Full Event Data Innovation Generating Climate Solutions

Full Video – Data Innovation: Generating Climate Solutions

Data Innovation at COP23 reveals climate solutions

Robert Orr quote from keynote Climate Action and the 2030 AgendaWinners of Climate Solutions Awards Announced

UN Global Pulse and Western Digital announced the winners of the Data for Climate Action Challenge (D4CA) at an event kicking off the Sustainable Innovation Forum in Bonn during COP23. The event celebrated the winning projects and brought together business leaders, data scientists, and climate experts for interactive discussions, presentations, and demonstrations of data visualizations and innovations.

The event aimed to foster collaboration by providing a forum to share cutting-edge ideas, inspire collective action, and explore concrete ways to replicate and scale data innovation for SDG 13: Climate Action and the 2030 Agenda more broadly. Dave Tang discussed the potential data carries for addressing climate and other issues in his speech on Data Impact: The Business Case, “Every piece of data has something to say, and, as the volume, velocity, variety, and value of data grows, it tells a story of unlimited possibilities. Climate action is only the beginning. If we are able to capture, preserve, access and transform data, we can unlock solutions to help not only individuals, but our communities and our planet to thrive.”

Speakers from the United Nations, Western Digital, Twitter, Orange, Tableau, the World Resources Institute and more were featured throughout the evening. Winners of the Data for Climate Action Challenge were given the stage to present their solutions, showcasing novel combinations of datasets resulting in innovative ideas to drive climate action from each team.


Panel and Business Case discussions at Data Innovation Cop23 Event

The Challenge, an unprecedented data innovation competition to leverage big data and analytics for social good, was launched earlier this year by UN Global Pulse with support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund and Western Digital. It called on innovators, scientists and climate experts to harnesses the power of big data and data science to catalyze action on climate change. Nine companies donated anonymized datasets, and two companies donated tools that assisted the competitors in deriving thier solutions. Winning solutions ranged from pollution mitigation in Mexico City to winter seeding recommendations to enhance agricultural yield. We’ve highlighted each of the winning teams below, but will be publishing more in-depth explanations of each project over the next few months.

Hopefully one day, data donation and innovation challenges like this can become a regular part of how public/private collaboration takes place. As Robert Kirkpatrick so eloquently put it, “One day data philanthropy will be another pillar of how companies implement their sustainable business practices….[but] today it’s still business un-usual. If you want to scale this, if you want to take it to the stars, it’s going to take individual champions. That’s what we had in each of these companies, and it was extraordinary. They had the energy, the passion, the commitment, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Data for Climate Action winners announced at COP23 event

Electro-mobility: Cleaning Mexico City’s Air with Big Data & Climate Policy

Developed as a partnership between

INECC Berkeley Grand Prize Winner Teams

 INECC: Claudia Octaviano, Fabiola Ramirez, Oscar Araiza, Itzchel Nieto, Adolfo Contreras, Ulises Ruiz

UC Berkeley: Sergio Castellanos, Alex Gao, Daniel Kammen, Apollo Jain, Pedro Sánchez, Alan Xu, Hector Rincón



EMMA: Ecosystem Monitoring for Management Application

Developed as a partnership by

University of Buffalo University of Cape Town Data for Climate Action Thematic Winners

University of Buffalo: Adam Wilson

South African Environmental Observation Network and SEEC, Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town: Jasper Slingsby

Ixio Analytics and South African Environmental Observation Network: Glenn Moncrieff



Predicting and Alleviating Road Flooding for Climate Mitigation

Developed by the team from

Thematic Winners from Georgia Tech COP23 Data for Climate Action Challenge

Caleb Robinson, Amrita Gupta, Bistra Dilkina



Air Pollution Induced Micro-migrations: Impacts on Consumer Spending

Developed by the team from

Thematic Winners from YALE COP23 Data for Climate Action Challenge

John Brandt, Angel Hsu, Matt Moroney, Sophie Janaski



A Framework for the Optimization of Winter Wheat Seeding Date

Developed by Erdem Erikçi and Alper Erdoğan from Eriktronik Inc.



Data-Driven Modeling of Urban GHG Emissions

Developed by Constantine Kontokosta, Yuan Lai, Bartosz Bonczak, Sokratis Papadopoulos, Boyeong Hong, Awais Malik and Nicholas Johnson from New York University



  • “Uncovering the Impact of Climate Stress on Human Mobility and Resilience Using Mobile Phone Data,” Kamol Roy (University of Central Florida) and Samiul Hasan (University of Central Florida)
  • “Investigating Urban Climate Issues Through Multiple Geodata Sources: The ICARO Project,” Daniele Oxoli (Politecnico di Milano), Guilia Ronchetti (Politecnico di Milano), Marco Minghini (Politecnico di Milano), Monia Elisa Molinari (Politecnico di Milano), Gabriele Prestifilippo (Politecnico di Milano), Maria Antonia Brovelli (Politecnico di Milano), Giovanna Sona (Politecnico di Milano), Maryam Lotfian (Politecnico di Milano)
  • “Climate Fluctuations and Economic Sentiment,” Christos Makridis (Stanford University), Yi-Lin Tsai (Stanford University)
  • “Large High Resolution Display Environment for Visualizing and Analyzing CDR-based Mobility,” Timothy F. Truong (Imperial College London), David Birch (Imperial College London), Emmanuel Letouze (Data-Pop Alliance), Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye (Imperial College London)
  • “Tracking Poverty Using Satellite Imagery and Big Data,” Steffen Fritz (IIASA), Michael Van-Dijk (IIASA), Inian Moorthy (IIASA), Binh Nguyen (IIASA), Olha Danylo (IIASA), Jesus Crespo Cuaresma (IIASA)
  • “Understanding Gender Differentiated impacts of Climate Change in Social Media Discourse,” Amit Pariyar (Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak)
  • “Floods Impact Dynamics Quantified From Big Data Sources,” David Pastor-Escuredo (Technical University Madrid), Yolanda Torres (Technical University Madrid), Maria Martínez-Torres (Technical University Madrid), Pedro J. Zufiria (Technical University Madrid)

Data Makes Possible will be following the winners as they work to implement their solutions and bring real change to our world. We’ll also be publishing interviews with the thematic and data visualization winners in January and February.


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