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Using the cloud to better understand our environment
The earth is pretty big. Learning about what’s going on around the globe is often a function of being able to crunch an incredible amount of data and understand millions of images. Understanding this type of data at scale is an excellent use for cloud computing.

The Google Earth Engine and Google Cloud teams came together to map the land cover in each 30-meter square of the earth, going back to 2013. The combination of Google Earth Engine with App Engine, Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Dataflow, TensorFlow, Kubeflow and ML Engine form an end-to-end pipeline that creates value out of raw data. This data pipeline turns pixels into rich map information, with machine learning allowing this to be done over time. Taking a time-series look at the earth’s land cover can help track and understand things like urbanization, deforestation, water resource changes and cropland views. In a Cloud Next session, Nicholas Clinton, David Cavazos and Christopher Brown from Google explained the process in detail to answer the question, What is on Earth?

Insights about our environment can help us make better decisions about management, urban planning and climate targets. To help deliver those insights to decision makers, Google recently launched the Environmental Insights Explorer, built using GCP, to analyze Google Maps data and provide rich insights into the vital signs of our planet. Cities are using these insights to create carbon baselines and accelerate climate action plans. Hear all about it from Saleem Van Groenou and Denise Pearl in Global City Climate Action Analysis with Geo Data.

Investing in ideas that go round and round
At Google Cloud, we believe that with the help of modern technology, business can be a positive catalyst for change. That’s why we’ve partnered with SAP to host a sustainability contest for social entrepreneurs called Circular Economy 2030. We invited thought leaders from around the world to submit a revenue-generating idea that uses Google Cloud and SAP technology to advance a circular economy—a holistic system that designs out waste and pollution, keeps products in use, and regenerates natural resources.

In collaboration with UN Environment, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, we selected a total of five finalists from a pool of 250+ applications from 50+ countries around the world. Each of the finalists excelled across the four assessment criteria of original idea, business model, potential impact, and technical innovation, and demonstrated their passion for sustainability. Whether working to track industrial waste flows for increased accountability or addressing rural food waste with solar-powered cold storage, the Circular Economy 2030 finalists are all advancing a better, more equitable, and more sustainable future.

To learn more about the Circular Economy 2030 contest and the five finalists, check out the panel session from Google Cloud Next where we announced the winners and discussed how to use cloud computing for a sustainable future.

Advances in technology are helping drive advances in sustainability and creative ideas to improve our global environment. We’re looking forward to seeing continued innovation around the world.

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