Practices producing big data and biodiversity: the role of digital technologies in addressing environmental change in England

Authors: Louise Carver*, Birkbeck, University of London
Topics: Urban Geography, Environmental Science
Keywords: big data, biodiversity, England, conservation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon C1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The focus of this paper is on a large, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral research initiative using big data, Internet of things (IoT), and cloud computing to respond to and mitigate environmental change in England, with a particular focus on biodiversity governance. The digital technologies research initiative has the duel aims to achieve both a scientific paradigm shift enabled by computing and (big) data driven science as well as realising the potential for digital technology to influence environmental policy and governance. The relative youth of digital technologies in environmental governance means that empirical engagements with enactments of the approach, its long term implications or conservation outcomes remain limited. Detailed case studies are therefore important to remedy these gaps in the literature so as to better understand how big data for biodiversity conservation policy is assembled and deployed in practice. This paper responds to these lacunae in particular by presenting some preliminary findings from an ethnographic analysis of an environmental big data initiative in action. In particular, my empirical engagements trace the processes by which large and heterogenous data sets are assembled by a range of human and non-human actors and the ways in which the resultant and increasingly abstracted data ‘worlds’ are translated into policy strategies.

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