Title: Democratizing Access to Global Water Information with Cloud Technologies
by Dr. Tyler A. Erickson
Geospatial data relevant to water resources and hydroinformatics are being collected and created at an ever increasing rate. New satellites, laden with sensors, are being launched by governments as well as by private companies. Weather, climate and Earth system models are producing forecasts at higher spatial and temporal resolutions. Local observations are being collected by smartphones and other devices that share data on the internet.
In the last decade, many of the important datasets produced by governments have been released using open data licenses. This trend recognizes that the real value of these datasets is not realized when they are collected or created, but rather when the data are used. As more data providers share their datasets openly, the problem is shifting to having to manage large volumes of data. The bandwidth required to move data around is now often the bottleneck, and the old paradigm of downloading data for local analysis is becoming impractical except for relatively small, localized analyses. Furthermore, these large data streams of raw satellite observations and model datasets need to be processed in order to derive useful information, but the processing steps are often specific to the particular use case.
These issues are being addressed via cloud computing technologies, where large datasets are co-located with processing capabilities in data centers and accessible via web-based tools and programming languages. This talk will focus on Earth Engine, a cloud computing platform for global-scale geospatial data analysis which was created by Google to address global-scale environmental issues. Cases studies on how the platform has been used by academics, governments, and NGOs to address water issues at regional, national, and international scales will be presented.