Major Organizations That Work in Environmental Intelligence

By Lillian Pierson

Because environmental intelligence (EI) is a social-good application of data science, there aren’t a ton of funding sources out there, which is probably the chief reason not many people are working in this line of data science. EI is small, but some folks in dedicated organizations have found a way to earn a living by creating EI solutions that serve the public good.

In the following list, a few of those organizations are names, as well as the umbrella organizations that fund them. If your goal is to use EI technologies to build products that support decision making for the betterment of environmental health and safety, one of these organizations will likely be willing to help you with advice or even support services:

  • DataKind: A nonprofit organization of data science volunteers who donate their time and skills to work together in the service of humanity, DataKind was started by the data science legend Jake Porway. The organization has donated EI support to projects in developing nations and first-world countries alike. DataKind’s sponsors include National Geographic, IBM, and Pop! Tech.
  • Elva: A nongovernmental organization, Elva was built by a small, independent group of international digital humanitarians — knowledge workers who use data and disruptive technologies to build solutions for international humanitarian problems. Elva founders gave their time and skills to build a mobile-phone platform, which allows marginalized communities to map local needs and to work with decision-makers to develop effective joint-response plans. Elva offers EI support for environmental projects that are centered in underserved, developing nations. Elva is directed by Jonne Catshoek and is sponsored by UNDP, USAID, and Eurasia Partnership.
  • Vizzuality: Here’s a business started by the founders of CartoDB. Almost all of Vizzuality’s projects involve using EI to serve the betterment of the environment. Vizzuality was founded by Javier de la Torre, and some of the organization’s bigger clients have included Google, UNEP, NASA, the University of Oxford, and Yale University.
  • QCRI: The Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) is a national organization that’s owned and funded by a private, nonprofit, community development foundation in Qatar. The social-innovation section delivers some ongoing environmental projects, including Artificial Intelligence in Disaster Response (AIDR) and a crowdsourced verification-for-disaster-response platform (Verily).