‘Apps for Climate’ software challenge

5 December 2011

The World Bank’s “Apps for Climate” competition challenges software developers to use open data to create innovative software applications to help solve some of the developmental problems posed by climate change.

The competition was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban on Friday, and aims “to discover new and extraordinary ways to use open climate data,” said Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change.

“We hope to unleash the creative energy out there which will make apps that help create solutions to weather-related disasters, risks for agriculture, food and water supplies, rising sea levels and other climate-related challenges,” Steer said.

The latest challenge builds on the World Bank’s earlier “Apps for Development” competition, which drew some very creative ideas related to adaptation.

“One called ‘save the rain’ calculates how much rainwater you could save based on your geographic location and the surface area of your roof. We’re hoping for similar out-of-the-box ideas this time around too,” said Steer.

The “apps” for this latest competition can be created for the web, mobile devices, SMS, desktops or tablets.

The competition includes cash prizes for the winning entries. Apps must be submitted by 16 March 2012. For more info, go to www.worldbank.org/appsforclimate.

Little Data Book on Climate Change

Also on Friday, Steer released the latest edition of the World Bank’s Little Data Book series – a pocket-sized book provides summary national, international and regional data on climate-relevant topics.

Topics include current and projected climate conditions, exposure to climate impacts, resilience, greenhouse gas emissions, climate finance, and current national and international efforts to take action.

The initiative will provide easy access to a first batch of high-quality data sets and analysis. In the coming months, as the initiative develops, more data and other critical climate information will be rolled out.

The materials will be open, free, and accessible to all via a Climate Change Knowledge Portal, which is a core component of the World Bank’s new climate initiative and will also provide access to rainfall and temperature information.

For those confronted with the challenge of adapting to climate change, the portal aims to be a powerful tool to visualise in the medium and long term how changing patterns of rainfall and temperature can affect vulnerable countries and communities.

Making the right choices

Also speaking at Friday’s launch, Mozambican Deputy Environment Minister Ana Chichava said governments needed access to climate data to make the best use of their water resources and also to plan for the extreme floods, cyclones and droughts that afflict countries on a regular basis.

“Local people also need access to this data – and in forms that they can use, so they can make the right choices over when to plant, harvest and when it is safe to go to sea to fish. We strongly support efforts to make climate data open and accessible for public use.”

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews