Reflections 2020

Abhilasha Purwar
January 29, 2021

With the unfortunate onset of the global pandemic, we here at Blue Sky reminisced about some of the more positive things that we were thankful for in 2020.

Space Oscars and a slow burn

Blue Sky Analytics was on a hot streak at the cusp of 2019-20. We had presented and won MIT Solve – an impact focused marketplace by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that encourages social innovation. We braced for 2020, pocketing the Copernicus Masters Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (dubbed as the Space Oscars) which was as surreal a moment for us as it was for Bong Joon-Ho for his Oscar win.

When we woke up to the news of the Wuhan strain in the early hours of last year, it seemed like winter had come to stay. The first four months at Blue Sky were of introspection and strategizing as we poured more effort into refining our products. Raising a $1.2 million seed round right in the middle of pandemic induced lockdown induced crisis was definitely not easy, but probably the best blessing in disguise. As a young founder, if I can lend an advice, partner with people who would not leave your side in the worst of the times. Another $300k grant support from Patrick J MvGovern and Schmidt Futures was certainly music to our ears. In the worst of times, with Covid fear rampant, we found ourselves in an amazing company of people who believed in our vision and potential as climate saviors.

SpaceTime and Zuri

Making our way through the mid-2020s, our team was hard at work in finalizing a visual dashboard – SpaceTime. The reasoning behind SpaceTime stems from our vision for making environmental data and its insights accessible for all. That means opening-up the dashboard to tech and data experts, as well as general enthusiasts. The dashboard combines two factors: a temporal dataset visualized over a spatial plane. SpaceTime serves the purpose of not only harboring historical datasets, but providing near real-time visualizations on contemporary issues like farm fires and air quality.

One of these datasets that is to be linked is called Zuri. Zuri is being built as India’s first publicly accessible platform that will host incidence of farm fires and other fire instances. Most of our team works in farm-fire territory, so we can vouch for the need to have a reference that puts a “face” on the problem. For now, these are shown as little red dots across the fire belt in North India. Zuri was built completely remotely, in a span of 2 months. Our first product BreeZo, took a whole 10 months. We are kind of proud of that!

Full circle with Al Gore

The year couldn’t have ended on a better note – Climate TRACE of which Blue Sky is a founding member, was named TIME Top 100 inventions of 2020. We shared this small win for us, and a big win for the coalition by experiencing a full circle moment when we presented to Al Gore. Yup – the same Al Gore whose award winning documentary stunned millions and rekindled the fight for our planet.

Believe me - it was as surreal for us as it could be.

Our strategy team presented Blue Sky’s vision and what it meant for the team to tackling the crisis from a remote setup. Why does Climate TRACE mean so much to us? It’s about recognizing collaboration and having the opportunity to share our beliefs in bringing transparency to environmental information.

Target 2021 and You

The past year has certainly brought many changes. Growing in numbers from a dining table sibling duo, to a full functioning remote setup threw its curveballs.  It made us value human interactions in the time of the pandemic, of trust and camraderie in setting up a team of 25 something data whizzes, AI experts and future climate tech leaders. When the hours of coding and strategizing got weary, drawsaurus (kinda like online pictionary) sessions brought us even closer.

A candid shot of some members of the Blue Sky team

What hasn't changed is what we set out to do. We aim to be leaders in Climate & Environmental Data and provide everyone with the starting point of problem, analysis, cause and action. We are committed to the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) philosophy for climate action. Our tech team is hard at work in building components of our data refinery which we hope to release to the student, research and data community for further collaboration. Whether its SpaceTime or Datasets, our vision remains the same – enabling Climate Action with Data.

But, now we look to the larger business community and YOU to also start looking into climate action. The pandemic has also brought the climate crisis to the forefront - in terms of the physical and financial cost that it will yield in years to come. Although the umpteen sustainable startups pushing for steel straws and reusable cups have their heart in the right place, systemic change will drive the engine of innovation. And it will involve everyone- the public, businesses, government, students, farmers, data scientists, designers. So what are the systems we will create? Which enabling startups will we build so people can actualize their climate consciousness? What companies will you invest in? Which companies will attract capital?

If our vision motivates you, and if this blog has piqued your interest, then do get in touch with us here.