DAI Empowers Young Colombian Innovators via NASA Space Apps Challenge

April 21, 2016

Colombia’s 2015 floods affected some 18,000 people. They destroyed homes and bridges, caused the suspension of water and sanitation services, and killed at least 83. The loss of life and millions of dollars in damage have re-emphasized the importance of confronting the effects of climate change in Colombia.

In response, DAI is working with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, its on-campus technology and innovation hub, Centro Ático, and the Centro Internacional de Agriculture Tropical (CIAT) in Cali to harness the entrepreneurial power of young Colombians to tackle climate change with the aid of NASA satellite data, mobile phones, and their own ingenuity.

Earlier this month, DAI hosted Colombia’s first Forum for Technology for Climate Change at Centro Ático, bringing together more than 50 participants from the public and private sectors who work on climate change and environmental management issues to discuss the challenge and how the upcoming NASA Space Apps Challenge can help create pilot solutions. DAI and Javeriana are preparing to host The Space Apps Challenge at Centro Ático with 120 young Colombian innovators from April 22 to 24.

Noemi Danao-Schroeder, DAI’s Director of Governance in Latin America, explained the nature of the event: “The annual NASA Space Apps Challenge is a 30-hour blitz of coding and product development—otherwise known as a hackathon—that occurs simultaneously around the globe, using NASA data and imagery to develop new solutions to pressing global challenges identified by NASA. During the hackathon, NASA satellite imagery, data sets, and tools are made available to students and other participants to create local solutions.” Danao-Schroeder will serve as a judge at the event in Bogotá.

In previous years, DAI has seen success as a Challenge participant. The USAID Regional Climate Change Program in Central America—implemented by CATIE and DAI—sponsored multiple teams at the 2015 Space Apps Challenge in Costa Rica and the result was a pair of prize-winning apps: CoffeeCloud and Forest Guardian. Alejandro Solis, DAI’s Director of ICT in Latin America, guided development of both concepts during the hackathon and describes CoffeeCloud as “a mobile app that connects farmers with coffee associations and extentionists to provide weather, good agricultural practices, and reference info on pests such as coffee rust.”

DAI Board Member Maria Otero was recently in Colombia to take part in the Forum for Technology for Climate Change and said, “DAI is committed to supporting Colombia in its efforts to mitigate climate change and supporting the Space Apps Challenge here is a manifestation of that.”

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