Open KE Fellowship - MEDIATE: Overcoming barriers to MaximisE Data potential for better blue-green-grey InfrAsTructurE

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences


Data underpins our business and economy and can be collected by everything and everyone from lampposts to professors. By sharing these datasets between public and private sector organisations and businesses it is possible to generate significant extra socio-economic benefits for the UK economy and its citizens. This is particularly true for infrastructure owners and operators who collect similar datasets (e.g. meteorological data) and face similar 21st Century challenges and opportunities. Better knowledge exchange and data-sharing between these separate businesses and organisations can: improve operational procedures; drive new solutions; and foster joined up response to common environmental problems such as air quality, extreme weather events or longer-term climatic change.

A cross-disciplinary approach is also crucial to limit cascade failures and build resilience across the infrastructure system as a whole. For example, a failure in the electricity network could impact the transport sector by stopping electrified trains or causing black-outs along streets or motorway. Or a dam failure could flood the nearby road and railway line. Cascade failures are particularly disruptive in urban areas which have a high population density and critical infrastructure like railway stations or energy substations.

Considering blue and green infrastructure is also vital for whole systems approach. For example, flooding and vegetation (leaves on the line, debris following high winds) often cause disruption for operators such as Network Rail; in urban areas vegetation aids storm water management by increasing infiltration and reducing run-off into urban sewers. Trees can 'scrub' the atmosphere and improve air quality and psychological well-being for inhabitants.
Although data-sharing across the infrastructure sector is clearly advantageous, in practice a range of different barriers can stop this from happening. This KE Fellowship (MEDIATE) will demonstrate the added value that intelligent data-sharing can bring. It has two work programs with two different groups of non-academic partners who are not maximising the potential of their existing datasets for a range of different reasons. Overcoming the barriers to sharing their datasets will generate socio-economic benefits as outlined below.

Work Program One focuses on green and blue infrastructure and will facilitate the creation of a scientific evidence base and new network to support Birmingham City Council's Natural Health Improvement Zones. MEDIATE will initiate the development of the evidence base, and set-up a network to maintain it long-term. This will have impact at local-scale by: providing the evidence base necessary to inform blue-green planning, ultimately to improve air quality and citizen health; and, at national and international scales by providing a case study of how to evaluate blue-green improvement schemes.

Work Program Two focuses on the grey infrastructure and will facilitate cross-disciplinary data-sharing between infrastructure providers and the research community. MEDIATE will: use a pilot study with Network Rail (NR) to explore and overcome barriers to data-sharing then use this knowledge to expand the study across the infrastructure sector. This will have impact at local-scale by: improving the NR evidence base for meteorological/climatological decision-making; and at national and international scales by clearly articulating data gaps to NERC, and improving the sector-wide evidence base to facilitate a whole systems approach to weather and climate resilience.

There is no better time to facilitate data sharing; 90% of the world's data has been generated in the last two years. The MEDIATE project will help business and organisations in the ERII community and more widely across the infrastructure sector to maximise the potential of their datasets to generate significant wealth for the UK economy and invaluable social benefits for its citizens.


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Description Birmingham City Council 
Organisation Birmingham City Council
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I work closely with the climate change and sustainability manager to develop collaborative projects between the city council and the university. Recently we met with the Ordnance Survey in an advisory role to discuss geospatial datasets for the new OS Green Space Product under development to support several cross government policy initiatives (e.g. access to nature, valuing natural capital (Defra); role of trees in ameliorating air pollution (Defra/DfT); physical/mental well-being (Public Health).
Collaborator Contribution The Council provide the link to non-academic organisations, such as the ordnance survey, consultancies, other local authorities. They are currently pulling together partners for a green infrastructure scoping study. The partners will provide the green infrastructure. The UoB will undertake the measurements to provide the scientific evidence base for the impact of the green infrastructure development. The is a developing partnership.
Impact No outputs as yet - this is a partnership developing new opportunities and collaborations.
Start Year 2015
Description Trees and Design Action Group 
Organisation Trees and Design Action Group
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution In 2016 I became the Midlands facilitator for the Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG), with a remit to grow the size and influence of the Midlands network. TDAG connects individuals and public and private sector organisations to assert the important role of green infrastructure in the built environment.I organise the 2-monthly meetings, and arange an external speaker to come and present. I also organised a joint event with the RTPI on the subject of grteen infrastructure and health that over 60 people atteneed. I am building a strong network in the Midlands that will prove a useful pathway for knowledge exchange between a range of stakeholders.
Collaborator Contribution The TDAG network includes very useful stakeholders for research co-creation and public engagement. The TDAG trustees in London support and encourage the growth of the Midlands group, in particular is strong links to to academic research.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2016