World Bank Launches “Apps for Climate” Competition

December 2, 2011

New Bank climate change data book also released in margins of Durban conference

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, December 2, 2011 – Software developers and development practitioners are being brought together by an “Apps for Climate” competition launched today by the World Bank.
The competition, launched at the Durban climate conference, is asking entrants to use open data to create innovative software applications that can help solve some of the development problems that climate change poses.
“The competition aims to discover new and extraordinary ways to use open climate data,”
said Andrew Steer, World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change.  “We hope to unleash the creative energy out there which will make “apps” that help create solutions to weather-related disasters, risks for agriculture, food and water supplies, rising sea levels and other climate related challenges.”
“This latest challenge builds on our earlier “Apps for Development” competition which also drew some very creative ideas related to adaptation,”
Steer continued.  “One called “save the rain”,” calculates how much rainwater you could save based on your geographic location and the surface area of your roof!  We’re hoping for similar ‘out of the box’ ideas this time around, too.”
The “apps” for this latest competition can be created for the web, for mobile devices, for sms, for a desktop, or a tablet. The competition includes cash prizes to the winning entries. Apps must be submitted by March 16, 2012.

At the launch of the competition today, Steer also released the latest edition to the World Bank’s Little Data Book series, The Little Data Book on Climate Change.

This pocket size book provides summary national, international and regional data that cover the gamut of climate-relevant topics, including current and projected climate conditions, exposure to climate impacts, resilience, greenhouse gas emissions, climate finance, and current national and international efforts to take action.
The book is available in print or online via PDF.  A free companion “app” allows users to browse the climate data collection on iPhones and iPads.
The data book and Apps competition are the latest offerings from the Bank’s new Open Data Initiative on Climate Change. 

The initiative will provide easy access to a first batch of high-quality data sets and analysis.  In the coming months, as the Initiative develops, more data and other critical climate information will be rolled out.
The materials will be open, free, and accessible to all via a Climate Change Knowledge Portal. The Portal is a core component of the Bank’s new climate initiative and will also provide access to rainfall and temperature information.
For those confronted with the challenge of adapting to climate change, the portal aims to be a powerful tool to visualize in the medium and long term how changing patterns of rainfall and temperature can affect vulnerable countries and communities.
“Governments need access to climate data to make the best use of their water resources and also to plan for the extreme floods, cyclones and droughts that afflict our country on a regular basis,” said Ana Chichava, Mozambique’s deputy environment minister who joined Steer at the launch of the competition and data book in Durban today.
“Local people also need access to this data - and in forms that they can use, so they can make the right choices over when to plant, when to harvest and when it is safe to go to sea to fish,” she said.  "We strongly support efforts to make climate data open and accessible for public use.”
Also present at the launch today, Stephen Zebiak, Director-General of International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Earth Institute, Columbia University, recognized the Bank as a critical facilitator on the issue of access to climate data, use and delivery.
Zebiak, who is leading the Climate Services Partnership, noted “These recent steps by the World Bank on the data initiative are absolutely in the right direction and will unleash the tremendous power of climate and other data and information towards realization of innovative climate solutions.”

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