Bay Area data scientist launching environmental storytelling app with access to global satellite images


Tucked among paleoanthropologists, ocean explorers, and astronauts, several of Silicon Valley’s emerging innovators will take the stage this week at the National Geographic Explorer’s Festival in Washington, D.C.

Among them is UC Berkeley-trained data scientist and San Francisco resident Dan Hammer. During a Friday panel on “The Power of Data-driven Storytelling,” he’ll announce a partnership between National Geographic, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, and the nonprofit he co-founded, Earthrise Media.

In conjunction with the development of The Tech Museum’s new Center for Technology and Sustainability, the Bay Area startup plans to launch an educational app that will file large quantities of satellite imagery from companies such as DigitalGlobe into a database, where it can be picked through and analyzed by unlikely environmental watchdogs: high school students.

“The imagery is there, the satellites are up, the algorithms are done,” said Hammer. “It’s just about assembling it.”

Within the Earthrise Media Storytelling app, students are assigned an environmental issue — such as drought or deforestation — by their teacher. They’re then tasked with searching the database for images from across the globe that convey those environmental changes. Similar to an Instagram story – the students then string together a series of snapshots that highlight these changes. They can share it with their teacher, peers in their class, and across the platform, where it can be picked up by media organizations. Eventually, Hammer said, computer algorithms within the database will become trained to recognize hotspots of environmental degradation based on the stories the students create.

“If hundreds of thousands of kids are using or engaging with changes that occur on the earth’s surface, we can help teach the computer to find those (changes),” said Hammer. “We can start reporting from changes on the earth’s surface without ever having a human look at it.”

Throughout Hammer’s career, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

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