Smart Earth: A meta-review and implications for environmental governance

Authors: Max Ritts*, , Karen J Bakker, University of British Columbia
Topics: Environmental Science, Cyberinfrastructure, Environmental Perception
Keywords: governance; eco-informatic; Smart; environment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom III, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Environmental governance has the potential to undergo significant transformation in response to recent advances in ecological informatics and “Big Data”, including data-driven advances in low-cost sensors, cloud-based computing, infrastructures, and remote sensing tools. Scholars across the natural and social sciences have been engaged in analyses of scientific techniques and associated governance practices for some time now, yet many of these efforts operate in solitudes and fail to engage diverging claims and viewpoints. This paper presents a systematic meta-review and analysis of this expansive literature. First, we present a typology of Smart Earth technologies, across fields as diverse as conservation, climate mitigation, and sustainability standards organizations (SSOs). We frame this discussion in the context of the integrative architectures (such as DataOne and the National Ecological Observatory) which are being positioned as global frameworks for data coordination and integration. Next, we present a review of the literature on Smart Earth, covering the range of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, over the period 1997 to 2017. Building on this review, we identify key trends and concepts, which include data architecture systematization/integration; citizen science and citizen sensing; real-time regulation; and the evolution of eco-informatics. The penultimate section of the paper explores and critiques potential pathways for evolving environmental governance frameworks, including potential advances in eco-informatics and citizen sensing (as an ICT-enhanced modality of citizen science). The paper concludes by offering suggestions for future research directions and structured trans-disciplinary conversations about environmental governance in a Smart Earth world.

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