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30 October 2017

Our planet’s future is shared, so why isn’t our data?

Written by: Marianne Fekene, Account Executive at Edelman

Technology

We are seeing an increasing amount of extreme weather conditions and natural disasters globally and in the UK.

We have recently seen earthquakes in Italy, Tsunamis in Greece, and wildfires spreading through Portugal due to extreme draughts. In the UK severe weather from heatwaves, floods and hurricanes impacts our infrastructure, public safety, businesses, investments, agriculture and our homes.

These events have already exceeded what current models have predicted in terms of speed and severity of change, and our need to better understand and ultimately mitigate these events is becoming more urgent.

In 2017, non-for-profit Climate Bonds Initiative, predicted a $150 billion growth in the green bonds markets, signalling an impressive rise in investments in green projects and clean technologies to support this mitigation.

Progress can be seen in the energy and transport sectors. For the first time in the UK, energy from offshore wind will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power, and the recent ban of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 means our future is looking increasingly less polluted.

But beyond the infrastructure powering our homes or the engineering advances transforming our commutes to work, there is a huge potential to tap into climate data to better understand and communicate the risks and opportunities facing society in this area.

OASIS Hub (client), an initiative formed in 2015, uses data sharing between members to increase both availability and awareness around the data connected to natural disasters.

This type of data sharing comes with some obstacles and requires a general mindset shift. As Gavin Starks, Founder of Dgen network and Member of the Ministry of Justice Data, Evidence and Science Advisory Board, mentioned on the ‘Closing the Climate Protection Gap through Collaboration & Open Data’ panel at the launch of OASIS Hub, institutions and organisations are holding on to their data with the mindset that it is valuable IP that should be kept within their organisation, when in fact it is most valuable to both them and the wider society when shared.

If this data is shared, it means we can use ‘data for good’ to better assess and communicate the risks of these increasingly severe and occurring weather conditions and natural disasters.

When multiple institutions, organisations and universities share their data, anyone can access and understand the challenges we are facing, as well as encourage international collaboration across industries. Currently, this data is expensive, hard to access and not openly shared, limiting the way we can prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

As cliché as it sounds, when we can appreciate the benefits and opportunities data sharing and clean technologies can give us as a society, there is no need to be gloomy about our future. With more efficient and advanced data, technologies and a sharing economy, we can better future-proof our infrastructure, financial growth and the safety of our societies.

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