How technology can enable a vision as big as the Catholic Church

Understanding available assets is the first step to opening up new opportunities for innovation. Technology continually makes mapping of such assets easier at scale, putting critical data at our fingertips. And speaking of scale, the Catholic Church is one of the largest private landowners in the world. Recognizing the latent potential in this massive resource, Molly Burhans is leveraging new technology to map the land assets of the Catholic Church and create new ways to channel them for social good. Read more about her bold work in this article from The Boston Globe.

Using cutting-edge geographic information system software — GIS — she sought to make the first known map of the Roman Catholic Church across the world, beginning with diocesan boundaries and adding layer upon layer of data about the church and its social and environmental contexts.

The questions she hopes to answer are contemporary — and urgent: Which dioceses are likely to experience famine in the next quarter-century, and how can they prepare? Which will be inundated by rising sea levels, and how can they share ideas for what to do? How might the church channel its resources to fight deforestation or human trafficking?

Burhans believes her startup, GoodLands, can help harness the potential of the vast landholdings associated with the Catholic Church to advance Pope Francis’ agenda on social justice and the environment — maybe, even, to slow down climate change.