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eNewsletter November 2007

United Nations, Google and Cisco Partner to Monitor Progress on UN Millennium Development Goals

The United Nations announced on November 1, 2007, a new way to track real-time progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which include reducing poverty worldwide, via a partnership with Google Earth and Cicso. Presiding at this launch were UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviş, Google Chief Technologist for Google Earth and Maps Michael T. Jones, and Cisco Senior Vice President of Worldwide Service Provider Opportunities Carlos Dominguez.

The MDG Monitor is a web application that tracks real-time progress toward the Millennium Development Goals in a number of categories in nearly every country in the world. The MDG Monitor is intended as a tool for policymakers, development practitioners, journalists, students and others interested in learning about the Goals and tracking progress toward them. Data is needed to track progress, and this tool allows all data to be aggregated in one place.

The MDG Monitor will be continually updated as new data become available. Subsequent versions of the tool will also be available in multiple languages. The principal country-level data are currently available in Google Earth, accessible via the MDG Monitor home page of www.mdgmonitor.org.

The MDG Monitor has been created by the UN Development Programme in partnership with the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Relief Web of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Funding and in-kind support were provided by Google and Cisco.

The MDG Monitor showcases existing UN data. The figures presented are from the official MDG Indicators database, maintained by the UN Statistics Division, in close collaboration with agencies and organizations within and outside the UN system, including UN DESA's Statistics and Population Divisions, UNDP's Human Development Reports, and the World Bank's World Development Indicators. The complete MDG database can be accessed at mdgs.un.org

The eight Millennium Development Goals, set in the year 2000, build on agreements made at United Nations conferences in the 1990s and represent commitments by all countries to reduce poverty and hunger, and to tackle ill-health, gender inequality, lack of education, lack of access to clean water and environmental degradation.

Half-way to the target date of 2015, the global scorecard on progress towards the MDGs is mixed, but we now have the tools to monitor progress. The MDG Monitor is a comprehensive, dynamic aggregator of data for better decision making by all involved. As Michael Jones of Google Earth noted, "an open exchange of information can improve the world."

GeoCommons Visualizes Wildfires

FortiusOne, a leader in next-generation intelligent mapping services, showcased their GeoCommons Platform at the GeoInt Symposium. The GeoCommons products provide Intelligent mapping services that enable customers to enhance mission effectiveness by:

  • Simplifying the analysis and visualization of complex geospatial information by non-technical users, with browser accessibility from anywhere;
  • Expanding geospatial data collection to all levels of the organization, including field users; and
  • Accelerating the sharing of information and growth of collective intelligence throughout the organizations with Web 2.0 technologies. 


This image and link to the same shows how GeoCommons is being used to visualize the areas affected by the fires in the San Diego area of Southern California. Within GeoCommons, you can map hazardous incidents as they happen and then overlay data about the people, homes, buildings, and areas affected, thus enabling you to see a much clearer picture of the risks and consequences associated with the incident.

A Path Forward on Climate Change Solutions: The NCSE 2008 Conference - Climate Change: Science and Solutions

by Kelly McManus, NCSE

These are exciting times to be working in the field of climate change solutions. The previously "controversial theory" of climate change is finally being recognized as the global challenge that it is. Increased attention, from media outlets to Fortune 500 companies, has resulted in a multitude of new initiatives, institutions, and innovations. Climate change solutions, it seems, are cropping up faster than coal-fired power plants in China.

Even for the most dedicated researcher, it is extremely difficult to stay current on the myriad developments in climate change solutions, from the community organization that has formed in your neighborhood to the upcoming UN meeting in Bali. Furthermore, important questions, such as the degree of overlap and compatibility among initiatives, the costs and unintended consequences of technological solutions, and the attention given to adaptation measures, remain unanswered.

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), a national non-profit organization that works to improve the scientific basis for environmental decision making, will be tackling these issues at the 8th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment - Climate Change: Science and Solutions, to be held January 16-18, 2008, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

We now know that a strong scientific consensus on climate change science has been established and provides the basis for large-scale, comprehensive, and scientifically-sound solutions. This conference will provide a forum for developing such solutions, providing the opportunity to learn from leading experts such as Dr. Stephen Schneider, Professor at Stanford University and Mr. James E. Rogers, Chairman, President and CEO of Duke Energy Corporation. Keynote addresses, roundtable discussions, and concurrent symposia will focus on the urgent need to address climate change at the global scale, tackling the key social and ecological issues for mitigation and adaptation, and addressing political solutions to climate change at all levels of civil service.

The scale of the climate change challenge creates opportunities in all sectors for developing and implementing solutions. On the afternoon of Thursday, January 17, 2008, NCSE will convene what has become a trademark for the National Conference: 30-35 concurrent breakout sessions, each focused on one aspect of the climate change solution spectrum, and each tasked with the charge of developing recommendations on how to move forward in their given sector or issue area. Referred to by David Blockstein, NCSE’s Conference Chair and Senior Scientist as the "world's largest ad-hoc, pro-bono, environmental consulting firm," this convening of minds around critical issues has proven to be of tremendous value, both during and after the conference. Recommendations generated on Thursday afternoon are shared with conference participants the following morning, and become the backbone of the NCSE Conference Report. A full list of this year’s breakout sessions is available online at www.NCSEonline.org/2008conference.

he rising attention and action surrounding climate change solutions is encouraging. Yet we are reminded by respected leaders such as Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service in the UK Treasury, that there is an urgent need for swift and large-scale action. Climate change solutions must be concerted, comprehensive, and credible. This conference seeks to develop a robust action agenda for moving forward on this global challenge at all scales by inviting all stakeholders to the table for an honest and critical look at these key issues. NCSE invites you to sit at this table, to join us in the crafting of solutions, this coming January 16-18, 2008.

Please visit www.NCSEonline.org/2008conference to register, view the agenda, and learn more.

Podcast Features Imaging Notes

Imaging Notes Publisher Myrna Yoo was interviewed about the magazine’s philosophy and history for National Geography Awareness Week by the team at Very Spatial. A few other media were also interviewed, including Matt Ball and Jeff Thurston of Vector1 Media, and Glenn Letham of Spatial Media, LLC, publisher of GISUser, LBSZone and SymbianOne.

Click to listen.

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