My name is Markus Enenkel. Many people call me Maggo, which sounds strange if you don’t pronounce it like a French(wo)man. Even more miss the second “n” in my surname, creating an uneasy resemblance to the german word for disgust (= Ekel) or paving the way for lame Star Wars jokes (Enekel Skywalker). I prefer the latter.

The plan to follow my brother’s footsteps as an orthopaedic surgeon died halfway through the first semester. Surprisingly, also my career as a rock guitarist never really took off. However, a few years later, I felt the urge to try to contribute at least a small piece to equality in a world that is governed by its opposite. Gradually, I realized that being a white, male European gave me privileges that most people couldn’t even dream of. Without a doubt I am a nerd, but one who really cares about the use of technology in the context of climate and development, anticipatory action and financing, and technical capacity building. People working in the data universe often do not understand user requirements well. Decision-makers often do not know how to ask the ‘right’ questions when it comes to technology, methods and data. Breaking down silos is a lot easier said than done, but I learned a lot by bumping my head against all kinds of walls. It would be a shame not to share what I’ve learned, because some of the stories are actually quite funny.

I’m trying to contribute to making the world a better place. Baby steps. Possibly microscopic. Depending on who you are you might sympathise with different perspectives of my work. So, in short, if you’re reading this as:

An earth observation aficionado: We might agree that the true power of earth observation lies in combining it with data about the human terrain. Satellites are our eyes. Ground stations are our nerves. Translating data into knowledge is our brain. Advanced methods are promising in many areas, but equally concerned about black boxes as about the perception of transparent analytics as black boxes due to insufficient knowledge transfer, different jargons or mindsets.

A disaster risk financing specialist: Let’s chat about basis risk, about the last mile between triggering financial instruments and supporting people in need, about translating hazard data into impact estimates via vulnerability layers and about strengthening local risk ownership to replace or complement international top-down approaches. 

A climate prediction expert: What if we used seasonal climate predictions not only in the context of forecast/impact-based forecasting, but to trigger socioeconomic data collection? Even if the forecast is wrong, we’d get data that we need in any case. If it’s right we understand the needs of communities at risk to distribute cash or other resources, saving time and avoiding stress. No risk of failure.  

A humanitarian: Let’s work on approaches to incentivize truthful self-reporting of people in need, to better integrate them into feedback loops with data scientists, model developers and aid mechanisms, and to give them a voice with existing technology. 

A climate change denier: I’m all ears. Please tell me more about the layman theory that you and your two laymen friends developed. Maybe all of the world’s serious climate scientists indeed missed something substantial during the recent decades and global warming is actually a hoax. 

My mom: Yes, satellites to help people. No, No dangerous places. Yes, enough sleep and very health food. 

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