Data Commons: Making sustainability data accessible

At Google, we believe that giving everyone easy access to data can be revolutionary — especially when it comes to solving the world’s most pressing problems like climate change.

Take Google Maps for example. Before Google Maps, information — like satellite imagery, maps of roads and information about businesses — was found in different places. Google Maps brings all this helpful information together, so people can use it not only to navigate and explore the world with ease, but also to find solutions to problems facing their communities. We’ve seen people use Google Maps to help do everything from giving communities access to emergency food services to fighting the opioid crisis by highlighting drug drop-off centers.

Despite the critical urgency to combat the effects of climate change, finding data around sustainability is where mapping data was 15 years ago. It’s fragmented across thousands of silos, in a cacophony of schemas, and across a multitude of databases. In 2017, we started the Data Commons project to organize all this data to create standardized, universal access for consumers, journalists, policymakers and researchers. Today, Data Commons is one of the world’s largest Knowledge Graphs on sustainability, spanning more than 100 new sources of data about climate, health, food, crops, shelter, emissions and more.

The graph contains nearly 3 billion time series across over 100,000 variables about 2.9 million places. Anyone can access, explore and understand this data using Google Search or our free dashboards and visualization tools. Or they can use our open and free APIs to build new tools based on this data. For enterprise customers, this data is available via Data Commons on the BigQuery Analytics Hub.

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