The analysis of big data in the planning of regulatory activities of environmental authorities, including the area of compliance assurance is becoming increasingly important. Setting justifiable priorities and doing the right things on the basis of the outcomes of proper data analyses are crucial for the responsible organisation to work in an efficient and effective manner.
On 17 and 18 May, a group of 42 practitioners from 19 IMPEL member countries gathered in Utrecht, the Netherlands, for the occasion of the first IMPEL mini-conference on environmental data analytics, hosted by the Netherlands Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, in cooperation with the Province of Overijssel.
In particular, due attention was paid to potential broader follow-up of the topic in connection to future projects and activities of IMPEL. Several important aspects in connection to data analytics were addressed, like definitions, legal restrictions, quality considerations, predictive power, collaboration and partnerships, combination of data sets, and international exchange of data.
The participants shared the following notions:
- Most countries/organisations are just in the very beginning of trying to discover and understand the potential of working with big data and environmental data analytics.
- The challenges lie much more in the quality than the quantity of data. At the same time, absolute accuracy of data is not needed and impossible.
- Smart data analysts are needed, equipped with appropriate tools and infrastructure, and an ability to liaise with inspectors and other practitioners (and vice versa).
- A combination of data from different sources/institutions may generate additional insights and added value.
- Exchanging data across international borders is of special interest to IMPEL, but might be difficult in view of different regulatory systems and cultures.
- Gathering data is probably the easiest; producing a meaningful analysis is the next challenge.
- Using outcomes of environmental data analytics does not ban other/conventional approaches.
- Establish a group or platform within IMPEL with relevant experts (policy makers, domain experts, data scientist). The planned Knowledge Center of IMPEL is a potential basis for this.
- Prepare showcases how big data and data analytics can improve and help our work.
- Identify what type of approaches to the topic are used across the EU (e.g. open sources, text mining, remote sensing).
- Include the topic in the IMPEL Review Initiatives, to identify where countries/organisations stand when it comes to environmental data analytics.
- Organise more events on environmental data analytics and identify training needs on this subject.
For further information about the project, go to its project page.