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06/08/2015 Comments (0) Educatie si Cercetare

Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution!

Articolul de față este un argument pentru O lume mai bună prin informație și cunoaștere, participând în The Eye on Earth Summit 2015 Blogging Competition. O competiție cu totul aparte și, din experiența celui care a scris deja, deloc ușoară ca subiect, deși activez de aproape 2 decenii în domeniul mediului. Pentru că orice blogger serios este un formator de opinie și de aceea are o responsabilitate față de comunitatea sa de cititori și față de comunitate în general. Termenul limită de înscriere în competiție este 20 august, iar textul de față sper să vă motiveze să participați și voi.

Data is probably the most important matters that doesn’t physically exist. You can’t really touch data, you can’t get a selfie with some data. Yet, authorities, companies and people are in a constant rush to produce, collect and interpret it and subsequently converting their analysis into decisions that can change the world. Our world. Because on a global scale everything is interconnected, from economies (remember the financial crisis that started in the US and subsequently affected all the markets) to greenhouse gases emissions and global warming (on a global scale, it doesn’t really matter if the hundreds of tons of CO2 or CH4 come from the Chinese industry or the German coal).

In far too many situations, small groups or mankind as a whole are generally not capable of acting together in what concerns putting together the data already obtained. Misunderstood competition, greediness for profit, fear of getting cheated, ego-centrism or exacerbated privacy may lead to severe consequences. It took decades for a joint study of polar bears on both European and American continents. And that is just one example. With higher education people involved, you would expect them to be more prone to collaborate, keener to think on a wider scale.

Compass

Compass application on iOs

Data can save lives, but we need people with skills in processing it. I am not talking here about specialists, but I am thinking about every one of us having a minimum level of digital competencies. On January 2014, a small plane with 5 medical staff and 2 members of the crew going from Bucharest to Oradea crashed in the Apuseni Mountain in Romania at an altitude over 1400 m. Due to errors of inter-communication between several institutions and data transmitted by the plane safety devices, it took almost five hours to precisely locate the plane and to rescue the survivors. Unfortunately, the pilot and one of the medical staff did not survive. Gary Machado, head of European Emergency Number Association affirmed that it the malfunctioning of the Romanian 112 emergency number was not to blame, but it was some European bureaucracy that at that time regulated the GPS coordinates sending in emergency situations. (source) But as described, the rescue efforts would have been improved if one of the survivors have given the correct coordinates using a simple Web application on its mobile phone (see photo on the left).

A simple set of data like Danube water flow in Bratislava and Budapest saves the lives and goods of hundreds of thousands of people in Romania, as authorities have the time to react to flooding risk and evacuate water from the reservoir locks along the river in order to attenuate the peak. Coherent data can support the survival of the ecosystems we are living in and the species that are part of it. But ecosystems rarely match administrative borders, as nature draws its own limits. Certain species will not live only in the EU countries that collect data for their preservation. No matter how good is the wastewater management in Romania, Danube water quality requires decisions taken at basin scale.

Can you imagine how our lives and our enviroment would change if we all contributed with a little information? For example, an application where each of us could map the trees in its neighbourhood so nobody could illegaly cut them down? Because responsible active citizens are the best „environmental police force” that could be ever established. An example in Romania is an alert system for trucks transporting harvested wood: if you identify such a vehicle, you can call the emergency number 112 and check whether the above-mention transport has all the legal forms.

Data changes our lives daily. Recovering your lost/stolen car or mobile phone with a simple application based on geolocation data is just a small example. On the other hand, monitoring vital signs of ambulatory patients (cardiac diseases for example) and data automatically sent to medical care centre mean so often saving lives. Tracking your jogging session or monitoring your fitness performance improves your health. We have exponentially improved our mobility and the amount of things we manage to see in a city-break as everything is on Google Maps. Everything is mobile these days, and mobiles are backed by trillions of megabytes of data every moment.

Water, forests, air, natural resources, these all decisively influence the quality of life for individuals and communities. When it comes to the future of our planet, there is no room for individualism. In the era of mobility and globalisation, “this won’t affect me” paradigm is obsolete. Buying fancy furniture made of rare expensive wood coming from the rain forest of an exotic country makes you part of the problem. And your error might be even bigger than the one of those cutting down the trees, as for may of them it is a matter of survival. It is up to each of us to act responsibly towards our Planet and to support others to do the same. If you want people taking the right decisions in what regards their future and your future, it all comes down to knowledge, to education and data. Informed responsible people see things in a long-term perspective and make sustainable decisions. People with access to data will better understand the implications of their day-to-day actions. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!

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