To accelerate global conservation through innovative technology and data science, a partnership between Coastal Resilience—The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) largest suite of geospatial technology tools —and Microsoft was developed. Through this partnership, TNC and Microsoft are applying artificial intelligence (AI) and geographic information systems (GIS) to expose the value of nature-based solutions to key decision makers across governments, businesses and global institutions.
The ambitious portfolio of work within the TNC-Microsoft partnership is part of the reason that Coastal Resilience was awarded this year’s Geospatial World Excellence Award for its state-of-the-art mapping technology, which continues to push the needle on conservation technology and inform land use decisions on coasts around the globe. The award will be presented at the Geospatial World Forum 2018 in Hyderabad, India on January 19. The forum represents the largest gathering of the international geospatial community, highlighting the power of geospatial technology to address global social and economic issues.
While the Coastal Resilience program is honored to receive this award, TNC recognizes that this work is only just beginning. Microsoft has committed to supporting Coastal Resilience technology on their Azure platform to scale the program’s conservation impact through robust cloud computing, harvesting big data and leveraging AI and cognitive services.
Further, the organizations are engaging in collaborative projects to test these technological innovations for conservation. First, machine learning will be applied to TNC’s Community Rating System (CRS) Explorer application to more easily identify open space preservation opportunities across a variety of land types. These land preservation opportunities translate to credit (insurance premium reductions) in the United States’ FEMA CRS program while contributing to improved floodplain management.
Microsoft’s cloud computing big data and Power BI capabilities will be applied to international Coastal Resilience work where the Conservancy is supporting the Red Cross Resilient Coastal Cities project in Semarang, Indonesia. The technology will visualize mangrove restoration scenarios alongside flooding and social vulnerability data for the city of Semarang in order to help identify ways that nature can build both social and ecological resilience for disaster management.
Geospatial World Excellence Award not only brings recognition to the outstanding growth and impact the Coastal Resilience program has had over the last decade, but will also help broaden its reach in coastal communities internationally. As the implementation for these pilot projects begins, TNC and Microsoft intend to explore opportunities to maximize their conservation impacts while advancing them across new geographies, benefiting both people and nature.