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The President’s Climate Data Initiative: Empowering America’s Communities to Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change

Climate change is a fact. While it is important to find ways to cut emissions and develop technologies that will lessen our impact on the planet, it is equally important to deal with the new climate and environmental realities we are facing. Last week, President Obama announced the launch of the Climate Data Initiative — a broad effort to leverage the Federal Government’s extensive, freely-available climate-relevant data resources to stimulate innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in support of national climate-change preparedness.

The Administration has made a number of commitments, many of which involve Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Administrator for NOAA has attended meetings with the White House to discuss moving these commitments forward. The White House issued a fact sheet on the initiative that offers more detail, but several important priorities for EDA’s sister bureau NOAA include:

  • Launch of climate.data.gov
  • Launch of NASA and NOAA Innovation Challenge on Coastal Vulnerability and Preparedness
  • NOAA Request for Information on Increasing Access to Environmental Data
  • Expanding Stakeholder Outreach & Engagement

Yet it isn’t enough for the federal government to leverage its own resources – the private sector needs to use the information available to build tools that will help make America’s communities more resilient to climate change and to forge cross-sector partnerships to make those tools as useful as possible. The President also laid out several private sector commitments in his announcement. A full list is available in the White House fact sheet, but here are a few highlights:

  • Intel Corporation: Fostering Regional Partnerships and Hosting Hackathons to Boost the Development of Climate Resilience Tools.
  • Google: Providing Vast Cloud Computing Resources to Spur Creation of High-Resolution Drought and Flood Mapping, Apps, and Tools for Climate Risk Resilience.
  • Climate Central: Releasing New Web Tools to Assess Local-Scale Sea Level Rise.
  • Microsoft Research: Providing Climate Scientists with New Tools and Computing Resources.
  • The World Bank: Launching New Initiative for Global Use of Open Data for Climate and Disaster Resilience.
  • Antioch University New England: Creating New Academic Center for Climate Preparedness and Resilience.
  • MIT Climate CoLab: Crowdsourcing Solutions to Global Climate Change Preparedness.

The environment is a shared resource and a shared responsibility, and everyone needs to work together to safeguard it. This initiative is just one example of how government and the private sector are joining forces to address climate change.