The Earth Observation (EO) Dashboard Hackathon encouraged participants to use data observed from international space satellites to help us better document, analyze, and visualize Earth-changing shifts.
COVID-19 upended our lives and our communities. Equally concerning, it has also led to critical changes in environmental, human, and economic activity that affect our planet. These changes are so significant that NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in coordination with SecondMuse, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Mindgrub, ran a program to gather some of the most active and intelligent minds in the world of hacking to make better sense of the pandemic’s impacts.
The Earth Observation (EO) Dashboard Hackathon encouraged participants to use data observed from international space satellites to help us better document, analyze, and visualize these Earth-changing shifts.
The Earth Observation Dashboard is a collaborative effort of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The dashboard collects data from the space agencies’ various satellites to capture global changes in air quality, water quality, climate change, economic activity, agricultural production, and other indicators during the COVID-19 pandemic. After releasing an initial version of the dashboard to the public in June 2020, the space agencies turned to the global community of innovators.
An all-virtual event held June 23-29, 2021, the EO Dashboard Hackathon brought together more than 4,000 coders, scientists, entrepreneurs, designers, and other participants from around the world.
The participants used data from the EO Dashboard itself to explain global changes happening as a result of the pandemic. The winning teams would have the opportunity to integrate their solutions into the dashboard.
“The EO Dashboard Hackathon was created because of the success of the NASA COVID-19 Challenge and the space agency’s recognition that this global hackathon model generates innovative solutions to complex problems. It was a no-brainer to run a similar type of hackathon that reflects what is happening in the world and is important to our global community,” explains SecondMuse Senior Program Manager Marie Mimiaga.
USING OPEN-SOURCE SPACE DATA
Two teams, Tracer and CleverChart, both won the hackathon’s Open Science award. This award goes to the solution that best demonstrates open science principles – like transparency, inclusion, accessibility, and reproducibility. Tracer’s solution is to track global shipping activity and its associated nitrogen dioxide pollution. The tool demonstrates how COVID-19 and weather affect shipping patterns and air quality. It uses machine learning to forecast ship pollution along new routes.
CleverChart’s solution synthesizes data into interactive graphs that show how different factors – like rain, ocean surface temperature, and tourism – combine to affect water quality around the world. In addition, CleverChart was recognized with the ESA Esrin Data Award for utilizing ESA data most effectively to achieve the goals of their challenge.
- World MAQI – Winner of the Technology Award, their project combines Google data on human movement with space data on air quality. The team detected places where air quality did not decline to pre-pandemic levels even after human activity recovered – paving the way for designing solutions for a cleaner, greener world.
- Hackvengers – Winner of the Data Award, they analyze monthly changes in nightlights seen from satellites to understand how people in the Bay Area of California relocated to new areas after COVID-19 and widespread work-from-home mandates.
- Alliance for Action – The Outreach Award winner visualizes the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities in Los Angeles to highlight environmental injustices exacerbated by the pandemic.
- Wings of the West – A birdwatching app that lets users record sightings of endangered birds on the West Coast of the U.S. is the winner of the Insight Award.
- The Developers – A website that explains how COVID-19 affected agriculture generally and rice cultivation in particular won the Jaxa Alos-2 Data Award.
The success of the EO Dashboard Hackathon is yet another testament to how powerful is our collective knowledge in solving complex challenges. Stay tuned for next year’s iteration of the hackathon and learn more about all the submitted projects at the EO Dashboard Hackathon website.