Posts Tagged ‘action’

Earthwatchers Software Interface

Get Ready for EarthWatchers created by Geodan for DeforestACTION

In an earlier post, I explained the idea of how young people around the world could collaborate to save the rainforests, inititally in Indonesia, using satellite monitoring.

On July 27th, the genius team at Geodan, lead by Dr.Eduardo Dias, will join Dr. Willie Smits, Dr. Cathy Henkel and young people from around the world for the launch of the technology that will make this dream a reality. If you want to join the live webcast of the launch, register here!  It will be fantastic for teachers, students and anyone who cares about the future of the planet.

The following explanation and outline of this ground breaking software is a re-post from Dr.Eduardo Dias’ personal blog.


DeforestAction EarthWatchers: Empowering world citizens in tropical forest monitoring via the integration of Earth Observation, social media, human computation and collaborative intelligence.

DeforestACTION is a global project that brings together young people across the planet with the goal of stopping deforestation in Borneo and protecting the habitat of wild Orangutans. Join us at www.deforestaction.org

Among other objectives, students will be able to monitor rain forests via specially designed (web)tools and satellite imagery to provide near real-time intelligence required to halt illegal deforestation. The project will start as a pilot in the province of Sintang, West Kalimantan (Borneo Indonesia), where agreements are established with the local community chiefs and the governor who support this project and offered their executive power to take ground action in stopping illegal activities.

Threaten high-value pristine forest in Borneo was split into millions of unique small cells, and each cell can be allocated to unique participants (youngsters all over the world called EarthWatchers) who monitor it as new satellite imagery becomes available. When they suspect changes/cuts in the forest they will report it in the web system and, operating in a crowd-sourcing approach using social media Facebook , all participants can confirm/dis-confirm. The most suspected areas will be visited by a special team on the ground to prove the suspected activities, report back to the EarthWatchers and involve the local executive power to stop the illegal activities.

This project is unique as it is the first to involve human computation and collective intelligence in the analysis of SAR imagery: while optical data can easily be understood by untrained users (our target group), especially true for “true color” and “natural color composites, the same ease-of-understanding is not usually a characteristic applied to SAR data, where specific expert knowledge and sophisticated processing techniques are needed to derive useful information. Nevertheless, we propose to use the untrained (and unconditioned) spirit of the children (that is free from academic assumptions) to explore the SAR data and we expect that they will uncover patterns and fine issues that might never be uncovered in automated efforts. At the same time, the children will learn about the background technology and potential of SAR earth observation, multiplying the understanding, market and target base of SAR users for the coming 5 to 10 years.

The webgis is also meant as a powerful classroom support tool, as it will make available and accessible many other GIS layers (infrastructure, DEM, oil Palm plantations, biodiversity indexes, socio-economic factors) so that the students not only watch the land, but actually understand the inter-relationships that are playing a role in deforestation. Negotiations are ongoing with education ministries (e.g. Australia, Indonesia, the Netherlands) to make this tool and materials part of the standard curricula.


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According to the CIA, the current average life expectancy for humans across the planet is 68.7 years, (ranging from the highest expectancy – 89.73 in Monaco, to the lowest – 38.76 in Angola).  Many predict the students in our classrooms today will live to over 100 years, provided the planet can sustain them.  In the past, the focus was on the number – ‘how long will we live?’.. now, the focus is shifting (especially in the minds of young people) to ‘how long will the planet sustain us?’ 
The core business of schools is to prepare students for prosperous, enriching and positive futures, providing them skills, understandings, resources and attitudes necessary to thrive.  In a recent survey, 7% of youth in the US answered “Yes” to the question “Is the world becoming a better place”. 
93% of schools students said they did NOT believe the world is becoming a better place.
With a barrage of depressing destruction posted on the news daily, apathy is replacing hope in our schools.  As educators, we should be considering the impact this is having on learning and be looking for ways to address this.
This clip, from DeforestAction’s brilliant cinematographer Patrick Rouxel (Award winning director of “Green“), paints a powerful picture.
No wonder there is depondency and apathy in our schools.  The climate change trajectory of our planet is accellerating in the wrong direction, with new prediction models suggesting billions of people will be forceably displaced within the next 30 years, compounded by increased disease, famine, war, drought and worse.  Even if we completely stop emitting CO2 universally, the amount already in the atmosphere will see the planet continue to warm for 200 years, so stopping emissions isn’t enough.  Al Gore made it very clear that awareness isn’t enough either. We need fundamental change, not incremental reduction in consumption.
The UN and other ineffective intergovernmental organizations can’t agree on how to take action. Copenhagen was an exercise in avoidance, trickery and wordsmithing.  Governments around the world seem content scheduling more meetings and shaking hands a lot in front of cameras.  Hybrid cars aren’t the answer, and hotels are surely having a laugh when they claim to be taking action by asking us whether or not we want to wash our towels every day.
Deforestaction is an expression of hope overpowering apathy.  It is young people having a voice, taking real, meaningful action to create a future they can accept – and it can work.   Stopping deforestation in Borneo in one year will make a bigger difference than any commitment we’ve seen from any government in the world. It is just the first step as we have heard, but perhaps the most immediate change we are seeing in our schools is the return of hope.  Hope is borne from the belief that every person can make the world a better place.
Schools need to deliver learning experiences that create hope.  Empowering students with real world tasks that will make a visible and real difference.  DeforestAction is one example of hope, voice and learning built around meaningful foci and is the kind of collaboration that will see our schools resume their position as the most empowering places in the world. 
DeforestAction is reminiscent of one of the great quotes from Ayn Rand’s famous book “Atlas Shrugged”:
Gerald Starnes yelled through the noise, “Remember that none of us may now leave this place, for each of us belongs to all the others by the moral law which we all accept!”
“I don’t,” said one man and stood up…… He stood like a man who knew that he was right. “I will put an end to this once and for all,” he said.
His voice was clear and without feeling…….. Gerald Starnes cried suddenly after him, “How?”
The man turned and answered, “I will stop the motor of the world.”
Then he walked out…….
– Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

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