NatureServe, a nonprofit organization providing the authoritative source for biodiversity data throughout North America, has been selected as a winner of the 2020 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant. The public grant, available to U.S. based 501(c) nonprofit organizations using technology to solve the world’s most pressing challenges, will help NatureServe implement its 10th generation bioinformatics software – Biotics. The transformational software is a complete biodiversity data and analytics solution for mapping species and ecosystem locations with high precision to assess the extinction risk of imperiled species and habitats.
Now in its third year, the AWS Imagine Grant program provides vital resources to nonprofit organizations looking to deploy cloud technology as a central tool to achieve mission goals. As part of the program, AWS seeks proposals for big ideas on how to leverage technology in new and innovative ways to accelerate impact in local and global communities.
To achieve its mission of preventing extinction, NatureServe is reimagining its critical data infrastructure as one that operates with greater agility to accommodate real-time updates from new sources and automates the transformation of data into better information products. The new cloud deployment of Biotics will address four urgent challenges:
- Moving from outdated, on-premise servers to the cloud will increase reliability and allow the system to scale affordably to accommodate higher volumes of data.
- AWS data lake infrastructure will provide the flexibility to combine existing structured data with new sources of observations including citizen science, camera traps, drones, satellite data, acoustic, and other kinds of remote sensing that can give early warning of significant changes.
- AWS big data processing and machine learning services will automate the transformation of data into knowledge products such as species habitat models and extinction risk assessments.
- AWS real-time data analytics services will produce trend indicators needed to keep pace with rapidly advancing threats to biodiversity.
Sean O’Brien, CEO, NatureServe, said, “The fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook from the United Nations in 2020 signaled a wake-up call that continued biodiversity loss and ongoing degradation of ecosystems are having profound consequences on human wellbeing and survival. A data lake, cloud-based version of Biotics will bring the most comprehensive and scientifically rigorous biodiversity dataset for the United States and Canada into the hands of decision-makers at this critical time for our planet.”
NatureServe will receive up to $100,000 in unrestricted funding and up to $50,000 in AWS Promotional Credits, in addition to other capacity-building resources, including training and implementation support. Proposals were judged on several factors including the innovative and unique nature of the project, impact on mission-critical goals, and clearly defined outcomes and milestones.
“We received an inspiring set of applications for this year’s AWS Imagine Grant, representing a diverse set of projects across the nonprofit sector,” said Dave Levy, Vice President of Nonprofits and U.S. Government at AWS. “We congratulate our winners, who are doing fantastic work to address important societal challenges. AWS looks forward to collaborating with these amazing organizations and to building, inventing, and reimagining solutions that drive meaningful change.”