ASPRS OUTSTANDING TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD ANNOUNCED

Bethesda, MD, March 9, 2017:  The ASPRS Awards Committee has named the

GOOGLE EARTH ENGINE TEAM winner of the 2017 Outstanding Technical Achievement Award

Developers: Rebecca Moore, Matt Hancher, Noel Gorelick, Mike Dixon, Simon Ilyushchenko, and David Thau.

Google Earth Engine History

In 2009-10, Rebecca Moore, Matt Hancher, Noel Gorelick, Mike Dixon, Simon Ilyushchenko, and David Thau began work on Google Earth Engine, with the initial goal of addressing global deforestation by building a platform for planetary-scale imagery analysis.  The team built a series of increasingly-functional prototypes in close collaboration with remote sensing science experts who identified the desired capabilities for the platform.  Google Earth Engine was first formally introduced to the world at the COP16 International Climate Conference in 2010. Since then, the Earth Engine team has grown, many new features and datasets have been added, and today Earth Engine has more than 30,000 users in 165 countries.

Google Earth Engine has primarily been used by scientists and researchers developing algorithms for imagery and geospatial analysis through the use of the Earth Engine Code Editor.  More than 100 scientific journal articles have been published applying Earth Engine across a wide variety of disciplines, from mapping and measuring global forest change and global surface water change to estimating evapotranspiration, agricultural crop yields, urban extent, sea-level rise impacts,  biodiversity habitat suitability, earthquake and malaria risk.

Google Earth Engine (GEE) also powers a growing number of operational real-world web applications (such as Global Forest Watch, Map of Life, Climate Engine, Coastal Risk Vanuatu) which tackle  global challenges from sustainable management of natural resources to helping vulnerable communities adapt under a changing climate.  GEE is unique in that it is constantly evolving and improving as Google as well as users add functionality as necessary to solve real world problems.

The scale of the platform is illustrated by Earth Engine’s Timelapse feature, which puts three decades of planetary change into the hands of everyone around the world.  Its construction required sifting thru more than 5 million Landsat and Sentinel satellite images, using more than 4 million hours of computation to distill 3 quadrillion pixels into the interactive Timelapse dataset.  A task which would have taken hundreds of years on a single computer was completed in several days on Earth Engine.

By co-locating multi-petabyte, continually-updating data archives with massive computational resources in the Google cloud, accessible from an ordinary web browser, Google Earth Engine has radically changed the way that earth observing imagery is viewed and analyzed, opening up the opportunity to quickly and effectively make use of cloud processing for all.  This innovation has allowed for giant leaps in our ability to view the earth, to measure and monitor global environmental changes in near real-time at unprecedented resolution, and to democratize access to this information in order to guide policy, planning and decision-making worldwide.

The award plaque and a check for $5,500 will be presented at the ASPRS Annual IGTF Conference in Baltimore, Maryland at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at the 8:00am Plenary Session.  The Google Earth Engine team wishes to give this cash award to the ASPRS Scholarship Fund for students.