Unlocking the potential of sensors for our environment : a call to action from a NERC writing retreat

Bagshaw, L.; Bee, E.; Bhowmik, D.; Bridle, H.; Chan, K.; England, P.; Gaura, E.; Halford, A.; Lynch, I.; Maniatis, G.; Martin, P.; Mao, F.; Mukherjee, K.; Naylor, M.; Novellino, A.; Oren, N.; Pope, F.; Schaap, A.; Watson, C.; Van De Wiel, M.; Yuksel Ripley, B.. 2024 Unlocking the potential of sensors for our environment : a call to action from a NERC writing retreat. Coventry University, 36pp. (Unpublished)

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Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Constructing a Digital Environment Strategic Priorities Fund (CDE) programme aspired to support the development of a comprehensive ‘digital environment’ ecosystem that best served scientists, policymakers, businesses, and communities. Emphasising multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary collaboration, CDE supported a team of challenge-focused researchers from a variety of disciplines to bring to the fore current and future digital advances in sensors that are critical to addressing environmental concerns. From March 2023 to January 2024, the team worked together to develop frameworks that sought to optimise the benefits of both existing and emerging sensor network technologies and their related infrastructure. Central to the development of these frameworks was a co-creation writing retreat in July 2023, where we came together to discuss the environmental sensing ecosystems unmet needs and challenges around five themes: Values, Changes, Barriers, Tools, and Lessons. The resultant findings and call for action suggest that: A. Focusing on People, Places and Ethics when making decisions on the whole sensor systems lifecycle (sensor design, deployment, application, and uptake) can ensure that research is more holistic, relevant, ethically sound, innovative, and, at the same time, has the potential for real-world impact. B. There is a clear need for a better-enabled sensor ‘development and use’ ecosystem (i.e., frameworks, methodologies, designs, communities) that has strong foundations and support for collaborative and interdisciplinary research to drive ambition for responsible innovation and resilient research communities. Overall, the findings highlight the vast potential offered by increased sensor utilisation for science and society, as well as broader concerns around data practices and innovation and specific challenges to sensors and sensing for the environment. There is a greater need for responsible data sharing, standardisation and quality assurance, as well as enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge transfer between academia and industry. Furthermore, sector-specific barriers to recruitment and retention (particularly from those traditionally underrepresented in the sector) need to be addressed if transformative research is to be delivered and sustainable ecosystems that are diverse and inclusive are to be created.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Funders/Sponsors: Coventry University, Natural Environment Research Council
Date made live: 12 Apr 2024 16:07 +0 (UTC)

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