What is I-GUIDE


Institute for Geospatial Understanding through an Integrative Discovery Environment


Sustainability and resilience are among the biggest challenges the world faces today, especially regarding climate change. Meeting those challenges means both collecting as much data  about our world as possible and harnessing that data.

I-GUIDE is a big part of harnessing that data revolution. 

That’s because there is a tsunami of information flowing through our world. Geospatial data is location-based and fundamental to understanding our Earth environment. When combined, such data can provide insights into relationships between people and environments and reveal patterns and trends of environmental changes

Geospatial data is collected everywhere and all the time – think of it pouring through satellites, GPS-enabled devices like your mobile phone, and social media. 

Here’s what I-GUIDE is:

I – Institute: The institute is a powerful multi-disciplinary partnership funded by the National Science Foundation. The team includes national and international leaders in a broad spectrum of scientific and engineering fields as well as experts in data visualization, communications and workforce development. The Institute has both experienced experts and up-and-coming students.

Based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the institute is comprised of seven U.S. universities and four alliances. The institute also partners with some of the world’s largest corporations, government agencies and organizations.

GU – Geospatial Understanding: Disasters and human activities in one place have impacts on places nearby and far away, notably biodiversity, food security, and water security. The framework of telecoupling (socioeconomic-environmental interactions over distances) provides a powerful tool to uncover the complex patterns, processes and consequences associated with these connections. 

The amount of data is huge and is from many different sources – including documents from research literature, government and industry reports, news coverage, and social media. By synthesizing such data, scientists working across different disciplines can uncover patterns, changes, and trends that span large geographic areas over time.

IDE- Integrative Discovery Environment

All that synthesizing is a gigantic effort that requires a diverse team and pooled resources to allow access to artificial intelligence and supercomputing capabilities and broad expertise to integrate and understand so much data from so many sources in so many formats. Alongside developing new software tools to ease access, the institute fosters open collaboration among diverse communities, bridging the digital divide that hinders participation from underrepresented communities.

I-GUIDE’s teams will both interpret data from many different sources and in different forms, as well as allow scientists to predict different outcomes and envision possible solutions. The following six teams have been mobilized to optimize the breadth of expertise, as well as give weight to quickly moving discoveries to applications. 

Initially, the I-GUIDE teams are focusing on resilience and environmental sustainability, specifically climate, ecology, food, and water problems, as well as creating an open-access platform available to anyone on a quest for solutions to these crucial challenges. 

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