Photo Credit: SERVIR-Mekong
In partnership with the University of San Francisco, SERVIR-Mekong developed and tested a GEE curriculum that served as the backbone for a regional training event in Bangkok in July 2016. This training was delivered in close partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and SilvaCarbon, bringing in 38 scientists from the region.
In this two-day training, participants were introduced to and practiced working in the Earth Engine Code Editor Platform; learned how to access, process and analyze data from the public data catalogue; and learned how to write their own programming for mapping purposes.
"Now that I have been introduced to Google Earth Engine, I can see that is is much easier and faster to use than the platform I currently have. My thesis is related to forest mapping for the Mekong region and when I return to my university, I plan to change my analysis tool to Earth Engine."
-- Nguyen Thein Hoa, PhD student and researcher at Can Tho University, Vietnam
With high demand, SERVIR-Mekong has taken the GEE training on the road with additional events in Cambodia and Vietnam. Through this training 'roadshow' SERVIR-Mekong has expanded and deepened partnerships with key stakeholders such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Asia Foundation. In Cambodia, WCS is playing an important role in supporting the Government in revising its Environmental Code. "Remote sensing on the GEE platform will be critical for setting environmental baselines and monitoring efficacy of the new Code" says Dr. David Ganz, SERVIR-Mekong's former Chief of Party. "The Asia Foundation supported us to train its civil society partners in environmental monitoring" he added.
"The best way for me to learn is to teach"
-- Dr. Do Minh Phuong, Hanoi co-trainer and Senior Researcher at the National Institute for Agriculture Planning and Projection, Vietnam
In the last half of 2016, additional GEE trainings were completed in Vietnam with training materials translated into Vietnamese with support from the USAID Vietnam Forest and Deltas activity. In order to sustain these training programs, SERVIR-Mekong has employed a trainer of trainer approach. Two Vietnamese participants from the Bangkok training are now serving as co-trainers, bringing the power of GEE to more scientists in Vietnam. As a result of this approach, Vietnam has become the 4th largest in terms of number of users visiting and using Google Earth Engine.
"GEE is useful for my daily work, especially for land changes and environment monitoring, soil erosion and so on. GEE is particularly useful for developing countries as you do not need to use expensive or complicated image processing tools. We can get nice results from GEE where we can get thousands of images at the same time at country, regional and global level."
-- Ms. Ha, Senior Researcher in GIS for Disaster Risk Assessment
The GEE training is not a one-off event; it is an opportunity for SERVIR-Mekong to expand partnerships with stakeholders in the Lower Mekong. After receiving the GEE training, the Vietnam Academy of Water Resources (VAWR) and the Institute of Water Resources Planning (IWRP) have requested more advanced courses to further strengthen capacity in using this technology.
"In terms of future collaboration, we would like to further develop and co-develop tools and datasets with SERVIR-Mekong along with curriculum for further training of people, such as those at the provincial level, and universities, like PhD and Masters students. That is the future we would like to see with SERVIR-Mekong."
-- Dr. Trinh, Head of International Cooperation, VAWR
In addition, SERVIR-Mekong is now working with VAWR and IWRP in the co-development of tools that will add value to decision making on water resource planning for Vietnam. This engagement began with GEE but is now moving towards a more dynamic and sustained partnership that will create meaningful tools and services for practitioners in Vietnam.