Climate change and its accompanying environmental and social problems, such as environmental degradation, mass human migration, famine, poverty and disease impact communities of all political and religious persuasions and economic status throughout the world. The effective mitigation of these problems requires innovative approaches to land-use that can rapidly scale. GoodLands was created to provide ecological master-planning information, insights and services to Catholic organizations, which comprise the largest nongovernmental network of land in the world. We equip the Catholic community to lead in the implementation of Laudato Si' by providing geospatial analysis and targeted environmental and social stewardship programs at every scale of Catholic land management.
We realize that the scope of what needs to be achieved in the next decade to reverse the worst climate change scenarios and help Catholic communities make regenerative real estate decisions and adaptive design plans is beyond the means of any single entity -- we need a platform that can help multiple stakeholders communicate and thoughtfully plan how their land can promote environmental and social wellbeing while increasing fiscal sustainability. Our work has already generated massive amounts of location data about the global Catholic network. We are proposing to develop a GeoHub platform that will enable partnering organizations to leverage our data and communicate, plan, and exchange their own data with Catholic entities to greatly enhance each other’s critical mission-driven work around the world.
Our GeoHub provides the necessary framework to enable Catholic community users to share geographic information and collaborate on data development, which can avoid the costly, error-prone duplication of datasets across organizations and make their programs more effective and efficient. Allowing our partners to leverage the data we collect and share their own data will potentially save the global Catholic community billions of dollars each year. To make this possible, we will develop the second phase of our GeoHub. The first phase of this was a Geoportal, internally developed for GoodLands’ operations (see demo in video below).
At the heart of the GeoHub is cloud-based geographic information systems technology that provides organizations with secure systems of records for storing their location information that they can update and share as they see fit. What makes the platform work for communities are systems of engagement that provide context for platform users for intra-organization applications and for inter-organization use as a way to promote collaboration and smarter planning decisions. The GeoHub allows organizations to focus less on analysis and more on their mission-oriented goals, and it allows GoodLands to multiply the positive impact of its land-based data. Combined with community-driven design, the land-based data drives our land-use planning efforts.
The Catholic Church and its affiliated organizations comprise the largest nongovernmental network of landholdings and facilities in the world. Consequently, the potential impact of our solution to problems related to ecosystems degradation and threats to community health from poverty, disease and other factors is profound. We are driven by Pope Francis’ vision in Ladato Si' calling for efforts to promote conservation and sustainability, and avoid participation in the "throw-away culture." The scale and scope of Church affiliated properties would enable our efforts to make a major contribution to combating the effects of environmental degradation. A Church network focused on sustainable environmental practices could become one of the largest global networks of its kind, on par with Catholic healthcare, aid, and education networks. The geographic perspective provided by mapping technology is necessary to make this a reality.
We have laid the foundation for our GeoHub with a world-class team of collaborators that includes systems architects and engineers who have developed major spatial data infrastructures (SDI), including the City of Los Angeles’ GeoHub, the European Union’s INSPIRE SDI, and the GeoSUR SDI for the Latin American Development Bank. During our Phase 1 development we established a partnership with Esri, the global leader in geospatial technology, to launch the Catholic Geographic System (TechCrunch, Nov. 2016). As part of this effort, we discussed our work with leadership in the Holy See and received approval to map ecclesiastical jurisdictions globally. To date, we have developed the first comprehensive global maps of Catholic Latin-rite ecclesiastical jurisdictions in history.
We established contributing data partnerships with major Catholic NGOs and research centers, including the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Directory, and Catholic Hierarchy to work with their data as part of our prototype. We mapped over 33,000 Catholic-affiliated properties in the United States and collaborated with a team that oversees nation-wide green-infrastructure mapping to analyze how Catholic properties in the USCCB contribute to green infrastructure. We also tested our mapping infrastructure with a variety of other datasets relevant to operations in Catholic communities to ensure that our architecture and platform design would work for programs from a wide variety of sectors.
During Phase 1 we carefully curated what is likely the largest geodatabase of Catholic information in the world. Our maps were displayed in Casina Pio IV at the Vatican and our mapping has received expressions of interest from various groups in the Roman Curia, from Catholic NGOs, and from multi-national organizations around the world. We have laid the technical foundation and established the social connections needed to move our efforts forward. with sufficient financial support, we can build the front-end of our technology to meet existing demand for these services and connect even more platform partners to each other to accomplish measurable progress in improving the state of the planet and prosperity around the world.