Helping to Save the Great Barrier Reef with Cloud Computing

| Josh Henretig

clip_image002We are privileged to have Frank McCosker, Microsoft’s General Manager of International Organizations, join us on the Software Enabled Earth blog to share news of an exciting partnership between Microsoft and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Frank is responsible for Microsoft’s collaboration with over 40 international organizations; he is an expert in public-private partnerships and applying technology for social and economic development. – Josh Henretig

Helping to Save the Great Barrier Reef with Cloud Computing

Frank McCosker, 14 November 2012

clip_image004​My heart lies in Australia. It is a country of immense natural beauty and a place which I feel greatly connected to. My family have farmed there and lived close to the land for several generations and it is somewhere that I hope my children can similarly discover and enjoy in their lifetimes.

Without question one of the most awesome physical wonders of Australia is the Great Barrier Reef.UNESCO states that “as the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is a globally outstanding and significant entity. Practically the entire ecosystem was inscribed as World Heritage in 1981, covering an area of 348,000 square kilometres”. Saving this fragile system is not just a priority for Australians, but for all those who cherish one of the most diverse marine habitats on the planet.

I am excited to share that today in Townsville, Queensland, Microsoft is taking a step in this direction by joining the eReefs project. This is a collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its corporate partner BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance; Australia’s leading operational and research agencies in the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science; the Australian and Queensland Governments as well as the Science and Industry Endowment Fund and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. With Microsoft in Townsville was Tony Burke, the Australian Government’s Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, who has made the preservation of the reef a matter of urgency for our government.

The eReefs Project uses the latest technologies and data gathered from many sources across the entire reef, river catchments and the surrounding ocean to create a digital model of the reef. This will allow environmental stakeholders and the general public to better understand the reef and how it is affected by weather, industry and climate change.

clip_image006Building upon our experience with the European Environment Agency and the development of applications to monitor air, water and noise quality in Europe, we will help develop ‘’eReefScope’’ a platform for collaboration, analysis and visualization for citizen science.

One of “eReefScope’s main goals is to provide the citizen science groups and communities dedicated to preserving the Great Barrier Reef with the software and services that will enhance their activities. Each of these groups has been collecting data from the reef and its surrounds for many years, with their interests as varied as the reef itself – from mangrove growth, to coral outcrops to fish populations and more.

eReefScope will include multiple data layers for gathering, analysing and visualizing the many areas of impact on the Great Barrier Reef. Additionally, eReefScope will include SharePoint functionality so that the many communities that look after the reef can collaborate across groups. The solution will be easily accessible from almost anywhere, capable of receiving data inputs via different groups and communities.

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