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UNEP partners with Google for monitoring impact of human activity on global ecosystem

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has entered into partnership with search engine giant Google to monitor impacts of human activity on global ecosystems by using sophisticated online tools. The partnership was launched during High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.

Key Facts

The aim of the partnership is to develop platform to enable governments, NGO’s and public to track specific environment-related development targets with user-friendly Google front-end. Its initial focus will be on freshwater ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

Freshwater ecosystems areas account for 0.01% of world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss of freshwater biodiversity.

Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel Cloud computing technology. It will generate satellite imagery and statistics to assess extent of change occurring to waterbodies and make it freely accessible to ensure nations have opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.

Other areas of collaboration under this partnership include advocacy and capacity building activities as well as the development of partnerships with organisations like European Space Agency (ESA), European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Significance

This partnership builds on a common shared vision between these organisations. In long term, it will strive to establish platform for open-source data and analysis of UN Sustainable Development Goals. It will enable UNEP to get access to most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for action, and needs for making world sustainable. It will enable all countries with equal access to latest technology and information in support of global climate action and sustainable development.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. It was founded as result of United Nations Conference on Human Environment in June 1972. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. UNEP also has six regional offices and various country offices.

UNEP acts as catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote wise use and sustainable development of global environment. It works with wide range of partners, including UN entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, private sector and civil society.

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CWC, Google sign agreement for flood forecasting and dissemination of flood related information

Central Water Commission (CWC) has signed collaboration agreement with search engine giant Google for flood forecasting and dissemination of flood related information to masses. This initiative will help crisis management agencies to deal extreme hydrological events in better manner for effective flood management in India under National Hydrology Project (NHP).

Key Facts

Under this collaboration, CWC will use state-of-the-art technological advances made by Google in field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and geo-spatial mapping for effective management of water resources particularly in the field of flood forecasting and dissemination of flood related information to masses widely using dissemination platforms developed by Google. Under this Agreement, CWC and Google will share technical expertise to collaborate on

  • Improving flood prediction systems, which will help provide location-targeted, actionable flood warnings,
  • High priority research project utilizing Google Earth to help visualize and improve flood management.
  • Cultural project to build online exhibitions on Rivers of India.

Under this collaborative arrangement, Google will use high resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and vast computational resources and its technological expertise to generate flood inundation maps utilising level forecast input provided by CWC. This information will be disseminated with lead time of up to 3 days. The inundation forecasting will be done trial basis for flood season of 2018 and it will be scaled up in near future.

Significance

The collaborative arrangement will save of crore of rupees which would have been spent by government on acquiring high resolution DEM, high end computational resources and developing dissemination platforms widely used by masses.

This would enable Government as well as disaster management organisations to identify well in advance locations and population, which are at risk from floods and require warnings and information. This initiative is expected to be milestone in flood management and in mitigating the flood losses.

Central Water Commission (CWC)

CWC is India’s apex technical organization in field of water resources functioning under Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. It is mandated for initiating, coordinating in consultation of State Governments, schemes for control, utilization and conservation of water resources throughout the country. These schemes are meant for purpose of flood control, irrigation, navigation, drinking water supply and water power development. It is

National Hydrology Project (NHP)

NHP was launched by Ministry of Water Resources in 2016-17. It is World Bank assisted central sector scheme with pan India coverage. Its objective is to improve extent, quality and accessibility of water resources information, decision support system for floods and basin level resource assessment and planning and to strengthen capacity of targeted water resources professionals and management institutions in India.

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