PARIS, 1st December 2015 (WAM) — Google Maps and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have agreed to work closely together to make geospatial tracking and mapping products more accessible, providing a high-technology assist to countries tackling climate change and much greater capacity to experts developing forest and land-use policies.
Digital technology tapping into satellite imagery is revolutionizing the way countries can assess, monitor and plan the use of their natural resources, including monitoring deforestation and desertification.
“For FAO, this is not just a partnership. This is a strategic alliance,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, noting it combines FAO’s global effort to combat climate change with Google’s commitment to help on the climate data science and awareness fronts.
The three-year partnership between Google Maps and FAO is designed to foster innovation and expertise and sharply broaden access to easy-to-use digital tools. It ushers in a major ramping up of existing collaboration between the two organizations and will boost the visibility and implementation of efforts to encourage sustainable environmental practices around the world.
“This partnership is powerful because it unites the complementary strengths of UN FAO and Google,” said Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine&Earth Outreach. “FAO has decades of hard-won experience working on the ground in hundreds of countries on thousands of projects. Meanwhile, Google technology is at the cutting edge of big data, cloud computing, and transformatively-simple mapping tools. The FAO Collect Earth application brilliantly builds on top of Google Earth and Earth Engine to provide a simple but powerful global and national forest carbon monitoring tool, empowering countries as diverse as Chile, Panama, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Tunisia and Bhutan. We look forward to further strengthening this partnership in support of global climate action and sustainable development.”
Concretely, Google Maps will provide 1,200 trusted tester credentials on Google Earth Engine to FAO staff and partners, while also providing training and receiving feedback on users’ needs and experiences.
FAO will train its own staff and technical experts in member countries, upon their requests,, to use free and open source software tools developed within its Open Foris Initiative and using Google technology, for example Earth Engine.
The partnership foresees sharing knowledge and identifying needs that will broaden the kind of satellite data collected, broadening the focus to monitoring drylands and agricultural crop productivity.