Climate data platform

Picture of Sophia Petrillo's frowning face from The Golden Girls.
Picture it! San Francisco, 2011
The era of ”Big Data,” and just getting a handle on how to structure it.

Climate change is the existential threat of our time. I was the UX designer as Google.org explored how we might use our technology to organize and make climate data accessible and useful in the effort to adapt.

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A small team at Google.org hatched an ambitious plan to organize the world’s meteorological and climate data. We wanted to develop a data platform and application-authoring environment to help organizations translate science into practice for climate change adaptation.

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We collaborated with climate and agriculture scientists doing the hard work to help the world understand and adapt to climate change. Our project ultimately didn’t proceed at the scale we wanted, but did demonstrate some of the power of technology and design for software to aid in climate change adaptation.

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To varying degrees of completeness, flows, frameworks, and user interfaces were created for everything from massively collaborative data collection, scientific application authoring, consumer search of weather and climate data, generalized model exploration, and more. With scientist participation, I designed sophisticated user interfaces to search and visualize vast quantities of both historic and modeled climatological data from heterogenous sources.

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Here’s a climate model exploration interface based on Photoshop’s Variations tool.

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I was the sole designer on the project, bridging the scientific, technological, and user experience dimensions of everything we worked on, in collaboration with Amy Luers and Lacy Caruthers. I facilitated workshops with climate scientists, was part of a team who conducted field research in South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya, and passionately advocated for the project internally at Google.org.

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