Introducing The Greenhouse


2 min read

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We are constantly inspired by the work of our partners. Our partners are our best allies in solving the world’s greatest development challenges.

They find creative ways to address climate change, respond to humanitarian disasters, tackle air inequality, improve rural access and so much more. We try to inspire our partners with new ways to improve their work with cloud computing, satellite imagery, and machine learning.

We built The Greenhouse to offer inspiration to the broader community. In the Greenhouse, you’ll see our internal R&D projects. Some are utilities that suit a specific immediate need. Some are approaches that we hope will shape the sector for years to come.

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Skynet, our suite of machine learning tools for detecting features in satellite imagery, started as a labs project to apply the powerful AI behind image search engines to satellite imagery. Today, the World Bank is using Skynet in Vietnam to better inventory roads and make better road planning decisions.

The Washington Post wanted to take advantage of Mapbox GL to create fast, responsive election maps for the 2016 election. They also needed to use the Albers US projection, which Mapbox GL doesn’t support out of the box. Dirty Reprojectors was born from this project and is now used to make more beautiful, meaningful maps all over the web.

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We believe innovation and experimentation are key ingredients to thinking about development challenges in new ways. Oftentimes, opportunities to solve complex and important problems don’t arrive neatly packaged in RFPs or through contracts. We’re constantly pushing ourselves to improve our collective knowledge as an organization, and in turn improve the tools we make with our partners to change the world. All of our research work is done in an open space, with the intention of encouraging others to use our tools and add their own contributions.

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The Greenhouse is a space to grow new ideas and experiments within our organization, and with our partners. It’s often the work we’re most proud of (and have the most fun creating). What you see on The Greenhouse is just the beginning. Bring us your ideas, join our conversations, and work with us to tackle new challenges.

What we're doing.