energy is having on our countries and to combine weather outlooks for farmers and countries. The technology has been proven in other parts of the world, the data exists in global databases and is accessible for use”.

Economic value

Developing a similar service in Africa for a cost of USD 7 million was estimated by the World Economic Forum to have a return of USD 2.3 billion to African economies. Studies in the Asia-Pacific region indicate that the economic value of Earth and Marine Observation data to a single Pacific country will grow from $36M to $108M by 2030. Through Digital Earth Pacific, all Pacific economies will be able to benefit economically from the better application of Earth Observation data to achieve sustainable development goals.

Photo credit: Austin Park

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