Blog / May 5, 2020
As our planet’s biodiversity is increasingly threatened, it is more important than ever to have a sustained and integrated way to assess biodiversity and enable informed decision-making in global conservation efforts.
Compelled by the role technology can play in this effort, Microsoft has announced they are building a Planetary Computer that will provide access to the world’s critical environmental datasets, and a computing platform to analyse those datasets on.
As one part of this initiative, Microsoft’s AI for Earth program and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) Secretariat are launching a new US$1 million grant program. Grants of US$500k in financial funding and US$500k in Microsoft Azure credits, will support projects that strengthen efforts to monitor Earth’s biodiversity and create Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and relevant biodiversity change indicators derived from the EBVs. We will consider projects that develop novel approaches to monitoring of biodiversity as well as projects that leverage cloud-scale computation to increase the geographical and temporal coverage of existing monitoring programs.
Each grant recipient will receive:
Please refer to this template for more detailed application instructions. Email completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “EBVs on the cloud application”. Each Principal Investigator can submit one application for consideration.
Projects will be selected by a panel of judges identified by the GEO BON Secretariat and Microsoft AI for Earth. Criteria for selection will include:
To kick off their projects, grant recipients will be invited to attend the GEO BON Open Science Conference 2020. Grantees are encouraged to continue to be active in the GEO BON and GEO communities and present their results at the GEO BON All Hands meetings, workshops and other GEO BON and GEO events. Grantees can also be invited to participate in Microsoft events and presentations as appropriate.
Grantees will deliver a mid-year report, and a final report one year from the starting date of the project. They will continue to have access to their sponsored Azure accounts for two additional years to scale their datasets, data products, and tools more broadly.
Grantees will retain all intellectual property for the products developed over the course of the project. The project outputs, whether datasets, software, algorithms or other, must be made publicly and freely available following the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles. When applicable, products should be also made available through the EBV Data Portal and Bon in a Box following the GEO BON conventions.
Project development, execution, and results will be monitored by the GEO BON Secretariat, in collaboration with Microsoft.
Grantees will sign a contract with GEO for the disbursement of the project money and are responsible for allocating and justifying expenses following the budget of the approved project.
More about Azure
Microsoft Azure is a complete cloud platform with an ever-expanding set of services and storage. It allows users to build, manage, an deploy applications on a massive global network while using familiar tools and frameworks.
Azure functionality that may be particularly useful for biodiversity researchers include:
More about the Group on Earth Observations
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is an intergovernmental working to improve the availability, access and use of open Earth observations to impact policy and decision making. GEO connects government institutions, academic and research institutions, non-governmental and civil society organisations and the commercial sector working together on Earth observations. This unprecedented global collaboration of experts helps identify gaps and reduce duplication in the areas of sustainable development and sound environmental management based on open and shared Earth observations data and knowledge.
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