IUCN and Microsoft map threats to biodiversity

“We’re building an application that allows people to map those threats spatially,” Joppa explains. “We’re trying to provide a repository of evidence for threats to species.”

Lucas Joppa is talking about a collaboration between Microsoft and IUCN to map threats to biodiversity. Worth keeping an eye on. But I wonder if they’ll consider agrobiodiversity too. If so, we have some ideas here at the blog. Anyway, presumably the thing will link up with GeoCAT in some clever way.

LATER: And also link to this? Or at least suck in the data?

6 Replies to “IUCN and Microsoft map threats to biodiversity”

  1. GRIN catalogues natural stands of threatened species (e.g. Echinacea and orchids) but intentionally obscures or hides passport GIS details to prevent hobbyist, or commercial exploitation of national stands.

  2. Joppa’s pitch teaches us several things about this rather sizable collaboration between the IUCN and Microsoft Research, most importantly that IUCN found in Microsoft a corporate partner big enough (indeed) to provide the servers and software-building capability required by the management and analysis of Red List data.

    While waiting for more information to better understand this unprecedented relationship, questions arise:
    What and where are Microsoft’s GIS/spatial analysis know-how and capacity? No doubt its Computational Ecology and Environmental Science team could create an excellent geo-analysis tool in no time, but should we expect another, MS-proprietary geo-file standard? Probably not-so-proprietary, since Microsoft and ESRI are long-time partners, and certainly that partnership had something to do with the MS-IUCN collaboration. This then gives some sense to the new partnership. Most certainly a greater part of the SSC experts use ESRI software, so why not deal with ESRI directly and its arcgis.com platform? One reason could be that the ‘Red List’ is bigger than ESRI, so big so that only a corporation like MS could handle the data and queries.

    If so, I am curious about the process here: experts use ESRI software to collect field data (where are MS’s products here? Win Phone 8? Maybe Excel…), and conduct their analysis with existing GIS software producing shapefiles. And then what happens? The data and files are sent to the future MS platform for what purpose exactly? The analysis is done and threats are identified by the different SSC before MS compiles them, ain’t it? It appears MS powerful server/software infrastructure would be used to do the meta/aggregate analysis of threats, joining, superimposing and clipping 1000s (100000s?) of geo-files to produce true landscape-scale threat analysis covering the entire globe and all red-listed species. Neverthless, how would this infrastructure serve the collection and analysis of data by individual SSC experts. Will they have to use new software to ease the upload of data to the new platform? How dependant will they be on the platform when in the field? And, MS not being open-source, how will that impact the field experts’ work in terms of compatibility, costs and software evolution/adaptation? Should we fear slow software adaptation and top-down guided, hermetic evolution? Also am wondering if this is going to become just another visualisation tool for the greater public, like EYEonEARTH.org. Curious to see how things develop. Thanks for the hint.
    A note: Bing Maps is available through ESRI ArcGIS as documented here: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgis-online-map-and-geoservices/bing-maps.

    1. As soon as you want to do something interesting, it asks for a password, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to get one. And why have all that information about crops which has absolutely nothing to do with the map? Not particularly impressive.

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