Science Museum Climate Change Exhibit Powered by C-ROADS

February 2, 2010 by Stephanie McCauley

Guest post here by Mike Richards, from his Excellence By Design blog**. Mike was one of the visionary founders **of our “Open Source” and “Open Innovation” platform for Climate Interactive__, back in 2007.

The exhibit below grew out of a partnership with Richard Polonsky of Brown University and Henry Kaufman and team of Tactable. It is installed in __the Ecotarium in Worcester, Massachusetts.

There is a new, way cool interactive map of the future of our planet’s climate. Check out the Map of the Future below.  This new tool was developed as part of an NSF sponsored traveling museum exhibit. The interface is really great.

The reason I mention it is also because _the science for the climate calculations is based on Climate Interactive’s simulation _tool — C-ROADS.  I was lucky enough to be part of the original team who helped craft the vision for the tool, which was based on absolute adherence to scientific accuracy, speedy execution, and (my main contribution) to do so using an ‘open’ design approach to enable future community based enhancements and innovative uses…like the Map of the Future.

I would argue that ‘Excellence’ in regards to this effort used many of the principles I have espoused in this blog.  We wanted to enable chaotic (i.e. unplanned, unexpected, innovative) uses of the simulation.  So we designed it as a platform so that others could (appropriately) extend its capability, usability, and impact.  We also wanted to ensure appropriate control so the team that developed the model ensured it has a robust scientific process for validation.

We also wanted to move climate simulation from a specialized craft that only deep scientists could deal with, to something speedy and easy to use (yet accurate), to broaden the community of people who could use the tool, and extend it.  As a result we created versions focused on learning, and versions focused on negotiating scenarios among countries.  The former case was used for the Map of the Future tool you see above.  The latter version has been used by various countries and most importantly, in the recent climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

My hat is off to Drew Jones who has been the leader of this whole effort.  Drew is dedicated and passionate, smart and pragmatic, willing to start simple yet pursue excellence.  Due to his efforts we were able to get some very different perspectives into the project and I think, achieve some real Excellence…by Design.