Jack Dangermond and his company, the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), have teamed up with NASA to help improve image and data transmission in the cloud—thereby making the jobs of environmental scientists a bit easier.
This involved combining two separate technologies, NASA's Meta Raster Format (MRF) and Esri's Limited Error Raster Compression (LERF), in order to improve cloud performance related to important scientific imagery and data. In a press release, Dangermond stated that this partnership had been in the works for some time, and that he wanted "to take this a step further..." and "inspire innovation and encourage problem solving."
Transmitting images and data stored in the cloud have posed a bit of a conundrum, as applications can receive large amounts of data slowly but accurately, or small amounts quickly but with questionable accuracy. The introduction of Esri's patented compression method to NASA's format has streamlined the process, eliminating this trade-off and resulting in improved imagery for the geospatial and earth sciences communities at large.
Although the jargon can be dense, and the seemingly minor improvements may be difficult to fully understand, the practical implications of making these transmissions faster and more accurate are far-reaching, affecting many familiar issues. For example, faster and more accurate data access can improve how scientists analyze and track Earth's environmental changes. This includes such fields as climate change, food sustainability, and air pollution—and these improvements will make this information readily available for policymakers and the public.
This act of generosity from Esri is unique, given its involvement with NASA, but certainly within the realm of Dangermond's philanthropic interests. Up until this point, Dangermond has set his sights on science education and these kinds of environmental issues—unsurprising, given his background in the environmental sciences. With more discussions surrounding sustainability and (particularly) global climate change heating up in the media and in policy settings, it wouldn't be surprising to see Dangermond become even more active in this space in the coming years.
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