Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at Sometimes she reads her emails too.

Amazon launched the Amazon sustainability Sustainability Data Initiative, a program to promote research, innovation and problem-solving in the field of sustainability. In this initiative, Amazon aims to make its key data widely available and easily accessible.

The program makes use of the technology and infrastructure of Amazon Web Services. It is a collaboration between the teams of AWS Open Data and Amazon Sustainability. It began last year for the initiation of storing a large amount of public data and accessing it to explore the planet. The initiative identifies foundational data for sustainability and works closely with data providers like NOAA to stage their data in the AWS Cloud by giving them complete ownership and control over how their data is shared.

Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative envisions democratizing access to data by making it available on AWS, developing new cloud access technologies and above all encouraging the development of communities who can reap the benefit from access to shared datasets. Examples of datasets already available through the initiative include weather observations and forecast data, climate projections data, satellite imagery, hydrological data, air quality data, and ocean forecast data. Amazon has maintained that providing easier access to massive datasets (i.e. petabyte-scale) in the cloud will help researchers and innovators address a wide range of sustainability challenges, such as the impacts of climate change and weather extremes.

Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative is cost effective and less cumbersome as there is no need for data acquisition. For encouraging application development there are AWS Promotional Credits, which can be applied by researchers via AWS Cloud Credits. Reduction in costs will provide more opportunities to researchers and foster greater innovation.

Sharing data in the cloud enables anyone to easily access large datasets to perform modeling and analysis at a scale that was previously limited to institutions with access to super computers and dedicated data centers. To encourage the exchange of technical knowledge, the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative works with users to document and share lessons learned through blog posts, tutorials, and open source code, all of which can be found on the Registry of Open Data on AWS.

AWS has also teamed with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) for providing around $1.5 million in cloud credits to projects that would lead to a better world. The partnership between GEO and AWS would provide GEO members in the developing world access to cloud services for hosting, processing and data analysis for improved decision making that would take us closer to our goal of sustainability.

AWS has millions of active customers around the world and many of those customers are already doing innovative work by leveraging open data and AWS capabilities. For example, Element84 is exploring the use of AWS open satellite imagery and machine learning algorithms by using Amazon SageMaker to provide timely and critical information (e.g., location of buildings) during disaster response efforts.


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