Microsoft Planetary Computer helps to facilitate Digital Earth Pacific

Alice Chambers
Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers on 10 March 2022
Microsoft Planetary Computer helps to facilitate Digital Earth Pacific
Getty

A weather satellite took this shot of a large hurricane sweeping over Fiji and Tonga

The Pacific Community (SPC), which includes scientific and technological organisations from 27 countries and territories within the Pacific Islands, is launching Digital Earth Pacific to track and analyse the impact of global disasters and climate change in the region.

Storms and hurricanes are destroying the environment of the Pacific Islands, including the rising sea levels and rising temperatures having a negative impact on the coral reef and its ecosystem. SPC will develop a platform that uses environmental data and earth-observation satellites, built on Microsoft’s Planetary Computer and the cloud, as well as artificial intelligence technology to access, analyse and model data. This will provide real-time understanding of issues and help SPC to develop solutions to environmental problems.

SPC will have access to petabytes of global satellite and environmental data through Microsoft Planetary Computer. The organisation is also leveraging Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and Azure Cognitive Services to build insight-rich solutions.

“This information is basically just sitting in data stores in other parts of the world, but until now, the Pacific nations haven’t been able to use it,” said Andrew Jones, director of the geoscience, energy and maritime division at SPC.

Analysis of data gathered by satellites before disasters occur, such as volcano activity, earthquakes and tsunamis, can help with recovery efforts and assessments of crop damage and water contamination.  

“Pacific Island nations have for many years found it difficult to access and use earth observation (by satellites) as a tool to understand challenges in the environment, and how it affects the decisions made concerning our environment and the lives of Pacific Islanders,” said Meizyanne Hicks, director of the geospatial information division for Fiji’s Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources. “Pacific Island nations will be able to access not only archived earth observation data that is free, but also processed earth observation data brought together in a meaningful way that will greatly benefit our decision makers.”

Read more about the development of the platform here.

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