The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet
Back in April, we looked at an ambitious European plan to simulate the entire planet. The idea is to exploit the huge amounts of data generated by financial markets, health records, social media and climate monitoring to model the planet’s climate, societies and economy. The vision is that a system like this can help to understand and predict crises before they occur so that governments can take appropriate measures in advance. There are numerous challenges here. Nobody yet has the computing power necessary for such a task, neither are there models that will can accurately model even much smaller systems. But before any of that is possible, researchers must gather the economic, social and technological data needed to feed this machine. Today, we get a grand tour of this challenge from Dirk Helbing and Stefano Balietti at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. These and other pursuits are now producing massive amounts of data, many of which are freely available on the web.