BIOME: Guiding Cameroon’s path towards renewable, carbon-neutral biofuels.

Thank you for taking the time to explore BIOME, the application we built for Hack for a Sustainable Future 2021.

Biome is the one stop shop for Policymakers and Business Investors and Entrepreneurs to both discover and make informed decisions on biomass production to both encourage and enable a future of renewable and carbon-neutral biofuels.

**IMPORTANT: Before accessing the Biome application website, you must first enable cross-origin requests. Please go to first and enable cross-origin requests.

What is Biomass??

Biomass is a renewable energy source coming from all types of organic material, including wood, agricultural crops, wastes, and even sewage. Biomass is used as an important fuel for activities such as heating and cooking and because it comes from naturally occurring organic materials, and it is considered one of the "cleanest" sources of energy on the planet.

When we began thinking of ideas for Hack for a Sustainable Future, we were inspired by three of the UN sustainable development goals: (1) Clean energy, (2) Innovation & Infrastructure, (3) Sustainable Communities.

Increasing biomass as source of energy for humans would achieve all three of above goals:

  1. Clean energy: biomass is a clean, renewable energy source because, when properly harvested, can net out the carbon emissions that are created when the fuel is used.
  2. Innovation & Infrastructure: the synergies around biomass production are prime for innovation. For example, rather than dumping municipal waste, we can utilize it as energy! Changing the way we look at wastes should unlock a litany of ways we can rethink investing in infrastructure and how we build our communities.
  3. Sustainable Communities: Finally, the investment in local, sustainable biomass production can also change infrastructure but also create economic opportunities. Rather than think of greenspaces as only for consumption, why not also think of them as energy centers? When communities are enabled to start producing their own source of fuels, it also lessens their reliance on outside (most likely fossil fuel) energy sources, and perhaps even give cheaper alternatives. Providing this clean, readily available energy source can literally bring electricity and power to areas that may not have had enough resources to access before.

So, what does Biome do?

Biome is our attempt at providing a solution that can reach all three of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: by encouraging clean biomass production by showcasing its tactical feasibility, investors and policymakers will be enabled to make the necessary infrastructure changes that will not only provide economic opportunities for their communities, but also create industries that are sustainable for the planet as well.

Our initial focus was looking at Cameroon, a country with a large amount of land and potential for biomass creation, that would stand to benefit greatly from creating its own energy source and new economic investments. In the future, we believe expanding Biome's data beyond Cameroon should be encouraged as more innovation and energy decision optimization can be made with expansion.

How do I use Biome?

Biome's targeted users are business investors/analysts and policymakers who are looking to make decision on biomass production planning. It is made up of four distinct parts:

  1. Explorer: Empowering business users to visually explore the land and the specified datasets with context and ease. Toggle key datasets on and off to understand where the ideal biomass production may happen.
  2. Biomass Planner: Model the optimal locations for biomass yields and supply chain optimizations. Go through a four step process to 1) Select Crop 2) Pick Harvest Areas 3) Model where Processing Facilities may be and 4) Consume the Results of the Model.
  3. Community Check-in: Dive deep into a specific locale of interest to measure its potential biomass yields in the context of its key demographics.
  4. Dataset Catalog: Surfacing curated datasets of all relevant factors including forest boundaries, electric grid information, and socioeconomic information for custom analyses inside or outside of Biome.

How was Biome built?

The application was bootstrapped with NextJS, TypeScript, and Ant Design.

We used several ArcGIS APIS & SDKs:

  • ArcGIS JS API: Client-based mapping experiences
  • ArcGIS REST APIs: Feature Services, Image Services, Geoprocessing
  • Premium Services: Geoenrichment, Closest Facility
  • Content: Basemaps, Living Atlas of the World Layers

Challenges we ran into

We had a small team.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The seamless integration of the Explorer, Biomass Planner, and Community Check-in truly reflect how we think both users of the application will use it, while also respecting the many different aspects and questions that can be asked of the data.

Specifically, utilizing the ArcGIS map services for different layer rendering for supply chain optimization felt very powerful to be able to unlock through Biome's Biomass Planner.

What we learned

We learned a lot about biomass planning.

What's next for Biome

Expanding the dataset and getting user feedback!

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