EIDC Resources Set to Enhance Students’ Environmental Research

Written by Carrie McDonald, MDI Journalism Intern

As the new academic year begins, the Environmental Impact Data Collaborative (EIDC), managed by the Massive Data Institute (MDI), is equipping the public with innovative datasets that will allow them to make rapid progress on different projects related to environmental justice and climate change. 

The EIDC is a cloud-computing platform that provides users with access to over 170 datasets as well as tools to analyze and visualize these billions of rows of information, enabling community groups, policy-makers, and researchers to collaborate on developing comprehensive solutions that work to combat climate change and champion environmental justice. Michael Bailey, the Colonel William J. Walsh Professor of American Government in the Department of Government and McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, leads the project as the Director of the EIDC.  

EIDC research projects span topics related to environmental justice, federal spending, energy, and air and water. A few research highlights include a partnership with BlocPower, a Brooklyn-based climate technology company, to build the largest and most comprehensive dataset for building energy efficiency planning. The dataset allows users to analyze local energy usage patterns to investigate building decarbonization strategies through data on the U.S. housing stock. Last month, Grace Jensen, an EIDC graduate research assistant, used EIDC datasets to propose a new formula for determining federal funding distribution for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to better protect those vulnerable to extreme heat conditions and correct an overemphasis on assistance to those at risk to freezing conditions. 

MDI has also partnered with nonprofit organizations such as the Environmental Policy Innovation Center and Dream.Org to ensure that the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative is being implemented equitably. Through the development of a Spatial Data Toolkit, MDI is working to identify communities most vulnerable to climate change and environmental injustice — a crucial step in verifying that a mandated 40% of federal benefits in climate and clean energy flow are invested in at-risk communities. 

Incorporating environmental justice values in classroom instruction is central to EIDC’s mission. The Data Collaborative has designed resources to help educators incorporate the EIDC platform, where students can work and collaborate on code and instructors can track their progress live, in the classroom setting at Georgetown and at universities across the world. There are video tutorials to support users with detailed steps and featured research to inspire users with cutting-edge ideas and readily reproducible codebase. The premier datasets on the platform are also equipped with rigorous user guides and an extensive knowledge library to inform users about the relevant domains. 

The EIDC also hopes to reach new students beyond formal classroom instruction this semester. MDI is hosting an in-person information session, on Wednesday, September 13, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., where students will have the opportunity to learn more about EIDC and how they can use its tools and accessible datasets as a resource for their thesis projects and independent research endeavors.

climate change
environmental justice