To solve “wicked problems” like deforestation and persistent poverty, we not only need better data but also better indicators to identify problems and patterns in real time. Planet Inc., a geospatial organization that has deployed the largest constellation of Earth-observing satellites in history, is leading the way—using data insights to help solve these complex global problems.
At our 2018 Data on Purpose conference, Andrew Zolli, Planet’s vice president of global impact initiatives, discusses what he sees as the coming age of “big indicators.” Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, computer vision, crowdsourcing, and other related analytical approaches are converging, allowing us to detect patterns in data that would elude even the most sophisticated human analysis—collectively, these tools are known as big indicators.
We have the tools to help us monitor the health of our planet instantaneously, and we are on the cutting edge of being able to predict crises like flood or famine thanks to big indicators, Zolli says. He argues that the next step is to restructure data-collection funding to create instruments that will allow us to intervene in extremely precise ways.