USA - Climate data tools win NOAA challenge

The four winning teams developed digital tools designed to help local decision makers use federal data for better climate resilience planning.

Since the 1980s, multi-billion dollar climate disasters in the U.S. have quadrupled, prompting government agencies to ramp up the pace and scale of their responses. Local officials, though, have been challenged by finding federal data related to climate risks and data management tools to help them make data-driven decisions.

As part of the Open Data for Good Grand Challenge, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offered $50,00 to teams building new digital tools to help local decision makers use federal data for better climate resilience planning.

NOAA announced four winners:

MySidewalk’s Community Resilience Toolkits were awarded NOAA’s “Best All Around and Most Responsive to NOAA’s Challenge” award. The startup’s six toolkits allow users to assess local risks and resilience solutions for common community hazards, including extreme heat, sea level rise and coastal storms, inland flooding, wildfire, drought, and erosion and landslides.

The company’s platform allows users to download ready-to-use public and Census data from more than 40 sources, enabling them to merge the information into a unified database of answers. The data can be filtered through 16 level of geography, like city council districts or ZIP codes for more granular analysis, and population data can be segmented by age, sex and race.

Forerunner’s Floodplain Management Dashboard was given the “Best User Interface & User Experience” award. The startup’s dashboard uses the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Hazard Layer database and NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey imagery to notify local government floodplain managers of present risks, allowing them to monitor changes in their community.

The dashboard combines effective and preliminary flood insurance rate maps, parcel information and elevation data to give floodplain managers a more comprehensive view of risk in their communities.

Mayday’s centralized artificial intelligence tool,, was given the “Best Use of Federal Data” award. It uses federal open data sets to inform its adaptive risk intelligence technology. The company uses data from 300 satellites, 35,000 AI-enabled cameras, audio and social media sentiment analysis to conduct what it calls continuous awareness. The aggregated real-time information on disasters, allowing city managers to reduce the costs and effects of climate-related events.

NOAA’s “Best Tool for Equity & Inclusion” winner, R Story, was developed by a team of college students. The tool uses data from the Census, Environmental Protection Agency and a number of other agencies to improve sustainable rural economic development.

“NOAA’s partnership with the Census Bureau and Opportunity Project participants has created exciting new tools that can help communities across the country use data from NOAA and other federal agencies to prepare for climate impacts and build a better America,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said.

The Opportunity Project is an annual technical development sprint and competition hosted by the Census Bureau, and this is the first year that NOAA has participated.

President Biden signed an executive order today aimed at improving the federal government’s service delivery to Americans.

The White House said that the order will create a “sustained, cross-government service delivery process” aligned with specific life moments like retirement where Americans interact with government services.

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