FAO Investment Centre

Earth Map, a cost-effective tool for investment design

Source: FAO Earth Map derived from processing Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS v2) grids at 5-day temporal resolution.

FAO teamed up with Google to develop Earth Map, a free, easy-to-use tool that accesses and analyses geospatial data. It provides unprecedented access for visualizing and interacting with earth observation datasets and overcomes big data limitations for use in real-time monitoring and quick historical analyses.

The team behind Earth Map had developed Collect Earth earlier, an application that produces detailed statistics on land use, land use change and forests through a point sampling approach and readily available remote sensing data.

With Earth Map, they saw an opportunity to bridge this huge source of continuously updated data – including on temperatures, precipitation, fires, population, vegetation, water, elevation – with the numerous requests for environmental analyses of FAO projects.?

Featuring a simple interface with drop-down menus, users can run environmental and climate analyses in their areas of interest in a matter of seconds. Those without prior GIS or remote sensing experience, but with knowledge of the land to be analysed, can be trained quickly to produce images, tables and statistics describing the environmental and climatic context and history of an area.

A cost-effective tool, Earth Map can guide the design of investment projects. It can also assess the suitability of project activities and monitor their progress.

Earth Map was used to design GCF projects in Armenia, Georgia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, and The World Bank projects in Kazakhstan, Kosovo, the Philippines and Myanmar. The tool is also used to develop and support projects with the EBRD and the CDB.

The GCF granted the Kyrgyz Republic USD 50 million in 2019. The Kyrgyz Government had requested FAO’s assistance in producing empirical data via a climate risk mapping and vulnerability analysis. Using Earth Map, the FAO team was able to check on annual precipitation anomalies in the country since 1981, understanding where rainfall was decreasing and increasing. They could also track trends in vegetation changes, assess land productivity dynamics and pinpoint trouble spots and districts.

Earth Map is cloud-based, requiring very low bandwidth. It can be further customized to meet project requests and is a much faster and more efficient option over traditional data collection, analysis and reporting.

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