Bhutan’s first training on Google Earth Engine


The Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform is increasingly finding acceptance across academic, business, non-profit, and government users for scientific analysis and visualization of geospatial datasets in the region. Accordingly, ICIMOD supported the National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM), Royal Government of Bhutan, in organizing Bhutan’s first GEE training in June 2019. The five-day training involved 20 professionals from various government agencies in the country. 

ICIMOD – under its SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) Initiative – conducted the first training on the GEE platform in Nepal (more trainings have followed) in collaboration with the GEE outreach team. Trainings have also been conducted in Bangladesh. The GEE platform stores, organizes, and provides access to a wide variety of satellite imageries and geospatial datasets and offers global-scale environmental data analysis capabilities. In addition to the tools and cloud computational powers necessary to analyse large datasets, the platform offers application programme interfaces (APIs) in JavaScript and Python. Acknowledging the platform’s high-performance computing environment for processing large datasets and quick turn-around of analysis, the NCHM reached out to ICIMOD to collaborate on organizing a training workshop on GEE in Bhutan. 

The training in Bhutan provided an overview of the GEE platform and multiple datasets hosted on the platform. It included hands-on exercises on GEE JavaScript API for viewing, processing, and analysing Earth observation and geospatial datasets. The training also showcased different science applications such as the resource accounting tool and wheat mapping application being developed at ICIMOD that make use of the platform’s scalable cloud computing architecture and suite of datasets.

ICIMOD’s Sudip Pradhan, Programme Coordinator, Regional Database System (RDS) Initiative, delivered the training. Besides staff from the NCHM, professionals from the Department of Forests and Park Services of Bhutan (DoFPS), Department of Geology and Mines (DGM), Department of Hydropower and Power Systems (DHPS), National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS), and Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER) attended the workshop.

ICIMOD’s longstanding relationship with the NCHM led to the successful organization of the workshop as a collaboration between the NCHM and ICIMOD’s RDS Initiative. Part of ICIMOD’s Regional Programme on Mountain Environment Regional Information System (MENRIS), the Initiative manages the institution’s regional database system – a central data repository for different thematic areas in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. 

What is GEE?

Google Earth Engine (GEE) can be used for large and small-scale scientific analysis and visualization of geospatial datasets. It is widely used by researchers, non-profit organizations, educators, and governmental agencies to analyse large-scale geospatial data and is available free of cost for non-commercial users by signing up here.

ICIMOD’s Sudip Pradhan, Programme Coordinator for the Regional Database System (RDS) Initiative, delivered a training on the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform in Bhutan. The National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) in Bhutan hosted the training and facilitated the participation of professionals from various government agencies in Bhutan. (Photo: NCHM)
Participants use GEE's Code Editor to perform geospatial tasks. (Photo: Sudip Pradhan/ICIMOD)