We are happy to announce that we will have an invited speaker kicking off the workshop.
Ramanathan V. Guha – Google
Sustainability Data Commons
Climate change is happening. Climate deltas vary significantly across places. Existing food, health, shelter, etc. inequities are going to be worsened. To cope, we need a deep understanding of what might happen, to which communities, where and when. Unfortunately, the data required for this understanding is fragmented across thousands of organizations, in a cacophony of schemas and a multitude of databases. Doing any analysis involves much ‘data wrangling’: locating the data, cleaning it, aligning disparate schemas, etc. This expensive error prone process, which is repeated for each analysis, not only becomes a barrier to the use of data, but also leads to problems of reproducibility.
Google has ‘organized and made easily accessible’ many kinds of information — web pages, images, maps, etc. One of Google’s contributions to facing the climate crisis is to organize the data (climate, food, health, shelter, water, emissions, …) required for this understanding and make it easily accessible to consumers, journalists, policy makers and researchers. This is the charter of the Sustainability Data Commons effort.
Given the significance of the climate problem, Google is doing this in an open fashion, working together with universities, government labs and other companies. Concretely, this means having an anchor for Data Commons at a center in a university like Stanford. Such a center could provide not just the intellectual and academic leadership for data commons, but also provide a convening forum for other industry players to participate in what we hope will be a data platform that is used by everyone.