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Digital technologies are fundamentally transforming every aspect of society. They offer significant opportunities for improving energy and business productivity and enhancing economic growth. Additionally, business platforms are recasting the way we communicate and interact with businesses, customers and friends. Hence, increasingly through the digitalisation of everything, we are becoming an Information Society, where data is the fundamental element. Accordingly, the greatest challenge for the first half of the 21st century is data – its generation, access, availability, discoverability and (re)usability – as it presents both a promise and a problem. However, while merely collecting lots of data presents comparatively few problems, extracting value and making timely decisions remains a challenge. Consequently, the under-utilisation of data for decision-making is a problem that has yet to be adequately addressed, and this is only going to get worse in the Internet of Things (IoT) era, where an explosion in the volume, velocity and variety of data is imminent, resulting in vast amounts of unexplored and under-utilised datasets.
Given this backdrop, environmental data presents a good case through which to study the issues concerned with data in the Informational society. Contemporary environmental problems are diffuse and global, and often challenge existing governance structures, that results from a fragmented approach to environmental regulations across media (air, water and air) and a discrepancy between the geographic scope of environmental issues, on the one hand, and the spatial jurisdiction of the organisations and departments responsible for their environmental management and governance, on the other.
While open data can potentially provide a solution for better environmental governance, by overcoming both the path dependency and jurisdictional boundaries of governments and their departments, the efficacy of open data remains undetermined. Consequently, a Shared Environmental Information System that provides an integrated and holistic view offers a better model for environmental governance.
About the speaker
Chacko Thomas is a PhD candidate at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). Chacko began as an Electrical Engineer and pursued his interest in energy and environment to complete a Masters in Energy Studies and Environmental Law. He is an experienced consultant and researcher in the field of energy and energy systems, environment and sustainability, climate change regulation and policy and carbon markets. Chacko has over a decade of experience providing consulting services in a wide range of sectors including mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, commercial buildings, and local, state and federal government departments.