On Tuesday 14th July, Amanda Goodwin (Tevi Challenge Network Manager) joined The Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) South West Council to discuss the role of ‘big data’ in driving innovation and solving global challenges. To view the recording of the session, click here. 

Introducing big data: 

Big data refers to large datasets that can be analysed to extract trends, patterns, and associations. Big data has been described as high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that aid decision making and process automation. 

The generation of new data is exponentially increasing, resulting in the creation of enormous datasets. These data are predominately gathered through information-sensing mobile devices, which collects data passively in the form of ‘data footprints’ and from interactions with sensor-enabled objects.  

The role of big data in solving global challenges: 

Data provides the evidence that determines much of today’s decision making across all sectors and creates accountability for policy and action. The use of big data is well established within the private sector – with examples including consumer profiling, and personalised services in advertising and marketing. However, big data is used less frequently by NGOs, charities, and the public sector. Utilising big datasets, including satellite data, can allow more agile and efficient decision making based on empirical evidence in addressing global sustainability issues 

UN Sustainability Goals example: 

One excellent example of big data application within sustainability programmes is through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), where it enables accurate and inclusive recording of advancements in circular economies, sustainable resource allocation, environmental conservation, and many of the other SDGs.  

To best harness the possibilities of big data, the UN has developed Global Pulse, an innovation initiative that promotes awareness of the opportunities big data possesses. The platform generates analytics for the UN and governmental partners through a global network of data science innovation centres and works to reduce barriers of data accessibility and scaling.  

The data is taken from a variety of sources including satellite imagery, mobile phone data, data scraped from websites, smart meters, social media, health records, etc. to compile big datasets measuring the SDG indicators.  

Tevi’s contribution and collection of data: 

Tevi recognises the huge potential offered by big data in combating sustainable development and conservation challengesTfurther the possibilities of big data in this area we have created several solutions that gather and/or present environmental intelligence: 

Environmental Sensor Network: Understanding our natural environmental is essential when developing and monitoring conservation and resource efficiency initiatives. To help expand environmental intelligence in CIoS we are rolling out a network of sensors.  Many of these are based in businesses to help them measure, monitor and reduce their resource consumption. But the sensor network also includes wildlife cameras to monitor species and a communications network for these sensors to speak to each other using very low power. 

Environmental Intelligence Hub: Publicly accessible, Lagas, our environmental intelligence hub, presents data, maps and live streams. The aim of Lagas is to provide policy makers, researchers, business owners and the public with the information they need to ensure the successful delivery of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s Environmental Growth Strategy. Find out more: https://lagas.co.uk/ 

Circular Jobs Monitor: Circularity presents opportunities for local labour markets. To tap into this potential, it is vital to understand how many and which jobs are already contributing to the circular economy locally. Our Circular Jobs Monitor is an online tool that gathers and displays the amount and type of jobs that are part of the circular economy within CIoS. View the monitor here: http://jobsmonitor.circle-economy.com/province/24 

Circular Self-AssessmentThis tool allows businesses to understand which circular strategies their business excels against, and where the opportunities for improvement lie. Aggregated, this data can be analysed to support policy interventions to improve regional circularity, and to assess how CIoS businesses perform against other regions. Check out the tool here: http://tevi.circle-lab.com/