Data Collaboration is Key to Accelerating Climate Action

Bridging the Big Data Divide

Climate change is a challenge affecting every person, in every country, on the planet. It is a challenge that no single person, or country, can tackle alone. And to tackle it effectively, information – data – is critical to informing decisions and actions.

Combining publicly available data with novel data sources to fill vital gaps and provide real-time feedback is key to effective action. This data can come from a myriad of sources previously unconsidered for public good initiatives. Consider data produced by cell towers; when it rains, the towers must boost their signals, effectively creating a real-time measure of rainfall density. In many cases, this data is discarded by the telecom companies. But imagine if we were able to link tower signal strength with local emergency response units who could receive in-the-moment alerts of a torrential downpour leading to flash flooding. Emergency management could know exactly where to respond and what residents to alert.

These novel data sources, the vast majority of which are held by private companies, are integral to helping us mitigate and bounce back from the impacts of climate change. They can come from anywhere. Consumer purchasing data gives us insight into eco-conscious product adoption and usage. Mobile top-off purchases can be correlated to the economic health and food security in a given region. When we layer the datasets together, we can identify patterns of climate effects and resilience, which in turn drive smarter, more effective solutions.

Unlocking Data’s Potential

But despite the fact that the world is estimated to have generated 3.77 Zettabytes of data by the close of 2016, most of it is in-accessible to researchers working on public good initiatives. Western Digital believes in the power of data to create a world that’s more predictive, more productive and more personal. That’s why Western Digital partnered with United Nations Global Pulse and Skoll Global Threats Fund to launch an unprecedented open innovation challenge to harness data science and big data from the private sector to catalyze action on climate change. It’s called the Data for Climate Action Challenge and you can learn more about it in the video above.

This year, data scientists, researchers, and innovators from around the world applied to participate in the Challenge. In April 2017, ninety-seven teams were selected to participate. On November 12, at the Sustainable Innovation Forum during COP23, the winners of this challenge will be announced. We can’t wait to see what innovative, and possibly world-changing, climate action solutions they’ve devised.

Join Us in Celebrating the Power of Data Collaboration

You are invited to discover the winning solutions with us during our livestream of this high-level event on November 12 at 10am Eastern/4pm Central European, accessible at The program will feature speakers from the United Nations, influential climate and data specialists, and business leaders sharing cutting-edge ideas to inform policy, inspire collective action, and explore concrete ways to replicate and scale data innovations for climate action.