Earlier this month, world leaders from 195 nations gathered in Paris for the COP21 summit where they agreed on a ‘landmark climate accord’. Now, nearly every country is committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and changing the way the world uses fossil fuels and have begun the long process of developing individual national climate action plans for achieving these goals.

But while global leaders focus on making improvements at the national-level, small towns in Senegal and urban farmers in Ghana are still being effected by climate change in their communities. For the COP21 accord to succeed on an international scale, it is critical to develop solutions in hard-to-reach communities that will help improve their access to information and allow them to act effectively as they face evolving climate challenges.

This is why Future Earth is partnering with the Ecological Sequestration Trust to connect some of the most vulnerable communities in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area with risk data, sustainable low carbon innovations, resource management practices and experienced policy makers through the ‘Community Cockpit’.

The ‘Community Cockpit’ functions as an online, web platform accessible from any mobile device or computers with an internet connection. It will house data on water, flooding, fires, temperatures and extreme weather events that take place in the community, as well as policy documents and open source demographic, economic and infrastructural data.

Old Fadama settlement in Accra.

Old Fadama settlement in Accra.

Catherine Allinson is the Director of Future Earth, she said opening up government data for private sector innovation is not common enough in Ghana and that’s why she believes the cockpit will succeed when it’s launched. Allinson said, fair representation and ‘ease of use’ are key to kickstarting resilient practices in targeted communities. This is why she said, the ‘Community Cockpit’ will be designed in collaboration with residents of Accra’s Old Fadama neighborhood and every user will have the chance to contribute to the data repository by using their phones to post pictures and record personal accounts.

“There’s going to be data not only coming from top down but also from bottom up, which means it’s a much richer data set and better decisions can be made across the board. Your decision makers can get on the cockpit and see the concerns and proposed interventions from people in the communities and vice versa. They can have very constructive conversations. And everything on the platform will be in forms that layman can read. It doesn’t have to be spreadsheets and detailed reports.” – Catherine Allinson, Director, Future Earth

The cockpit platform will be linked to the resilience.io resource flow model. The Future Earth team is also exploring the possibility of incorporating a selection of informational climate apps from other organizations into the platform. Allinson said Future Earth’s methods for building awareness of climate change and solutions for community resiliency need to be adaptable because climate conditions will continue to change as will Ghana’s policies to try and deal with climate issues.

Allinson said the ability to design a flexible platform that can meet current and future needs of the communities and insure daily local practices are not at mercy of the weather will be the true measure of Future Earth’s success.

“This is not a pre-prescribed journey. We don’t have an end vision of what this will be. We want to work with Ghanaians to determine what it is that they want to see. What kind of solutions work for them?”

For Allinson, the process of transforming data into actionable information, is what will result in ‘environmental intelligence’ and enable Ghanaians to begin addressing climate change and the safety and economic challenges it presents. She said she hopes more African innovators will join their fight and get involved in building, ‘community cockpits’ in cities all across the continent.