Innovation That Matters

| Photo source NASA on Unsplash

High-resolution imagery to measure the impact of climate change


A cheap and easy-to-use software system is helping democratise impact assessment risk models

Spotted: An impact assessment is a vital tool in combating climate change. Assessments collect data to evaluate current and projected risks or impacts of environmental change on communities, economic activities, infrastructure, ecosystems, and more. While conducting an environmental assessment may seem like a straightforward task, it can be difficult to collect the necessary information to measure risk factors.

Now, a small company in Puerto Rico has developed software to generate risk models easily and rapidly. The company, Terra Firma, was founded by island native Alejandro Mieses Castellanos, who was motivated to help hurricane-prone Puerto Rico become better protected from the effects of climate change.

Terra Firma uses satellite data, aerial imagery, and historical data to create models to forecast risks such as erosion, landslides, and flooding. What makes the company unique is that its software doesn’t just offer a snapshot of a particular area or moment, but aggregates and unifies multiple datasets to track environmental risk from as far back as 1941 to the present day.

The Terra Firma platform features an intuitive interface that aids users in forecasting risk up to 30 years in the future. This type of highly detailed and extended forecast was previously available only to projects with large budgets and teams of engineers. Instead, Terra Firma offers low prices that are affordable to communities and organisations working to protect their land – essentially democratising environmental forecasting.

The lowered cost of satellite data, compared to even a few years ago, is leading to a host of innovations helping to mitigate the damage caused by climate change, and a number of these are also targeted at those least able to afford the cost of mitigation. Springwise has spotted an insurance product that pays farmers automatically in the event of drought or flooding and a platform that can optimise agricultural water use.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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