Geo for Good User Summit 2017

IFPRI's Zhe Guo participated the 2017 Google Geo for Good User Summit in Sunnyvale, California, in October 2017, and shares his reflections from the intensive workshop.

The 2017 Geo for Good User Summit was held at the Google Headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, from October 2-5, 2017, and I was lucky to participate the workshop.

The workshop gathered nonprofit mapping and technology specialists from all over the world. Although participants had different background and the occupations including faculties, technology advocates, curriculum specialists, technology advocates, librarians, administrators, professional trainers, and other education professionals, they all had one thing in common: all were committed to bring geo-literacy and using maps to address social or environmental issues — just like I do this in agriculture at CGIAR.

When you see a Googler standing on the table, the break time is over!

The workshop introduced all Google Geo products such as Earth, Engine, Maps, and Data Studio, along with ample hand-on experiences. Among all the products, the Google Earth Engine (GEE) was the most popular product to researchers, and I also spent most of my time on it. There are many highlights about GEE, but few noticeable points are:

  1. A large variety of datasets are already being made available through the platform. MODIS, LandSat, Sentinel 1/ 2/ 3 (coming soon), elevation, nightlights…
  1. Super-fast! With thousands of computers behind and distributed systems, the tasks are much easy to be completed if you are familiar with functions like map-reduce.
  1. Multiple language are supported. JavaScript and python are the two official languages. There are some level of R compatibility also.
  1. Enough essential functions provided already. Although not perfect, there are quite some functions are provided including Bayesian, Support Vector Machine, and Random Forest.
The four-day workshop was very intensive; program literally ran from dawn to dusk everyday!

Of course, there are still a lot of rooms for improvement — but I was impressed at all the achievements made in the past year compared to just few years ago. If you haven’t yet, don’t wait further – you’re missing out a lot! Get your hands dirty right now with just one click here: