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Data available today remain siloed, largely inaccessible to policymakers, the public, and the regulated community, creating a need for an integrated resource. These limitations impair environmental decision making and the ability to prevent public harm.

A new generation of data-driven environmental protection is needed to enable the development of more effective and more targeted policies and precise, pragmatic regulatory interventions. More comprehensive monitoring, analysis, and reporting incorporating existing data sets with hooks for future data resources – particularly as micro-sensing technologies, their networking potential, and citizen science mature – and could facilitate the next generation of environmental protection and energy policy.

Coupled with an ever more granular socio-environmental monitoring network, data science can be used to support regulatory activities and policymaking: predictive (forecasting), descriptive (data mining), and prescriptive (optimization and simulation), and enable continuous improvement. This would allow businesses to more effectively monitor their own environmental performance. In short – data science through the envisioned data resource can help deliver maximum effectiveness from resource-limited government programs. Such a network can lead to increased transparency, greater accountability, improved environmental performance and outcomes, and greater compliance with environmental protection regulations, and empower communities to take their own actions on energy and environmental issues.

A virtual environmental quality monitoring network would bring together rich, diverse, and more granular sources of environmental data, and through the application of systems engineering and data science techniques, inform and enable more effective, evidence-based, and protective environmental policies and business decisions by the regulated community, as well as inform the public of environmental conditions that affect them and their communities in new and compelling ways. Ultimately, the resulting data resource is envisioned as an accessible platform and application, a tool intended to better inform and improve policymaking, decision making, and environmental outcomes, and facilitate related research.

The Center for E3 is focusing initially on building a proof-of concept network in partnerships involving water quality in the Susquehanna River.  Initial project activities include building the network prototype by accessing available data sets:

Ongoing Center for E3 research will:

Other fields and industries are being transformed using data science, and the opportunity for environmental decision making holds no less potential.