Sustainability and the climate change emergency

Notes from an event at the Royal Geographical Society, 9 October 2019. Using data to build public and decision-maker awareness of climate change. (My sense was actually that the event showed that stories are more powerful than data in getting people to care about this kind of thing)

Sophie Adams, Ofgem

Ofgem is working to decarbonise the energy system.

They’ve been working to make their data machine readable. They’ll then publish it on their data hub, through the Energy Data Exchange.

They’re taking in information from the Met Office and matching it up with price changes over time, to see the impact that weather has on energy prices.

17-18 Jan 2020 – Ofgem and valtech will co-host a hackathon on visualising environmental data. It’ll ask questions like “How could we decarbonise the UK in 5 years?”

Jo Judge, National Biodiversity Network

They get data in lots of different formats. Converting this into something consistent and usable is a challenge. Encouraging people to use this biodiversity data also takes work. Their State of Nature report visualises and summarises some of this data.

Philip Taylor, Open Seas

Mapping cod volumes and fishing locations over time, using publicly-available data, provokes conversations about management about this resource. (Of course I disagree with this conception of these creatures as a resource.)

Open Seas tries to take data and turn it into public awareness and better decision-making. They also use data to spot illegal fishing.

Using boat beacon data along with geospatial data on protected areas to spot boats that have fished illegally.

Chris Jarvis, Environment Agency

The Environment Agency use data to create UK Climate Projections, looking at the impact that change will have on weather. They’re working on linked data to allow their datasets to be built up in useful ways.

We used to think about flood defence. That’s not viable any more – we now think about resilience. The Environment Agency want to build a “nation of climate change champions” – people who know what’s happening, the risks and impact on them and what they can do.

2/3 of the 5m million people whose homes are at risk of flooding are unaware.

The Environment Agency are great at flood forecasting. Data collected up to every 15 minutes. They collect this over time, and make this over time.

This data is available through API. There’s information on hydrology and flood monitoring, including flood areas.

Aside: The Met Office’s data might also be interesting and useful. Information on their products and hourly site-specific observations.

Ben Rewis, Save the Waves

Dirty Wave challenge – crowdsourced data on dirty beaches, with an incentive to take action.

Users take a photo, tag it to their geolocation, and classify the type of problem that it relates to.

Advice for January hackathon: convene a set of people with shared values. Use technology to add value in some way. Get standards to encourage reuse and interoperability. Connect shared communities to a bigger picture. You might either get people to passively add data, or to interrogate, curate and work with what is already there.