Tellus How - An exemplar approach for end-user innovation and follow up of major NERC environmental survey projects

Lead Research Organisation: British Geological Survey


TELLUS HOW builds on the NERC-funded Tellus South West and G-Base survey projects completed in 2013-14 in Cornwall and Devon. Using Tellus South West as an exemplar, TELLUS HOW will broaden stakeholder understanding, application and innovative use of NERC data, embed NERC research and data into end-user business processes, identify and communicate evidence of impact, and recommend clear pathways and mechanisms to enhance both the impact of future NERC environmental survey projects and the likelihood of future funding contributions from external partners and consortia.
The TELLUS HOW Delivery Partners comprise the NERC British Geological Survey (BGS), the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), and the University of Exeter Camborne School of Mines (CSM) and Research and Knowledge Transfer (RKT) departments.
The project is built around a series of secondments of Delivery Partners' staff to businesses and local government (the End User Partners) in the south west region:
Cornwall Council is the unitary authority for Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, with a wide range of regulatory and public service responsibilities for a population of over half a million people. Tellus How will assist the Council with aspirations and concerns in environmental management including natural and industrial heritage, health and wellbeing, and planning and regeneration. Best practices and lessons learned will be transferable to other local government organisations both regionally and nationally.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT), the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS) and Cornwall Environment Consultants Ltd (CEC), is a suite of close working SMEs and organisations seeking to support and protect wildlife and biodiversity improvement across Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and wider region. The secondments will assist CEC to strengthen or develop new services and help CWT / ERCCIS develop knowledge and capability that is exportable to other Wildlife Trusts, NGO's and records centres.
Treliver Minerals Ltd is a UK registered company (SME) with active involvement in exploration for tin and associated metals in south west England. Tellus HOW will assist the company with their exploration objectives through ground-truthing of Tellus data and understanding of underpinning controls on mineralisation.
Wardell Armstrong International is a mining engineering/environmental consultancy that services the industrial minerals sector from ten regional offices in the UK and international offices in Kazakhstan and Russia, with a staff complement close to 400. Tellus How secondments will assist the company develop new applications of Tellus type datasets for its international business including evaluation of spatial data modelling and visualisation tools.
3D Mine Surveying International Ltd is a Cornwall-based SME offering a range of services including infrastructure modelling, 3D design analysis, volumetric surveys, 3D visualisation, forensic analysis and hazardous condition surveys. 3DMSI already have advanced technical expertise in place to exploit TELLUS data, but intend through this project to work with other stakeholders and partners to explore new business opportunities and develop collaborative activity.
Each secondment will provide End Users with direct access to Delivery Partners' expertise and know-how in data interpretation, applications and management, and assist with integration of NERC data and knowledge into their business processes, information systems, toolsets and training programmes. Feedback to Delivery Partners and NERC will provide evidence and case studies of impact of NERC data and research, improved understanding of end users business needs, and guidance on specific user requirements for data delivery mechanisms, access and interpretation tools and associated skills requirements.
Keywords: Tellus, knowledge exchange, secondments, commercial, SMEs, local government

Planned Impact

While Tellus and G-BASE data have a wide and diverse range of scientific, environmental and technical applications, these may be either unfamiliar or inaccessible to many potential end users. To realise the value of these data and applications requires effective interaction, with scientific and technical experts working alongside end-users to understand their business requirements, day to day demands, constraints and priorities. There is a clear need to provide some technical and focussed support to help local end users identify business opportunities from the Tellus data as well as support in building skills and capabilities. This is of particular value to SME stakeholders who may lack the in-house resources to access, keep pace with and develop new technical and or science-led opportunities based on these datasets. There is also a need to upscale knowledge exchange to regional and national scale, to establish a wider understanding of the value of NERC environmental data and help local and regional enterprise partnerships attract national and European investments for innovative, science-led projects in the environment, resource, technology and human health sectors.

TELLUS HOW is therefore constructed around a series of secondments that provide end users with access to skilled scientists, technical know-how and interpretation tools to deliver business value from the data. TELLUS HOW:

Provides direct advice and hands-on guidance from scientific and technical experts on NERC data and research, helping the End User partners realise and develop potential applications; this is of particular value to SME partners who may not have the in-house resources to develop new technical and or science-led business opportunities based on these datasets;

Assists with evaluating and developing tools, software, information systems, data interoperability and methods to transform NERC data into 'business and policy ready' outcomes, and opportunities to provide new services to clients or existing services in more efficient ways;

Helps partners identify digital informatics opportunities including ways of exploiting new data in new ways for specific applications e.g. gamification, visualisations etc;

Enables partners to influence and provide future input to prioritisation, design and delivery of NERC environmental survey and monitoring projects to improve their alignment of NERC with individual business and sectoral needs and follow up wealth creation and environmental sustainability opportunities;

Encourages input to recommendations and best practices for improved delivery mechanisms for NERC data and science in the future;

Provides access to selected NERC value-added data, software, tools (under innovation or evaluation licence terms) and hardware (i.e. UoE Beowold Cluster, super computer) for the duration of the secondments, with access to associated technical and scientific expertise to make the most of these opportunities;

Provides mentoring and Continuing Professional Development opportunities for End-User Partners' staff (and for project secondees, see below), building local capacity and capability in the use, manipulation and management of big data;

Supports collaboration and business engagement between BGS, CEH, CSM and the wider community of end-users and stakeholders, encouraging a knowledge transfer 'ripple effect' to end users' partners and clients, encouraging take up and use of NERC data and science.


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Description Tellus HOW's primary purpose is innovation and knowledge exchange, funded from the NERC's innovation project fund in 2015-16. The project's primary purpose is to broaden impact of NERC environmental survey and data in SW England through a series of short secondments of NERC and University of Exeter scientists to local government, NGO and private sector partner organisations in the south west of England. The project is not intended to generated new research findings or discoveries but has produced a number of novel research-based tools to broaden application of NERC data. These include:

An archaeological site mapping tool that uses airborne Lidar data to identify heritage sites degraded by agricultural activities or concealed by tree cover.

A mapping tool that uses airborne Lidar data to produce a comprehensive map of hedgerow condition linked to biodiversity.

A new genetic fingerprinting method that determines microbial diversity in stream waters to provide an indicator of the degree of contamination by inorganic and organic contaminants.

A statistical tool that mashes up geological, geochemical and geophysical data to map areas of exploration potential for metal ores
Exploitation Route See Narrative Impact section.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Secondment Example 1, Cornwall Wildlife Trust. This secondment supplied GIS and data processing skills to exploit the Tellus South West LiDAR data for the Trust's environmental management and protection objectives. The LiDAR data was used to generate a 'canopy surface model'. Open source datasets were used to mask buildings, other human artefacts and woodland present in the canopy model. Hedgerows were then extracted to create a data product that contained the entire hedgerow network of Cornwall, classified by height values. This is the first comprehensive GIS map of a hedgerow network for any county or region of Britain. The data product provides a resource for environmental and development planning, ecological studies, and a baseline reference to measure future changes in hedgerow distribution. Secondment example 2, Cornwall Council. For two areas of interest, Tellus SW LiDAR data were reprocessed to produce enhanced digital terrain models, which help to better resolve evidence of mining activity beneath dense tree cover. Topographic descriptors, comprising slope, curvature, surface roughness and topographic position index, were also derived from the LiDAR data to aid the visual identification of archaeological features (e.g. earthworks) in the landscape. A semi-automated methodology for rapidly mapping burial mounds (barrows) across Cornwall from the LiDAR data was also developed. The techniques developed are used to efficiently improve the record of historic sites and monuments across Cornwall, and help to ensure that appropriate action is taken to preserve these features in the landscape. Secondment Example 3, Wolf Minerals. Drakelands Mine, operated by Wolf Minerals Limited, commenced production of tungsten (W) and tin (Sn) from the Hemerdon Deposit in autumn 2015. It represents the first 'new' metal mine to open in South West England for over 40 years and is presently one of only two mines outside China with the capacity to produce over 3000 tonnes per year of tungsten concentrate. Tungsten is a critical raw material due to its economic importance and supply risk. The ore body is hosted by the Hemerdon Granite and has been very-well defined by near-surface excavations and drilling to depths of almost 400 m below surface. However, the broader geological setting is poorly defined, partly because there has been no systematic geological re-survey of the adjacent area since the 1890s. The purpose of this secondment was to use Tellus South West data to provide an up-to-date geological context for Drakelands Mine and the immediately surrounding area in order to develop a framework in which to understand the processes that have come together to form this world-class mineral deposit. Secondment example 4, Wardell Armstrong International. The Tellus South West data provided a scenario testbed in which Wardell Armstrong could investigate different ways of using multi component environmental survey data for mineral exploration, remediation and the siting of wind/solar farms. The Tellus SW data was integrated, visualised and analysed in ArcGIS and GeoVisionary, and by using these software suites, it showed the potential of the Tellus SW datasets in the managing of the mine cycle or the impact of wind/solar farms siting studies and making it applicable to other areas of the UK and overseas. Secondment Example 5, South West Water. Rapid advancements in DNA sampling and sequencing have led to a set of new molecular screening and monitoring tools that can be integrated into environmental water quality analysis and river management plans. The Tellus SW dataset included analysis of river water and/or naturally grown riverine biofilms, often termed eDNA, and subsequent analysis of the whole DNA or specific genes therein. Organisms of all six biotic kingdoms were identified from eDNA samples and the analysis can therefore be designed to give insights into a host of different issues, including effects of polluting substances such as macronutrients, pesticides or pharmaceuticals, spread of antibiotic or antiviral resistance in the environment and the effect of one-off pollution events such as pesticide or mine spills.The monitoring of these communities combined with South West Water's routine water chemistry monitoring data allowed for early detection of changes in the normal functioning of the river as a consequence of changes in run-off or sewage effluent composition, with potential to inform river management strategies and incident responses. Secondment Example 6. 3D Mine Surveying International. This secondment assisted 3DMSI, a Cornwall based SME specialising in Mine Remediation Surveys and 3D visualisation of heritage site developments, to integrate their site specific terrestrial lidar survey data for individual development sites with the regional airborne Lidar data delivered by Tellus SW. This has created new opportunities for 3DMSI to diversify its business and provide a more integrated service both for clients and planners to assess visual and landscape impacts of development sites at feasibility study stage.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic