US: Search engine giant, Google and FAO have agreed to work together to make tracking and mapping of geospatial products more accessible. With Google Maps, the partnership will provide advance technological assistance to countries in tackling climate change and making land-use policies. Digital technology tapping into satellite imagery is revolutionizing the way countries can assess, monitor and plan the use of their natural resources, including monitoring deforestation and desertification. The three-year long partnership between the two companies will foster innovation and expertise and sharply broaden access to easy-to-use digital tools. It ushers in a major ramping up of existing collaboration between the two organizations and will boost the visibility and implementation of efforts to encourage sustainable environmental practices around the world.
“This partnership is powerful because it unites the complementary strengths of UN FAO and Google,” said Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Earth Outreach. “FAO has decades of hard-won experience working on the ground in hundreds of countries on thousands of projects. Meanwhile, Google technology is at the cutting edge of big data, cloud computing, and transformatively-simple mapping tools. The FAO Collect Earth application brilliantly builds on top of Google Earth and Earth Engine to provide a simple but powerful global and national forest carbon monitoring tool, empowering countries as diverse as Chile, Panama, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Tunisia and Bhutan. We look forward to further strengthening this partnership in support of global climate action and sustainable development.”
Concretely, Google Maps will provide 1,200 trusted tester credentials on Google Earth Engine to FAO staff and partners, while also providing training and receiving feedback on users’ needs and experiences. The partnership foresees sharing knowledge and identifying needs that will broaden the kind of satellite data collected, broadening the focus to monitoring drylands and agricultural crop productivity. While remote sensing data often needs to be accompanied by “ground truth” information obtained locally, the result allows for closer monitoring of variables ranging from tree cover to greenhouse gas emissions.