13 new apps to fight climate change

13 new apps to fight climate change

Coastal Resilience app.

What if climate change had a flavor, an odor or a color? Chances are, we would be much more aware of the problems we will be facing in the future when natural disasters become more severe, sea levels rise, and temperatures go awry. To make the invisible a little more visible and the intangible a little more tangible, some smart software programers have set out to create mobile apps to help communities understand the challenges of climate change and prepare for the future.

Utilizing highly sophisticated geographical information science (GIS), people in Los Angeles can now use their smart phones to locate, report and track water waste. Minnesota's citizen are now possessing a tool that allows them to easily identify the best locations for solar installations, and residents of Washington County in the State of Oregon can identify sources of local produce with a few taps on their phones – just to name some features of the apps 13 finalists of the Climate Resilience App Challenge 2014 present.

Inspired by President Barack Obama's call for action to make the public see global warming as an immediate problem, the software company Esri orchestrated the competition. Esri is specialized in geographical information science, helping companies like Starbucks to find the best location for its next store or police to crack down on crime.

“We created the Climate Resilience App Challenge to inspire all developers to think creatively and build resourceful apps that drive critical environmental decision-making, affect climate change, and create a more sustainable future,” said Jack Dangermond, president and co-founder of Esri.

“We received high-caliber submissions and are thrilled to announce our top 13 finalists, each of which demonstrates technology that empower communities to address climate change as we proactively work with President Obama to use geographic solutions to create a more resilient generation.”

The winners will be announced at the Esri User Conference in San Diego on July 14. Greenbiz presents you the 13 teams that are still in the running:

1. Modeling Community Erosion from Climate Change 

Based on modeling current and future soil erosion with high-resolution scientific data, the app allows users to locate sites that are vulnerable to erosion, predicts soil-loss driven by climate change, and enables users to investigate erosion risks for future land covers. 

2. Minnesota Solar Suitability Analysis

Users are able identify the suitability of a location for solar panel installations by locating their home or current location and querying solar analysis data to identify suitable locations. 

3. EveryDropLA

Encouraging water conservation, the app allows users to identify and report water waste directly, view instances of water waste around them, receive alerts to conserve when essential, educate themselves on water conservation, and engage the water community through social media. 

4. Coastal Resilience 2.0

Providing tools to reduce ecological and socio-economic risks of coastal hazards, the app enables users to assess risks and vulnerability to coastal hazards including current and future storms as well as sea level rise scenarios, identify solutions to reduce risks across social-ecological systems, take action to help communities develop nature-base solutions, and measure effectiveness to ensure efforts are successful. 

5. Flood Forecast

When users register their address, they receive push alerts notifying them when that address is in danger of flooding. The app analyzes NOAA flood advisories, identifies specific properties affected by floods, consumes forecast.io to provide accurate weather reports based on user’s location, and sends flood alerts via Twilio and location of nearest Disaster Assistance Center. Every Drop LA

6. Save the Rain

Users are able to make smarter choices and save water when it is available. The next time it rains, users can capture rain that lands on their homes and use it again for watering plants, trees and lawns, wash cars, and even flush toilets. 

7. Global Forest Watch Commodities

The app provides three tools for businesses interested in good forest management: Suitability Mapper, which enables businesses to identify degraded areas best suited for commodity development as an alternative to clearing new forest areas; Forest Analyzer, which provides information on land cover and land use to monitor and evaluate change to forests on commodity concessions; and RSPO Support tool, which producers can complete for an analysis of forest change on certified areas. 

8. Community Resilience Inference Measurement

Measuring resilience to climate-related hazards in the county level for the United States, the app allows users to directly calculate the resilience index of places they choose and view the weights of the socioeconomic factors contributing to those scores. The app also provides factors that increase or decrease the resilience. 

9. CommunityViz Web App

Providing users the ability to open new opportunities for education, citizen engagement and policy change, the app enables users to quickly share their analysis results, such as energy and greenhouse gas generation and possible energy futures, with their ArcGIS Online Organization, selected Groups, or the general public. Global Forest Watch Commodities

10. Urban Heat Risk Explorer

Helping cities prepare for, respond to and recover from extreme heat events, the app provides users with a better understanding of heat risks in cities and communicates with users on ways they can protect themselves during extreme heat events. 

11. Unity

Uniting entities that create the data needed to provide rich visualizations and insights into commuter habits globally, Unity enables unlimited public and private networks within a region to create behavioral changes and eliminate traffic by allowing users to sync data to Esri ArcGIS for modal analysis. Users can also explore how each mode contributes to greenhouse emissions and climate change. 

12. Culvert Inventory for Climate Resilience

Designed to meet the challenge of limited information on culverts throughout the transportation network, the app provides a user-friendly culvert inventory template, online video instructions and citizen scientists to help transportation management agencies expand the knowledge of the culverts in their network. 

13. Local Food Alternatives in Washington County, Ore.

The app provides information on the availability of local and seasonal produce from nearby farms, markets and vendors to empower consumers to reduce their carbon footprint and support their local community.