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ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHALLENGES

Elie Tabchouri

Google Cloud in deal for Saudi Earth observation program

RIYADH, September 14, 2022

Google Cloud has announced a collaboration with the Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) and Climate Engine to launch the Earth Observation and Science Program. 
 
The program will help address environmental, water and agricultural challenges resulting from climate change, and paves the way for SDAIA and MEWA to lead climate action using artificial intelligence, said a statement.
 
The Saudi government has placed environmental protection as one of the strategic components under its Vision 2030. Agriculture is also one of the key drivers shaping the Kingdom’s economic landscape. In addition to the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives that aim to improve quality of life and protect future generations, it said.
 
Accordingly, SDAIA, MEWA and Google Cloud established the Earth Observation & Science Program, which relies on earth observation technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide sustainability solutions that will address climate change risks, and enhance the protection of the environment in the Kingdom and the region.
 
The program focuses on five key areas to create a more sustainable environment, and will address these areas in phases: environment preservation, pollution monitoring, sustainable agriculture, climate and nature protection, water & food security. In the first phase of the program, scientists from SDAIA and MEWA are relying on the earth observation data and climate insights provided through Google Earth Engine to help measure the impact of water on vegetation and agriculture at field, country and regional levels.
 
Google Cloud to train Earth and data scientists 
SDAIA and MEWA, in collaboration with Google Cloud and Climate Engine, will launch the first sustainability research centre in the Kingdom and the Middle East. 
 
The centre will use AI technologies to develop impactful use cases and knowledge transfer through a series of trainings and workshops. Google Cloud and Climate Engine are developing a platform for the centre with user interfaces that will showcase former environmental case studies in water and agriculture, and will enable scientists from SDAIA and MEWA to develop more use cases utilising data sets and AI tools via the platform.
 
The centre will also use AI technologies and solutions such as Google Climate Insights for Natural Resources, which leverages the scale and power of Google Earth Engine and Climate Engine, to study the long term impact of current agricultural practices on natural resources and water and food security. 
 
Google Cloud will lead efforts at the centre to train scientists to apply technology from AI, Climate Engine and Google Earth Engine to drive sustainable initiatives.
 
Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng Mansour Almushaiti expressed his pleasure to partner with SDAIA & Google Cloud to deliver high-performance services. This will support the implementation of the digital transformation strategy, environmental initiatives and the ministry’s strategy to leverage artificial intelligence in all sectors, including services and initiatives to achieve sustainable development goals in Saudi Arabia.
 
Dr Abdullah Bin Sharaf Al Ghamdi, President of SDAIA, said: “We are launching the Earth observation program as part of the AI Center for Environment, Water & Agriculture that will be led by the National Center for AI (NCAI) and MEWA.  The program will propel climate change action in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond, with insights based on latest advancements in data and machine learning. Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is becoming the place where the best of data-driven innovation and AI is made possible. We partnered with Google Cloud as the trusted technology partner for the program, due to its most innovative and cutting edge technologies that leverage AI”.
 
“We are at a time where sustainability and climate action are at the top of many governments’ agendas,” said Elie Tabchouri, Head of Public Sector, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Google Cloud. “The scientific research around climate change is highly data-intensive and increasingly cloud-based. Google Cloud’s sustainability solutions can help governments better understand climate risk, reporting and help communicate environmental impact authentically.  We are optimistic that our collaboration with SDAIA will encourage more organizations to leverage technology in their climate action roadmap.”
 
Sustainability decisions powered by data & AI
The Earth Observation & Science Program leverages Google Earth Engine, a planetary scale platform for earth science data and analysis, and will support NCAI and MEWA in assessing climate-related risks and increasing climate resilience by applying technology to key climate challenges in the Kingdom.
 
Access to this type of data will help facilitate identifying the current impact of water on agriculture productivity, drought monitoring, water usage, soil moisture, evaporation and precipitation in the Kingdom. 
 
NCAI and MEWA will leverage these insights to showcase to planners and policy makers the current environmental status in the Kingdom, highlighting historical trends and potential risks on the climate and the economy. - TradeArabia News Service



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