£7 million project to provide access to wealth of environmental data

A £7 million project led by experts at The University of Manchester is to develop a pioneering digital hub, which will provide easy access to an extensive range of the UK’s environmental data.

It is hoped that this will provide insights which could help deliver a series of economic, societal, and environmental benefits across the UK. 

The Digital Solutions hub, funded by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) - part of the UK Research Innovation body - will provide access to a series of user-friendly toolkits for key decision makers across the public and private sector.

To create the hub, the team will bring together existing data from a broad range of partners, capturing information on key topics such as pollution, flooding, biodiversity, geology, carbon capture and environmental health. It will also collate economic, health and societal data from other reputable sources including the Office of National Statistics.

The insights the data can provide could help the government, local authorities, the NHS and industry to identify new opportunities and make informed decisions in key areas such as adaptations for climate change, reducing disaster risk and health and wellbeing improvements.

To ensure the hub meets the needs of both the public and private sector, the team will be working with a series of stakeholders including the Environment Agency, Defra, Natural England, SEPA, Natural Resources Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Climate Northern Ireland, Health and Safety Executive, NHS Digital, Public Health agencies and the Government Actuaries Department.

We are really excited to be embarking on this hugely important programme of work with NERC at a time when decisions about our natural and built environment are crucial to the future of the UK. This is a fantastic project which recognises the depth of expertise we have here at the university.
Professor Richard Kingston, project lead

“Over the next four years, our team will work with key decision makers across the public sector and industry to ensure they have access to data, which will enable a much greater understanding of environmental, social, economic and health matters," Richard added. "This will allow them to make informed decisions for the future and help them target investment in services and areas in a wide range of sectors including health, transport, urban and regional planning and utilities.”

“By providing easier access to NERC's environmental data a wide range of opportunities, from improving peoples' health to gaining a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on people, land and property across the UK will become easier.”

“NERC holds a unique and hugely significant treasure-trove of data, collated over many years by our funded scientists and institutes,” said Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC. “By combining this with data from other sources we will unlock new insights to support more informed decisions, changing communities for the better. As we host COP26 in Glasgow, this investment demonstrates how NERC funding is making a real-world impact on people and areas impacted by climate change and pollution.”

The Digital Solutions programme has received £7 million funding from NERC over 4 years. Researchers will also collaborate closely with the Universities of Cardiff, Exeter, Newcastle and Southampton, plus the Turing Institute, DAFNI, and the Connected Places Catapult.

Further details on the programme can be found at: https://nerc.ukri.org/innovation/activities/environmentaldata/digitalsolutions/

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