First Esri Climate Resilience App Challenge: Who’ll Start the Reign?

7/14/14Follow @bvbigelow

The 34th annual Esri users conference begins today at the San Diego Convention Center, drawing geography techies from more than 90 countries to share their ideas and insights in the use of Redlands, CA-based Esri’s mapping software. Last year, more than 13,500 people attended the five-day conference, which offers a wide range of sessions on mapping and geospatial information system (GIS) technology.

Privately held Esri, founded in 1969 as the Environmental Systems Research Institute, was a pioneer in GIS technology and continues to expand the capabilities of its ArcGIS mapping software, by adding such features as location analytics for business customers.

Esri president Jack Dangermond will kick things off with his usual overview of the Esri ecosystem. This year, keynote presentations by Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization and Dr. Vincent Seaman from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will show how public health workers are mapping software in a global initiative to eradicate polio.

Dangermond also is scheduled to name the top three winners of the Esri Climate Resilience App Challenge, which the company announced in March as a way to support a White House Climate Data Initiative, according to Chris Thomas, Esri’s director of government markets.

“We asked government agencies and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] what they were struggling with, and what they need to accomplish” in terms of climate change, Thomas said. “We went to hackathons, software development communities, and conducted a worldwide search of what was out there.

“What we saw was more of a dialog of what people saw as their particular challenges to climate change,” Thomas said. “For people who live on the coast, their priority is coastal flooding. For people in Littleton, Colorado, they’re more worried about the ‘silver tsunami,’” which is the wave of older people who live in the community without air conditioning. During a prolonged heat wave, they need someplace to go.

Esri received about 50 submissions before the June 2 deadline that met contest criteria, and will provide three winners with over $15,000 in cash prizes or software equipment. The company named 13 finalists earlier this month, and they are:

Modeling Community Erosion from Climate Change, submitted by Stone Environmental, a consulting firm in Montpelier, VT, enables users to identify areas that are vulnerable to erosion, based on high-resolution scientific data.

Minnesota Solar Suitability Analysis, submitted by GIS graduate students at the University of Minnesota, provides an interactive map that homeowners and solar panel installers could use to determine the amount of solar energy per square meter anywhere in Minnesota.

EveryDropLA, submitted by CitySourced, a private software development in Los Angeles that specializes in using technology to encourage civic engagement, encourages water conservation by allowing users to report water waste through a Web platform.

Costal Resilience 2.0, created by The Nature Conservancy with multiple partners, is a Web-based GIS program that helps coastal communities to assess the potential risk from storm surge and sea level rise. The website also allows users to develop risk reduction and restoration solutions, and identify ways to reduce socio-economic vulnerability to coastal hazards.

Flood Forecast, created in 24 hours by a four-person team at the Hack4Colorado Hackathon in Denver, residents in Boulder County, CO, to register their address and receive push alerts when that location is in imminent danger of flooding.

Save the Rain, submitted by Mark Laudon of Vancouver, BC, enables users to determine how much rainfall occurs anywhere, helping them “to make smarter choices and save water when it is available.”

Global Forest Watch Commodities, created by an information technology and services consultant in partnership with the World Resources Institute of Washington D.C., is a Web-based platform that companies can use to analyze how buying and selling palm oil, wood pulp, soy, and other commodities affects forests.

Community Resilience Inference Measurement, created by Mashery, a San Francisco-based software development firm, used a new socioeconomic model to quantify how resilient individual communities would be to climate-related hazards. The app also provides factors that increase or decrease resilience.

—CommunityViz Web App, submitted by Placeways, a software developer and consulting firm in Boulder, CO, allows planners can use to quickly share results of their analyses of energy use, greenhouse gas generation, and other developmental impacts.

The Trust for Public Land Urban Heat Risk Explorer, submitted by The Trust for Public Land, highlights urban heat island hotspots with elevated daytime temperatures that average at least 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit above the mean daily temperature. The mapping software helps cities prepare for, respond to, and recover from extreme heat events.

Unity, developed by California-based RideAmigos for the nonprofit Denver Regional Council of Governments, offers trip-planning software that gives residents a convenient online resource to explore multiple commuter options.

Culvert Inventory for Climate Resilience, created by San Francisco’s Mashery, provides a user-friendly template and online video instructions and support to encourage “citizen scientists” to help create an inventory of culverts for regional transportation management agencies.

Local Food Alternatives in Washington County, an app submitted by the City of Hillsboro, OR, provides information on the availability of local and seasonal produce from nearby farms, markets.

 

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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