umn.edu
Together we’re solving the world's biggest challenges.
umn.edu
…

I am driven to use big data to reinvent how we feed the world

“Big data” has emerged as an enormous tool as we work to feed the world. Vipin Kumar analyzes the massive data being generated by Earth observation satellites to figure out how to best navigate the intersecting worlds of food production, water, energy, and climate change.

Using big data to help connect the issues around hunger

0:53
Vipin Kumar

“The ultimate aim is to be able to produce the information that allows the stakeholders to figure out relationships between food, energy, water, and climate change. All of these things are so interlinked that you cannot study them ... in isolation.”

Vipin Kumar, Professor

Zettabyte is the new gigabyte

Global data in zettabytes403530252015105020092010201120122013201420152016201720182019Big data has grown exponentially in recent years

Shows approximate growth in big data since 2009 and projecting to 2019. (Note: 1 zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes)

Using big data to track the vastly changing landscape in Indonesia

Thanks to big data, scientists are for the first time able to build annual histories of land use in large areas of Indonesia. This helps determine where and how forests are being removed and converted into palm oil plantations. The data is especially useful for corporations desiring to purchase only from producers using sustainable land practices.

animated graphic of changing pattern of palm oil plantations in Indonesia from 2001 to 2014

Mapping of palm oil plantations in Indonesia from 2001 to 2014. Red areas show plantations that existed in 2001; green shows changes through 2014.

“Students are very excited about working on these [issues] because it allows them not only to develop new solutions in computer science that can be used in many, many other places, but also see them being used to solve some of the grand challenges that society faces.” Vipin Kumar, Professor