Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Constructing a digital environment

This programme aims to develop the digitally enabled environment by creating an integrated network of sensors, methodologies and tools for assessing, analysing, monitoring and forecasting the state of the natural environment at higher spatial resolutions and frequency than previously possible.

Budget:
£10.4 million
Duration:
2018 to 2022
Partners involved:
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

The scope and what we're doing

This Constructing a Digital Environment programme aims to develop the digitally enabled environment which benefits policymakers, businesses, communities and individuals. This is happening by creating an integrated network of sensors (in situ and through remote sensing), methodologies and tools for assessing, analysing, monitoring and forecasting the state of the natural environment.

This is being done at higher spatial resolutions and at higher frequency than previously possible. This will support responses to acute events and inform our understanding of long-term environmental change. Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and innovation aids in the successful construction of a digital environment.

Why we're doing it

Workshops on environmental infrastructure highlight requirements for observation, simulation and data infrastructure. This includes the desire for distributed networks of environmental sensors, additional forms of autonomous data collection, a cyber-secure infrastructure, and citizen science. As part of its ambition for increasing data integration across its own environmental data centres, NERC has already funded a study which highlighted needs from the business community for new multidisciplinary data products, including those using environmental sensor technology.

Advances in digital technology have led to a rapid increase in the volume of data being captured, curated and managed on a daily basis. Alongside this, new technologies have enabled a step change in global capacity for integrated monitoring, analysis, modelling and visualisation of the natural environment at potentially transformative spatial and temporal scales. This could be used more efficiently to inform policymaking and benefit businesses, communities and individuals.

By harnessing these advances in technology and the UK’s leading position in both environmental, observational, and computer and data sciences, there is an opportunity to create a digitally enabled environment. This is being done through more integrated networks of sensors (in situ and through remote sensing), together with methodologies and tools for assessing, analysing, monitoring and forecasting the state of the natural environment at higher spatial resolutions and finer temporal scales than previously possible.

As such a digital environment will deliver the capacity to improve the understanding and modelling of longer term environmental change and the prediction of events. This will benefit a range of public and private sector users, and provide evidence to support both decision-making and operational activities within government departments and arm’s length bodies.

Opportunities, support and resources available

No further funding opportunities available.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Who to contact

Digital environment

Email: digitalenvironment@nerc.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

Constructing a Digital Environment is a Strategic Priorities Fund Wave 1 programme led by NERC and supported by EPSRC and Defra.

Alongside a programme board and steering group, the programme has a number of parts:

  • champions who oversee the programme
  • an expert network who are managed by the champions and run a variety of activities in the digital environment, including webinars, digital trails and horizon scanning exercises
  • funded feasibility studies
  • demonstrators.

Programme champions

The programme has two co-champions from Cranfield University:

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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