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Around-the-web finds

World Bank opens largest set of development data --for free and in several languages

Claudia Gabarain's picture

Big news: the World Bank has launched an open data site with more than 2,000 financial, business, health, economic and human development statistics. Until now, most of this had been available only to paying subscribers. Not only that, but the site and indicators are also available in French, Spanish, and Arabic --with 330 indicators initially, but set to grow.

Largest ever World Bank loan to Vietnam signals country's swift path to middle-income status

James I Davison's picture

Last month, Vietnam and the World Bank signed the credit agreement for a loan that is historic for the rapidly developing country.

Yet-to-be-released online mapping tool could make monitoring deforestation easy as Google

James I Davison's picture

We’ve written before about a climate-related effort in developing countries known as REDD – or Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation. So one of the outcomes during last month’s U.N. climate conference that I found particularly interesting was an announcement from Google.org. During the conference in Copenhagen, the search giant's philanthropic arm introduced the prototype for an online application that will allow monitoring of forests around the planet.

Apparently, some believed that the overall topic of REDD may have been one of the few bright spots during the two-week conference. To me, it seems like this forthcoming online monitoring tool is no exception – particularly because Google products are often innovative, easy to use and reliable.

The announcement generated quite bit of media buzz, and Google.org’s press release has a nice explanation of why the online application, likely available to the public some time this year, might be so significant:

Traditional forest monitoring is complex and expensive, requiring access to large amounts of satellite data, lots of hard drives to hold the data, lots of computers to process the data, and lots of time while you wait for various computations to finish. … Google supplies data, storage, and computing muscle. As a result, you can visualize forest change in fractions of a second over the web, instead of the minutes or hours that traditional offline systems require for such analysis.

 

What does a video about a desert region of China have to do with Niger?

Tony Whitten's picture

A YouTube map that shows where people are when they view the videos. That the video might be of interest to a dry country like Niger – where herding of goats and other livestock is so important – is not so surprising.

A colleague of mine recently sent a link to a group of us showing some photos taken in Inner Mongolia, China, showing the land degradation being suffered there and its impacts.  One of the photos (#16) shows a twisted and broken tree trunk surrounded by sand on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The caption says that the trees were “killed by the moving sands.” I have a different take on it.

The picture shows what is probably a Euphrates Poplar, and I would suggest that the trees were probably killed by its surface roots becoming roasted after herds of goats and other livestock ate the trees' fallen leaves. These leaves would normally act as a natural insulation layer and mulch, and over time quite a number of plants grow in the shade and protection.  With the trees steadily roasted, so the whole area degrades and the sand blows in.  You can see one of the World Bank’s senior agriculturalists, Rick Chisholm, explaining this in the first of my two YouTube videos on Lake Aibi in northwest, Xinjiang, China.  (Go straight to 8m 30s on the time line to see the specific segment).

Poll: Average citizens in China, Vietnam, Indonesia favor action on climate change, even if there are costs

James I Davison's picture

A few days before the start of the U.N. climate conference this week in Copenhagen, the results of an interesting – and very relevant – poll were released by the World Bank. While world leaders and other high-level representatives from more than 190 countries negotiate during the two-week conference (Dec. 7-18), this multi-country survey attempts to give a voice to average people in the developing world.

Vote for climate change story to be presented during Copenhagen conference

James I Davison's picture

In a few hours, world leaders and representatives from up to 192 countries will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the highly anticipated United Nations Climate Change Conference, which starts on Monday and lasts for two weeks.

China leads rapid growth of online audiences in Asia

James I Davison's picture

The online population in Asian and Pacific countries grew by 22 percent last year. China led the growth with an incredible 31 percent increase – to 220 million – in total unique Web visitors. These latest numbers of the region’s explosive Internet growth are according to a report, released last month by Internet researcher comScore, measuring online audiences in the region and individual countries between September 2008 and 2009.

The report indicates that Internet audiences in Japan, India and South Korea also saw double-digit growth and that the Asia-Pacific region now has 41 percent – or 441 million people – of the global Internet audience. It’s interesting to see how quickly things have changed since the last time we wrote about an earlier report from comScore.

If you want to examine more of the report’s findings you can see the related press release, or download a presentation on the subject here. (Note: To download the slides, you have to provide them with your name and some contact info.)

I’ve pointed before to World Bank evidence that shows the Internet may lead to improved economic growth, job creation and good governance. What else do you think such increased connectivity could mean for development in the region?

Random Hacks of Kindness: software developers create and share code to tackle disaster relief

Claudia Gabarain's picture

A bunch of software programmers get together, listen to a list of desired projects formulated by aid, emergency, and development experts that would help tackle issues related to disaster relief, work for two days and the result is eleven applications that will allow users to easily report their status in the event of a disaster, locate family, provide data needed by emergency responders, or that will automatically process aerial images taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehic

Information about NT2 hydropower project in Laos: A Library of Babel? It depends on your point of view

Victoria Minoian's picture

In “The Library of Babel,” Borges talks about the infinite nature of information and knowledge, because of its endless combinations.


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