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WbPanorama: Time Travel To Help Adapt To Climate Change

June 25, 2012


Ernesto Giron, Colombian finalist of Apps for Climate.

  • The Apps for Climate Competition aims to create innovative apps using World Bank data.
  • Ernesto Giron, from Colombia, is one of the three finalists from Latin America.
  • His app "wbpanorama" allows to see past, present and future climate change data through an interactive map.

How would you like to travel in time? See what happened 100 years ago and take a sneak peek of what the world will look like in 50 years?

The app that Ernesto Giron, a 40-year old topographic engineer, developed for the Apps for Climate contest of the World Bank, and that is now among the 14 finalists, allows to do just that – surf time and climate change data through an interactive map.

It visualizes with different colors on the world map how temperature and rainfalls change with time, and it also allows you to see what city in the tropical part of the world will have the same climate and environment than another in the future - when you click on a town, bridge-like connections point to other cities.

“The objective is that we can bring technology or adapt ourselves, with the knowledge that other cities already have, with the same climate, that are practically already adapted,” he says.

 A third component shows you where crops of maize, beans or rice for example are located in the world. The idea is that this information, combined with climate data, can help to see the adaptability of the crops of a certain area to future climate change.

He says it is just one example of what could be done with the database that is already available from the World Bank and other sources.

Predicting the future for better decision-making

A consultant in the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, Ernesto Giron heard from the Climate App competition from colleagues who had gone to the international climate conference in Durban and brought back the tip.

He says he has been creating apps for about 15 years, not only online, and has always been interested in programming.

Climate change is an important issue for him, in part because the phenomenon affects the area he is working on – agriculture. He has learnt about the effect of climate change when it comes to food security for example.

“In my country, we have had too many floods,” he says. So having information available online easily can help to adapt or at least be aware beforehand of what might happen or of what has happened, he adds.

The app is named “wbpanorama” because Ernesto Giron wanted to give the user an overview of what is happening in climate change on a global level as well as through time, so that the person can make more informed decisions.

“Climate change is something that affects a lot of population. Many things are said, some are true, others are speculations, and a lot more studies have to be done on that topic,” he says.