The third Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) conference kicked off yesterday in remote Tengchong, Yunnan.
This marks the end of the plan’s pilot phase and the beginning of concrete implementation.
Oh, you’ve never heard of DBAR?
Neither has anyone else. But it’s kind of a big deal. It’s a sweeping initiative spearheaded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences that complements and supports the “analog” Belt and Road.
Nominally, it’s centered around two main tasks:
The collection of big earth data (mostly via satellites), which will be used to support the UN’s sustainable development goals for 2030The creation of a big earth data platform to process and share that data with scientists, policymakers, and the public - think “Google Earth,” powered by Chinese satellites and supercomputers
The data platform, currently in beta, is slated for release in OBOR countries in 2019, and for global use in 2020.
Get smart: DBAR has real academic and social value, but there’s more to the story. The more countries that take part means the more clout China will have in terms of international standard-setting.
And the bigger the DBAR, the better the chance that China becomes the global leader in both digital stewardship and emerging technologies.