Archivists are accustomed to asserting that creating digital surrogates of paper records and analog recordings will increase access and facilitate genealogical and other types of historical research. We're not used to thinking about the ways in which digitization can save lives, but a new short film, Saving Data, Saving Lives, highlights just how digitizing historical weather data can save the lives of millions of people who might otherwise perish as a result of floods, drought, and other catastrophic weather events.
The film, which is an entry in LinkTV's ViewChange Online Film Contest, focuses on the work of the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO), which digitizes developing nations' weather observations and makes the results freely available to scientists who can identify areas that are particularly flood-prone and predict the frequency of catastrophic weather events. Governments and individuals living within these nations can then plan accordingly.
Saving Data, Saving Lives is a little more than 5 minutes long, and I strongly encourage you to take the time needed to watch it (note: the audio sounded muffled when played through my speakers, but was okay when played through headphones). I also encourage you to register at LinkTV and affirm the importance of IEDRO's work by voting for Saving Data, Saving Lives. You may cast one vote every 24 hours until 12:00 PM Pacific Time, 15 September 2010; details are available here.
Thanks to Chris Muller for alerting me to this video!