WASHINGTON (April 11, 2018)— World Resources Institute and more than 30 partners are launching Resource Watch, a dynamic platform that provides trusted and timely data for a sustainable future. It leverages technology and near-real-time data to bring much-needed transparency on the state of the planet’s people, resources and commerce all in one place.
Resource Watch is being launched at the event "Open Data in a Closing World" at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrator, and Dr. Mae Jemison, former astronaut, will deliver keynote speeches. Additional featured speakers include Andrew Steer, President and CEO of WRI, Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President of National Geographic Society, Rebecca Moore, Director of Google Earth, representatives from technology companies, media outlets and more.
“When our institutions are being tested and science is facing unprecedented attacks, we must increase transparency and speak with clarity and conviction in support of sound science,” said Administrator McCarthy, Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors. “Tools like Resource Watch are essential for making science accessible to decision makers so we can turn science into actions that advance policies, technologies and products that improve public health.”
Resource Watch was created in the face of two global challenges: a proliferation of data, and declining trust in institutions. Decision-makers are drowning in a sea of data yet can't find the information they need. That's where Resource Watch comes in: an easy-to-use monitoring tool that curates and visualizes reliable data. Now, users can see where shrinking reservoirs could cause instability, which cities’ air pollution levels pose a serious threat to their residents’ health, and watch a coral reef transform from bleaching over time.
"The world's most vexing sustainability challenges – climate change, food security, population growth, water scarcity and more – are deeply intertwined. Yet too often people and data are stuck in silos,” said Janet Ranganathan, Vice President, Science and Research, World Resources Institute. “Now, Resource Watch allows users to see how issues intersect by visualizing and overlaying data in new ways. It helps analysts and decision-makers cut through the daunting mountain of data to find the signal in the noise."
Resource Watch features hundreds of data sets on the challenges facing human society and the environment. Users can explore and overlay datasets on climate change, poverty, state instability, urban infrastructure and more. They can also download, analyze and visualize the data in countless ways, and share their insights.
Today marks the first day that Resource Watch open to the public – the platform is free for all users and will continue to grow stronger and smarter as WRI adds new data layers and functionality every week.
"Until recently it wasn't possible to monitor the health of Earth's critical resources in both a globally consistent and locally relevant manner,” said Rebecca Moore, Director of Google Earth. “Now with satellite data, cutting-edge science and powerful cloud computing technology like Google Earth Engine, we can achieve an unprecedented understanding of our changing environment and use that to guide wiser decision-making. Google is excited to partner with WRI on Resource Watch and the new global power plant database, putting this vision into practice, and this data into the hands of those who can take action.”
By looking at a single issue, people often fail to understand the full nature of a problem. Resource Watch allows users to overlay data sets and explore the interconnectedness of the world to start to change it. By breaking down traditional silos and studying how issues intersect, users can more effectively understand the causes and solutions to key problems.
“We need to stop taking water for granted. Failure to manage water in a sustainable, transparent and inclusive way, and neglect or misuse of our water resources gives water the power to harm, divide or even destroy societies,” said Ambassador Henne Schuwer of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “With Resource Watch, governments, businesses and citizens will have a new tool to visualize and understand how water intersects with other issues to help create a healthier and more secure society.”
Resource Watch shows what is happening on the planet right now to match our response to the pace of change. Pulling from near-real-time satellites and ground sensors, the system helps users track and visualize fires, floods, landslides, air quality, natural disasters and other world events as they unfold. And this will only get more useful as additional real-time-data sets are added each month.
“With Resource Watch, WRI provides a groundbreaking, much needed new tool to anyone who is working in the frontlines of environmental protection, restoration, and sustainable development,” said Maas Goote, CEO, DOB Ecology. “DOB Ecology decided to fund the development of Resource Watch not only because it will significantly increase the chances of success of our partners with their difficult work on the ground, but also because WRI will put Resource Watch in the public domain with free access for all — a truly invaluable service to the global community.”
“Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation Plan is driven by credible data,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, Global VP Sustainability, Mars Incorporated. “Resource Watch makes it easier to find and use data to guide the implementation of our plan in a way that will advance impact at scale.”
Resource Watch’s underlying data infrastructure (API) is open source, meaning that others can build on it to create their own custom, self-branded applications. In this way, Resource Watch is a global public good, enabling any organization to leverage the data revolution for their own causes. The Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREPdata) is the first example of a custom interface to improve access to climate data and help communities build climate resilience, and others are being developed.
“Resource Watch’s open source architecture allows other initiatives to leverage its data and visualization capability, creating economies of scale and data synergies,” said Prof Sir Andy Haines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.“Resource Watch could power the development of a 'Planetary Health Watch' system by making it possible to monitor environmental trends and their effects on human health.”