In South Asia, a region recognized as the epicenter for climate change and home to nearly two billion people, policymakers often lack the detailed data to understand how climate changes impact communities and livelihoods on a regional scale. This is despite the availability of global models that predict sea level rises, temperature shifts, and changes in rainfall patterns. While novel data streams, such as human mobility data, satellite imagery, electronic health records, and population health databases show promise, they also introduce significant privacy and methodological concerns. Additionally, there’s a prevailing gap in the local capacity to readily integrate this data into decision-making.
While the procurement of data can pose challenges, especially in areas with limited resources and infrastructure, the growing accessibility of data and analytic tools assists in crafting enhanced policies bolstering climate action. The integration of these tools and data sources has streamlined decision-making processes by embedding solid evidence, enabling even resource-constrained entities to capitalize on this public data through new tools tailored for policymakers and researchers.
Recognizing these complexities, CrisisReady and the Lakshmi Mittal Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University initiated Climateverse, which aims to leverage the existing yet siloed climate data in South Asia. Climateverse offers processed, organized, and easy-to-use data for researchers and policymakers to simplify the data discovery process, making it more relevant and guiding users on its proper utilization.
Building a Data Ecosystem to Enhancing Regional Decision-Making
Climateverse aims to address challenges in data procurement, processing, and analysis, aiming to build a regional data ecosystem essential for evidence-based policy-making. By incorporating diverse data types, this ecosystem provides an all-encompassing view of regional issues, enhancing the decision-making process.
The project draws on the extensive research conducted by the CrisisReady team at Harvard University. Our team has studied the complexities of data collection, processing, and utilization, particularly in South Asia. We have also explored aspects such as data accessibility, reliability, and accuracy to devise a framework that facilitates data gathering and processing.
Using this framework as a foundation, Climateverse intends to apply these findings to enhance data collection methods, reduce inconsistencies, and increase data applicability.
Climateverse will offer users a uniform way of organizing public datasets and show examples of the best ways to share data while also acknowledging potential risks. The system also provides guidance on how data creators can make their data easier to use and understand. This includes explaining the right context for their work and offering simple ways to interact with the data. We hope these suggestions, along with the growing collection of data in Climateverse, will spark broader conversations on how to improve the use and handling of climate data.
Undertake a comprehensive qualitative review of climate-related data challenges, opportunities and gaps in India through interviews with key stakeholders across government, academia, and the private sector that either have access to the data, the capacity to gather and conduct research on these data or will productively use the data.
Create a comprehensive index of international and domestic datasets required for research and policy making in India (and Bangladesh) to assess risk and vulnerability. For each dataset, we will ascertain data provenance, accessibility, reliability, transportability, security, and interoperability. We will also identify the ethical, regulatory and technical barriers to accessing these datasets, and making them more readily available.
Build a searchable repository of curated datasets accessed through a user-friendly interface that will combine Large Language Models (LLM) and Generative AI to allow users to identify datasets needed to answer their research or policy questions. Responses will be sought by combining an LLM’s general knowledge of the world with the curated Climateverse Repository where data are tagged with the attributes described above.
Through demonstrations of existing use-cases on the application of novel data streams in disaster response, clinical medicine, infectious disease modeling and population movement, we will work with policy makers and researchers to develop new prototypes using Climateverse for addressing questions related to climate adaptation.
Training on Digital Public Goods
We will conduct training programs in partnership with local academic organizations focused on Climateverse data management, application of differential privacy, and accessing these data. This will include informational sessions for technology companies to encourage open access to anonymized data in keeping with India’s promotion of “Digital Public Goods”.