The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will use new Google-powered software and high-resolution satellite images to monitor the environment, resource and land use, and forest cover.
The software makes quick work of measurements that used to take years to create, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. “We make maps that used to take three years in a week,” Erik Lindquist, forestry officer at FAO explained.
“Rather than preparing data to analyze we can spend time probing the data for answers. We’re getting to answers much more quickly,” Linquist told the Thomson Reuters Foundation during a global forest conference in Rome.
The software, free to use by anyone from citizens to governments, can be used to measure the availability or lack of resources like water, firewood, and more.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the total forest area in the word, how much forest is being lost and gained, how is the land use changing and what are the effects on carbon emissions,” Lindquist said. “The more we use these tools the more we’re going to be sure of whether the situation is improving or getting worse.”
Image: Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas | Image Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT