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Contributing to the President’s Climate Data Initiative

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By Stephen Harper, Global Director of Environment and Energy Policy for Intel, and co-chair of DESSC

 I had the pleasure yesterday of attending the White House Climate Data Initiative launch event in the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building.   Attended by over 150 persons, including senior White House staffers, the event was chaired by John Podesta, Senior Advisor to President Obama. 

Featuring major commitments by DESSC members Intel, Google, Microsoft, A4WE, along with Esri, a leader in GIS software, the event highlighted the critical role that big data -- and tools to turn that data into actionable information for use by communities – plays in helping them prepare for and be more resilient to the impacts of sea level rise and major storm events. 

Also on display were the solid commitments by NOAA and NASA, who ‘own’ many key climate data sets, to lead the way in bringing heretofore hidden data into the light. 

Discussion among the participants after the event focused on how we transition from a successful program launch, and presumably successful individual projects, to growing momentum to use data to create software and other tools to genuinely improve the climate resilience of communities across the country.

As regards the Intel Corp announcement, we announced the development of three “hackathon” events in support of the Initiative. These events are part of Intel’s Code for Good program and will be hosted and focused in three very different locations – the Chesapeake Bay, New Orleans, Louisiana and San Jose, California.  In each location, Intel will join with local partners to sponsor engineering and computer science students coming together in competitive teams to develop new software applications and other tools to make good use of available data sets related to climate change resilience.   

Each of the Intel hackathons will have a different focus tailored to the host community’s priorities, with an emphasis on building a sense of local ownership of the resulting tools to promote implementation, followed by broad sharing to improve climate change resilience.   Our next step is to convene the right partners in each location to work out the key features of each hackathon to ensure local ownership of the results going forward.

We welcome the opportunity to be part of this important White House effort to improve community preparedness for climate change risks such as rising sea and bay levels, as well as more frequent extreme weather events. Stay tuned for the results of the hackathons and the other projects announced this week.
About the Author
Global Government and Manufacturing Communications for Intel