Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation



Congress on Harnessing Big Data for the Environment

December 6-7, 2016

American Geophysical Union Conference Center
2000 Florida Ave NW

Washington, DC



Program       Registration        Further REading

 Congress Program Committee

The volume of data generated today – and our ability to process and analyze it – is unprecedented. This new big data paradigm results in data sets that are too large and too complex to be processed by traditional applications. When supported by emerging analytical capabilities, big data represents a source for ongoing and refined discovery and analysis of social, market, and environmental trends and opportunities.

Big data represents a new frontier in data collection and analysis, and is not without challenges. These include the cleaning, storage, and visualization of raw information, as well as information privacy. When these challenges are overcome, advanced methods of analyzing big data can enable more confident decision-making, leading to more effective and efficient outcomes.

Despite growing recognition of the capabilities of big data, we are only just beginning to appreciate the implications of enhanced monitoring and visualization competences for natural resources management and environmental policy.

Big data and associated monitoring, analysis and visualization technologies can enable scientists and policymakers to translate large amounts of data into usable formats and develop the knowledge needed to address complex, multidisciplinary environmental issues. Indeed, big data analysis is increasingly being applied by government agencies, NGOs and businesses to address environmental and sustainability issues at all scales.

RNRF’s 2016 Congress on Harnessing Big Data for the Environment will explore the implications of this data deluge for decision-making in natural resources management and environmental policy, and how it can be harnessed to facilitate informed and effective responses to complex issues. It also will feature discussion of the promise, challenges, and limitations associated with big data collection, analysis and use; and identification of high-priority data gaps for the management of critical resources. The unique capabilities and priorities of the private and public sectors will be examined, as well as the implications of residual budgetary pressures from the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The second day of the congress will feature five case studies highlighting the use of big data as a decision-making tool for on-the-ground action from a global to local scale. Speakers will discuss their experiences navigating the big data landscape to restore and sustain critical natural resources.

Summaries of presentations, findings, and recommendations of participants are presented in a special edition of the Renewable Resources Journal available here.

speakers


1
2
3
4
Lucas Joppa
Microsoft Research
Ruth Duerr
Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship

Robert Chen
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Brad Garner
U.S. Geological Survey
5
6
7
8
Matthew Hansen
University of Maryland

Matt Hourihan
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Kristin Tolle
Microsoft

Jeff de La Beaujardière
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

9
10
11
12
Carl Gouldman
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Rachael Petersen
World Resources Institute


Matt Cooper
Conservation International
Gerald "Stinger" Guala
U.S. Geological Survey

13



Rizwan Khaliq
IBM Global Public Sector and Smarter Cities




  

pROGRAM

Tuesday, December 6: Big Data Foundations     

8:00 am – 8:30 am
Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am – 8:40 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

Richard Engberg
Chairman, RNRF Board of Directors
North Bethesda, Maryland

8:40 am – 9:10 am

The data revolution and what it means for the environment
What is big data in the context of the environmental field? What promise does it hold for better environmental knowledge and decision-making? What are the current challenges and limitations of applying big data for the environment? 

Lucas Joppa
Scientist
Microsoft Research
Seattle, Washington

Video

9:10 am – 9:25 am
Questions and Discussion

9:25 am – 9:55 am
Frontiers in data collection, storage and sharing

How have new and emerging capabilities (satellites, crowd sourcing/ citizen science, improved sensors, etc.) facilitated better (more accurate, more timely, over larger geographic areas, etc.) data collection? How have new storage capabilities facilitated the data revolution? How do we address the challenges associated with data quality, sharing (access and availability), and security?

Ruth Duerr
Research Scholar
Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship
Denver, Colorado

PowerPoint Slides

9:55 am – 10:25 am
Questions and Discussion

10:25 am – 10:40 am
Break

10:40 am – 11:10 am
Frontiers in data analysis, visualization, and application
       
What new and emerging capabilities do we have for analyzing and communicating data? How can data in different formats be better integrated? How can we answer environmental questions and inform decision-making better or in different ways than before? What are the opportunities and challenges facing this application of big data for decision-making?

Robert Chen
Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Palisades, New York

Video

11:10 am – 11:40 am
Questions and Discussion

11:40 am – 12:40 pm
Data needs for natural resources management and environmental policy

What are the highest priority data gaps that need to be filled to increase understanding of and improve environmental indicators? What data are needed to develop, monitor and evaluate policies in the United States? 

           11:40 am – 12:00 pm
           Water

           Brad Garner
           Hydrologist
           U.S. Geological Survey
           Reston, Virginia

           Video

           12:00 pm – 12:10 pm
           Questions and Discussion

           12:10 pm – 12:30 pm   
           Land Cover

           Matthew Hansen
           Professor, Geographical Sciences
           University of Maryland
           College Park, Maryland

           Video          
           PowerPoint Slides

           12:30 pm – 12:40 pm
           Questions and Discussion 

12:40 pm – 1:30 pm
Lunch 

1:30 pm – 1:45 pm
Continuing sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011: Impacts on science and technology funding

Sustaining support for science and technology under budget caps.

Matt Hourihan
Director, Research & Development Policy Program
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Washington, District of Columbia

Video
PowerPoint Slides

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm   
Questions and Discussion 

2:00 pm  - 2:30 pm   
Private sector capabilities

How does the private sector harness big data for the environment? What unique capabilities does this sector have for implementing big data analysis to answer questions and solve problems?

Kristin Tolle
Director of Program Management
Advanced Analytics Team
Microsoft
Seattle, Washington

Video
PowerPoint Slides

2:30 pm – 3:10 pm       
Questions and Discussion

3:10 pm – 3:40 pm   
Public sector role and capabilities

What is the role of the federal government in harnessing big data for the environment? What unique capabilities does this sector have for implementing big data analysis to answer questions and solve problems?

Jeff de La Beaujardière
Data Management Architect and Environmental Data Management Committee Chair
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Silver Spring, Maryland

Video
PowerPoint Slides

3:40 pm – 4:10 pm       
Questions and Discussion


Wednesday, December 7: Applications of Big Data for Sustainability and Natural Resources Conservation
    

Case studies highlighting the use of data and innovative technologies to answer questions and facilitate informed responses to environmental issues.
—    What unique challenges were faced in collecting, storing and accessing relevant, high quality data? What approaches were key to success?
—    Is data readily available for this need? What information would be valuable to have?
—    What data science/ analytical techniques were applied?
—    How have partnerships facilitated data access and improved technological and analytical capabilities? 
—    How is this application being used as a decision-making tool for on-the-ground action?


8:00 am – 8:30 am        
Continental Breakfast

8:30 am – 8:40 am       
Introduction

8:40 am – 9:10 am   
U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)

Carl Gouldman
Deputy Director
U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Silver Spring, Maryland

Video
PowerPoint Slides

9:10 am – 9:40 am        
Questions and Discussion

9:40 am – 10:10 am   
Global Forest Watch

Rachael Petersen

Impacts Manager, Global Forest Watch
World Resources Institute
Washington, District of Columbia

Video
PowerPoint Slides

10:10 am – 10:40 am       
Questions and Discussion

10:40 am – 11:00 am    
Break

11:00 am – 11:30 am       
Vital Signs 

Matt Cooper
Data Manager, Vital Signs
Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans
Conservation International
Arlington, Virginia

Video
PowerPoint Slides

11:30 am – 12:00 pm  

Questions and Discussion

12:00 pm – 12:45 pm   
Lunch 

12:45 pm – 1:15 pm   
Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON)

Gerald "Stinger" Guala
Branch Chief, Eco-Science Synthesis
Director of Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON)
Director of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)
Core Science Analytics, Synthesis and Libraries
Core Science Systems
U.S. Geological Survey
Reston, Virginia

PowerPoint Slides

1:15 pm – 1:45 pm       
Questions and Discussion

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm       
Break

2:00 pm – 2:15 pm   
IBM Smarter Cities: Infrastructure (Water, Transportation, Energy)

Rizwan Khaliq
Director, Marketing and Communications
IBM Global Public Sector and Smarter Cities
Washington, District of Columbia

Video
PowerPoint Slides

2:15 pm – 2:30 pm       
Questions and Discussion

2:30 pm – 3:15 pm       
Congress Wrap-Up and Discussion

Robert Day
RNRF Executive Director
North Bethesda, Maryland

REGISTERED Delegate Affiliations


American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Fisheries Society
American Geophysical Union
American Meteorological Society
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Landscape Architects
American Water Resources Association
ArchPlan, Inc.
Auburn University, GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory
Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases
Columbia University, The Earth Institute
Conservation International
Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment
Environmental Defense Fund, Coastal Protection
Environmental Defense Fund, Office of Chief Scientist
Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Fudan University
Geological Society of America
IBM Global Public Sector and Smarter Cities
Microsoft
Microsoft Research
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Office of U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy
Pennsylvania State University, College of Information Sciences and Technology
Ramboll Environmental
Renewable Natural Resources Foundation
Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship
Society of Wood Science and Technology
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
The Wilderness Society, Energy and Climate Program
Timmons Group
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Global Change Research Program
U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
University of Georgia, Georgia Sea Grant
University of Maryland, Department of Geographical Sciences
University of Maryland, Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Maryland, Division of Research
University of Vermont, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
USDA Forest Service, Research
Washington State University, School of the Environment
World Resources Institute




Further Reading


A World that Counts: Mobilising The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. UN Secretary General's Independent Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. 2014.

Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas

Big Data and Environmental Protection: An Initial Survey of Public and Private Initiatives. Environmental Law Institute. 2014.

Big Data in U.S. Agriculture. Congressional Research Service. 2016.

Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON)

CAIT Climate Data Explorer

Computational Sustainability Network

Data Intelligence for 21st Century Water Management: A Report from the 2015 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum. Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and The Aspen Institute Energy & Environment Program.

Ecoinformatics-based Open Resources and Machine Accessibility (EcoINFORMA)

The Federal Big Data Research and Development Strategic Plan. The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program. 2016.

Global Forest Watch

Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)

IBM Smarter Cities

Sustainability in the Age of Big Data. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. 2014.

U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System

Vital Signs



Congress Program committee


Chair:
Richard Engberg, RNRF Chairman; American Water Resources Association

Members:
Tom Chase, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Director, Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers
Robert Day, RNRF Executive Director
John E. Durrant, RNRF Vice-Chairman; Sr. Managing Director, Engineering & Lifelong Learning, American Society of Civil Engineers
Sarah Gerould, RNRF Board Member; Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Erik Hankin, RNRF Board Member; Program Manager, Student Programs, American Geophysical Union
Paul Higgins, RNRF Board Member; Director, Policy Program, American Meteorological Society
Howard Rosen, RNRF Board Member; Society of Wood Science and Technology
Ya'el Seid-Green, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Policy Program Associate, American Meteorological Society
Nancy C. Somerville, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Executive Vice President, American Society of Landscape Architects
Barry Starke, RNRF Board Member; American Society of Landscape Architects; Principal, Earth Design Associates, Inc.
Kasey White, RNRF Board Member; Director of Geoscience Policy, Geological Society of America

RNRF Staff Liaisons:
Nicolas Kozak, Program Director
Melissa M. Goodwin
, former Program Director
Jennee Kuang, former Program Associate

Special Thanks To:

Robert Chen, Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University
Stefano Ermon, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Gerald "Stinger" Guala, Branch Chief, Eco-Science Synthesis, U.S. Geological Survey
Angel Hsu
, Assistant Professor Adjunct, Yale-NUS College, Singapore
David Thau, Senior Development Advocate, Google Earth Engine

Individuals attending Renewable Natural Resources Foundation events may be videotaped, audiotaped or photographed during the course of a meeting. By attending the RNRF Congress on Harnessing Big Data for the Environment, delegates grant RNRF the right to use your name, photograph, biography, and the content of any comments, if any, in RNRF educational, news, or promotional material, whether in print, electronic or other media, including the RNRF website.



Introduction        Program        Registration        Further Reading        Congress Program Committee