UN Global Pulse, Western Digital call for application on Data for Climate Action Challenge

Global Pulse, the United Nations innovation initiative on big data, and NASDAQ-listed Western Digital Corporation have announced a partnership to launch the Data for Climate Action challenge.

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BENGALURU: Global Pulse, the United Nations innovation initiative on big data, and NASDAQ-listed Western Digital Corporation have announced a partnership to launch the Data for Climate Action challenge. Data for Climate Action is an open innovation challenge to harness data science and big data from the private sector to fight climate change.


Data scientists, researchers, and innovators from around the world are encouraged to apply and submit their proposals at by April 10, 2017.

“Driving effective action on climate change requires not only climate data, but also rich information about human behaviour,” said Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse. “Big data can provide dynamic feedback on how communities affect and are affected by the climate system, and enable innovation to increase sustainability and resilience. This data is primarily held by companies, like those participating in Data for Climate Action.”

With support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund, this global challenge has galvanized a diverse coalition of companies from multiple industries and countries to participate through acts of ‘data philanthropy’.


The challenge will offer researchers an opportunity to gain unprecedented access to national, regional, and global datasets—anonymized and aggregated to protect privacy—and robust tools to support their research.

Companies contributing data for the challenge include:

  • BBVA Data & Analytics, a financial data analytics company
  • Crimson Hexagon, an enterprise social media analytics company
  • Earth Networks, a weather and lightning sensor network operator
  •  Nielsen, a global measurement and analytics company
  • Orange, a global telecommunications provider
  • Planet, an earth-imaging satellite network operator
  • Plume Labs, an environmental data sciences company
  • Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation
  • Waze, a free, real-time community-based traffic and navigation app

In addition, researchers may apply to receive cloud-computing support from Microsoft, and visual analytics support from Tableau.

“As the world’s largest data storage company, we understand the power and promise of data, and are passionate about its use as a catalyst for change,” said Dave Tang, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Data Center Systems Business Unit, Western Digital. “We are proud to partner with the United Nations Global Pulse team to not only help build the narrative and framework for the Data for Climate Action challenge, but to amplify and drive engagement around the data for social good movement. We look forward to the insights and solutions generated from this challenge and the possibilities they represent for our future.”

Data for Climate Action will target three areas relevant to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal on climate action (SDG 13): climate mitigation, climate adaptation, and the linkages between climate change and the broader 2030 Agenda.


The challenge aims to generate original research papers and tools that demonstrate how data-driven innovation can inform on-the-ground solutions and transform efforts to fight climate change. It builds upon the model of data science competitions pioneered by organizations like Kaggle, and company-specific initiatives to share big data for the public good, such as the “Data for Development” challenges hosted by Orange.

Researchers who are selected to participate in Data for Climate Action will have four months to conduct their research. A diverse panel of experts in climate change and data science will evaluate final submissions based on their methodology, relevance, and potential impact. Winners will be announced in November of 2017. To submit an application or find additional details on the challenge, visit the official website at

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