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Google Powers Forest Protection Effort

By InformationWeek

February 27, 2014

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An online community-oriented map could fill a key role in the effort to protect forests around the world.

The new tool, called Global Forest Watch, uses mapping technology from Google and can track changes in forests in near-real time. The World Resources Institute partnered with Google and more than 40 other organizations to launch Global Forest Watch, which also uses Google Earth Engine, a cloud-based platform for geodata analysis, to process satellite images. The platform processed about 20 terapixels of image data, using 1 million central processing unit-core hours on 10,000 computers operating in parallel for several days. A single computer would have taken 15 years to complete the calculations.

Global Forest Watch also will use social data, such as personal accounts, photos, and videos that document forest abuse or restoration, to establish "ground truth." The tool will provide data layers that describe forest change, forest cover, forest use, conservation data, and reports about related issues from users.

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