Report Release: Building a Environmental Data Hub to Drive Innovation

We’re excited today to announce the publication of a report we completed as commission from the UK’s Digital Catapult into the challenges and opportunities for unlocking innovation using environmental data. The project consisted of in-depth data analysis, market research, technical feasibility due diligence and a 1/2 day stakeholder workshop including over 30 participant organisations. One of the most exciting findings was the actual validation of demand for more environmental data and the need to harmonise access around clear metadata to make it more easily useful. We were thrilled to have participation from so many organisations across a range of industries from technology start-ups to large insurance firms, public sector bodies to construction firms, and non-profits to funding organisations. See below for the entire report and read the Digital Catapult’s press release here.

We believe the better information flow will unlock the innovation needed to tackle the challenges environmental change and resource constraints are creating. We’re proud to lead this project and identify the key steps forward to realise that opportunity!  

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Executive Summary 

Environmental data is becoming a critical resource. Companies and governments increasingly need to understand the risks, impact, and opportunities for their organisations related to environmental resources. At the same time the growth of big data and associated technologies are lowering the barriers to making such data easily accessible and useful. This report summarises findings from a two-month scoping research project on the feasibility of creating a Environmental Data Hub to increase data access and foster business collaboration and innovation. 

The scoping project was funded and coordinated by Digital Catapult and implemented by AMEE from August to October 2014. During this time AMEE investigated three key areas to assess feasibility for the Environmental Data Hub: a) demand, b) data availability, and c) technical requirements. As an environmental data aggregator and creator AMEE was well positioned to conduct such research. To investigate these areas AMEE researched resources and activity across the internet, conducted online surveys, and hosted a stakeholder workshop with over 30 participants across industry, non-profits, and public sector. AMEE then synthesized research findings to recommend key steps forward for market introduction, technical development, and data collection priorities. 

We identified ample existing data resources, growing demand and stakeholder interest, and feasible technical solutions as factors supporting Hub development. We recommend initially focusing on open data with a select set of closed data to be made available using CKAN as the open source platform. However, we also identified several key challenges relating to market structures and market introduction. For an Environmental Data Hub to be successful it will need to collaborate with existing data repositories to add value, involve developers to demonstrate new value and potential, and have a focused scope with a clear impact mission to establish early traction with an engaged user base. Essentially a strong marketing focus on a clear mission combined with coordination across data partners will be critical success factors. 

Overall we were able to validate demand, confirm availability of feasible technical solutions, and identify relevant and useful data sets to recommend the development of the Environmental Data Hub. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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