Today, we are excited to announce the next EcoHack World, the continuation of our three year mission to bring scientists, journalists, digital storytellers, software engineers, designers, and other hackers into the same room to tackle issues that matter. If you haven’t been before, EcoHack is about using technology to improve and better understand our natural environment, creating things that will have an impact, with no restrictions on how you get there. In the past, EcoHack has hosted everything from teams creating data visualizations to teams building kites to fly cameras. We have seen that by giving people an opportunity to collaborate on important environmental challenges that we can come up with innovative solutions.
For the first time ever, EcoHack will be a global event, with hackathons in New York City, San Francisco, and São Paulo, Brazil happening at the same time. This year Public Lab, Vizzuality, World Resources Institute, and Environmental News Lab have teamed together to organize this two day event across these locations.
New Climate Track
The Obama administration is today launching the Climate Data Initiative, an initiative to help individuals, organizations, and governments better understand the effects of climate change. The initiative is focused on the use of open data to help advance environmental science, preparedness, and education. In support of this important initiative, we have added a Climate Track to EcoHack World. We are going to look for the most interesting and innovative hack proposals related to climate change to bring to our events. If you have an app or visualization idea related to climate change, consider submitting to one of our three EcoHack locations. We’ll work hard to support your project and all the teams at the events.
If can be in one of our three host cities on May 9th and 10th, register for free and be sure to join us! If you have an important project you want to build a team around at EcoHack, be sure to submit those through the EcoHack website soon!
Reposted from blog.cartodb.com
Today we are excited to announce the launch of the Global Forest Watch (GFW), a dynamic online forest monitoring system that brings together near-real-time deforestation data, interactive mapping and analysis tools, and geospatial subscription services to monitor deforestation alerts in areas around the world. We developed GFW as part of a multiyear collaboration of over 40 partners led by World Resources Institute (WRI).
We are happy to see this important work released to the public. GFW will allow anyone in the world to visually explore the latest known deforestation activity coming from the worlds best sources. The platform unites data visualization, big data, crowd sourcing, and environmental monitoring, subjects that are all core to the Vizzuality mission. The platform is meant to empower everyone from government policy makers looking for comprehensive on data recent deforestation to indigenous communities who have a stake in the preservation of their local forests.
The technology behind GFW is open source with many of the data visualizations, graphs, and maps being powered by CartoDB. Even the temporal visualizations share technology with CartoDB’s Torque library. Finding innovative ways to visualize large-scale deforestation data in the browser has been particularly interesting for us and has been a fun area for development that we are proud to now have available now for public use.
As part of the GFW project, we worked closely with WRI’s new DataLab. We see the DataLab as an innovative way forward for WRI and a model for other non-profits and foundations to study. The DataLab is bringing together a team of big data thinkers and software engineers with advanced knowledge of global change issues. The DataLab is already allowing WRI to move quickly in areas that are otherwise difficult to enter without these cross-domain thinkers.
6GFW and the DataLab represent a step into the future for global change monitoring. We are grateful for having the opportunity to collaborate on such an important project.
Yesterday, Knight Foundation announced that Vizzuality has received a $35,000 grant to help build an open source tool for journalists that will enable better storytelling with maps online. We have long been advocates of creating data driven stories and this grant will allow us to help make it easier for everyone. As part of the Prototype Fund, our project aims to simplify the process of combining narratives, maps, transitions, and interactions into a single web page.
We are excited about the process and know that we will learn a lot along the way. The project will give us the opportunity to test and explore how newsrooms and independent journalists see interactive maps fitting into the stories they tell. It will let us dig deep into the how maps can enhance news stories and how text and multimedia can enhance maps. In the process, we will develop an experimental new library for combining maps and other content on the web. The library will be useful for both newsrooms and individuals trying to use maps in interesting ways.
Vizzuality and CartoDB join a group of 23 other projects working to explore new approaches to delivering information to the public. On our end, we will be collaborating with journalists to isolate and simplify some of the key online mapping techniques that help enrich and support digital stories. We are excited to get members of the journalism community involved. You can follow and take part in the development process on our Odyssey.js GitHub page or follow updates here on our blog.
If you are interested in the Knight Prototype Fund, applications for the next round of grants is due January 31st.
We had a great time last week at Visualized, a two-day conference exploring the evolution of communication at the intersection of big data, storytelling and design.
Javier de la Torre, Vizzuality’s CEO, was one of the “storytellers” invited to present new ideas on how to make a bigger impact when visually sharing data-driven stories, whether it is for personal use, business, education, or social innovation.
Javier took the stage for 20 minutes to talk about Planet Hunters and other projects crowdsourcing data to annotate millions of records, and build compelling stories that connect with audiences. You can check and download the presentation here.
Visualized is an inspiring gathering, and we were delighted to participate. Thanks to the organizers for the invitation.
Planet Hunters, a project by Zooniverse, announced this week the discovery of the first confirmed planet found by the citizen science initiative. The planet is labelled ‘Planet Hunters 1′, or PH1. There’s full info about the discovery on the project’s blog.
We developed the online tool to help amateur astronomers sieve through data taken by the NASA Kepler space mission and search for new planets. These huge amount of data consist of brightness measurements, or “light curves”, taken every thirty minutes for more than 150,000 stars. Participants can use the online tool to search for possible transit events.
The logic behind the project relies on the pattern recognition abilities of the human brain. Planet Hunter participants may outperform computers at finding signals in this type of data.
The online tool allows them to review and annotate the images. A minimum of three separate observed transits are needed as well as follow-up observations to confirm a possible candidate as a new planet.
PH1 has been confirmed by astronomers in Yale. It is a circumbinary planet (it orbits two stars instead of one) that is about 3,200 light-years from Earth. As of October 15, 2012, there are sixteen confirmed systems of circumbinary planets. The discovery has been a true team effort and has received wide press coverage by publications like Wired, BBC and NPR.
"Anyone viewing the sky from PH1 would have a spectacular view of all four stars", as it is described in the Planet Hunters blog. "More importantly, this amazing system will help us understand how and where planets can form —producing a stable planet in a system where four different stars are moving about can’t be easy."
Here there is a list of other Planet Hunters candidates. Congrats to the Planet Hunter team for this amazing discovery!
We’ve been today in Zurich at The Graphical Web, an amazing conference for discussing “what is aesthetically possible on the web”. @saleiva has participated in a session on 2D Web Mapping and Web-GIS showing advanced mapping techniques and hacks used in Vizzuality’s real projects.
You can check and download the presentation here.
The abstract of the talk is also available at the conference’s website. Thanks to the organizers for the invitation!
The Old Weather Project, a citizen science initiative by Zooniverse, has reached its goal: all the logbooks from 280 World War I Royal Navy ships have been read and transcribed in their entirety. This means over 1 million, six hundred thousand new weather observations have been recovered resulting in an amazing treasure trove of information. Congratulations to the entire community of volunteers, project partners and everybody who has been following it.
Vizzuality built the project’s site, a collaborative tool to help online volunteers transcribe the handwritten pages; containing one of the earliest and most systematic collections of climate data across the oceans. Where the computers failed, volunteers have carefully annotated the digitized logs.
This is an image of the tool used to read the photographed logs online and transcribe its content:
This body of work, compiled by a virtual army of volunteers, will help scientist and researchers build a more accurate picture of how the climate has changed. The records also contain ample historical data and stories that will permit historians to track ship movements and understand the circumstances of the people on board.
"We’ve got the weather records, and richer and more detailed and extensive historical infomation than we expected, but we’ve got much more than that: we’ve grown an amazing community of project participants, and we’ve planted the seeds for several other projects with similar aims", reads the post on the milestone published at the Old Weather blog.
Here at Vizzuality we are very excited to have helped building this community that collected all this data. OldWeather is one of the projects that best defines Vizzuality, in its goals and in the way it’s been executed. Over the next couple of months you will see another similar project, this time working with Biodiversity data, lets hope it is as successful as OldWeather.
A new dataset for climatologist is created! Today our inner science geeks and the environmentalist we have inside is overwhelmed with joy.
Two weeks ago we launched The Evolution of the Web, a revamped, dynamic visualization of the history of web technologies and browsers, and the growth of global internet users and traffic since the early nineties. This work was done in collaboration with the Google Chrome team and Hyperakt. The Evolution of the Web project launched for the first time in 2011 has grown and improved with each version.
The web today is a growing universe of interlinked web pages and web apps, teeming with videos, photos, and interactive content. What the average user doesn’t see is the interplay of web technologies and browsers that makes all this possible. — Evolution of the Web 2.0
The Evolution of the Web uses a timeline to illustrate the interaction between web technologies and how they’ve evolved. The visualization highlights how each new technology has given web developers the ability to create “new generations of useful and immersive web experiences” from 1991 through present day.
The visualization is made with vector shapes and it is mobile and tablet-ready for Android and iOS. There’s also a brand new visualization included that shows the growth of internet —both global internet users and global internet traffic.
The result is an appealing, responsive visualization of the technologies that make browsing the internet a great experience. If you have attended the Google I/O conference for developers (June 26-29, San Francisco), you may have seen it projected on the big screen on Day 2 of the keynote. Otherwise, you can experience it at www.evolutionoftheweb.com (best viewed on Chrome 19+, Firefox 13+, Safari 5+, Opera 11+, or Internet Explorer 9+), or read a full description of the project here: http://vizzuality.com/projects/evolutionofweb20.
These are exciting days at Vizzuality. In the last two weeks we’ve launched some of the biggest projects we’ve been involved so far, the Endangered Languages Project and the Evolution of the Web visualization. And we’ve received great feedback.
The Endangered Languages Project, a collaborative tool developed to facilitate the work of linguists and volunteers documenting endangered languages, has received coverage from hundreds of publications worldwide like CNN, TechCrunch and Mashable. It was also linked at Google’s home page. We are learning a lot about scalability this week. I think our team deserves a badge for “I developed an app that was on the Google home page and it did not go down and responded in less than 150ms”. A little bit long for a t-shirt, but quite a story!
These are images from Google.com, Google France and Google Hong Kong, but we were all around the globe:
And yesterday, Google’s senior VP of Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai, showed our latest project Evolution of the Web in his keynote presentation at Google I/O 2012 Developer’s Conference held in San Francisco. It is really impressive to see our work in such a huge screen and with thousands of people looking at it.
This is a photo taken from the live video streaming of the conference:
We will explain in a future post the details of this visualization of the history and pace of innovation in web browsers —we developed it for Google in collaboration with our friends at Hyperakt. Meanwhile, we wanted to share with you the images above.
What a week!
We just finished a new project called Endangered Languages Project, an online collaborative effort to protect global linguistic diversity. We developed it for the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity under the direction and supervision of Google.org.
It is estimated that half of 6,000 plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to prevent it. There is a need of new tools and services to reverse this trend and keep all languages alive, especially those unwritten and still undocumented —and at higher risk of becoming extinct in the near future.
The information available about many languages “is scant or outdated”, according to the Linguistic Society of America. In order to preserve them, linguists are trying to collect as much information as possible. The goal of the Endangered Languages Project was to develop a collaborative site to facilitate the work of linguists and volunteers documenting endangered languages, and empower their effort.
This video introduces the initiative.
From the technical side, it was a challenge. We had to design a user-friendly tool considering different kinds of users and their respective needs: From expert linguists to language speakers and volunteers from all around the world. We had to edit and display the almost-raw academic documentation in an attractive and meaningful way while preserving its rigor. The site also had to support standards like OLAC to describe language metadata.
The resulting tool we have built is a robust, scalable site with full information about more than 3,000 endangered languages. Registered users can enhance or correct any entries, and provide new samples and documents about languages.
"You can hear the heartbreaking, beautiful sound of Koro being sung, or read 18th century manuscripts written in a nearly-dead Native American tongue”, says an article on the project published at Mashable.
“Documenting the 3,000+ languages that are on the verge of extinction is an important step in preserving cultural diversity,” write project managers Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, from Google.org.
The Endangered Languages Project promotes a full collaboration between linguists and the general public to empower the documentation of endangered languages. We are very proud to be part of this great effort.
More info: vizzuality.com/projects/endangeredlanguages/