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1 OpenForum 2003, Santa Fe Environment: Ecoinformatics – Track A 23 January, 2003 “Just-In-Time Environmental Information” David Stanners Head, Strategic.

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Presentation on theme: "1 OpenForum 2003, Santa Fe Environment: Ecoinformatics – Track A 23 January, 2003 “Just-In-Time Environmental Information” David Stanners Head, Strategic."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 OpenForum 2003, Santa Fe Environment: Ecoinformatics – Track A 23 January, 2003 “Just-In-Time Environmental Information” David Stanners Head, Strategic Development & International Cooperation European Environment Agency

2 2 “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T. S. Eliot ( ), The Rock

3 3 The challenge – find the link to eco- informatics & metadata registries! Unashamed focus on needs (content!) & policy (top- down approach) Assumption that any improved access to and use of information will rely on technological solutions and linking distributed data bases We need to construct our systems for the real and evolving new needs not for old ways of working So focus here on new ways of working as a context for technical discussions:  e.g. need for specialist and non-specialist glossaries….  First some story telling..…

4 4 “Just-in-time delivery comes to knowledge management” Davenport & Glaser, Harvard Business review July 2002 Bob Goldszer is associate chief medical office at a leading Boston hospital. He needs to know about 10,000 diseases, 3000 medications 1100 laboratory tests and 400,000 articles added to the literature each year. He works hard, but, although a Professor at Harvard, he cannot possibly absorb all this information. But now, for drug prescription and lab-test ordering, he uses a new system which automatically checks and alerts him to any patient allergies and new relevant research findings. …. by using this system, he can be sure that this vast store of information is being put to work to help support his decision making lowering the possibility of medical errors.

5 5 Parallels with EEA activities? The EEA aims to put information to work and to support decision making….. The EEA regulation mandates the Agency to provide objective information, necessary for framing, implementing, evaluating and assessing the results of sound and effective environmental policies….  So what are we doing for the “Bob Goldszers” of the environment field?  How are they being supported to reduce their decision errors?  more stories….

6 6 The peripatetic MEP Claudia Whitherspoon-Lisanti (real names disguised for privacy) is a Member of the European Parliament and member of the Environment committee. She has to give her opinion and argue her case on legislation proposed by the Commission on issues ranging from climate change, energy, transport and agriculture and the environment to waste packaging, water, air & soil pollution and GMOs. Committed to evidence-based policy making, she can’t possibly keep on top of all these issues. So she tries to use the EEA in her work. She finds the EEA reports colourful and interesting, and their website full of information, but she hardly ever finds the information she wants, when she wants it. In the next debate on the EEA’s budget she’s considering speaking against the proposed budget increase! She wants to redirect this money to support her evidence-based policy making.

7 7 The disappearing Corncrake Duncan McCracken works for the Scottish Executive and administers requests for support for EU agri-environment schemes in Scotland A farmer near Aberdeen on the West coast of Scotland wants to plant 100 acres of fields suitable for the fast disappearing Corncrake. Duncan, pleased with the initiative and keen to spend as much European money as possible in Scotland heartily approves. To get the file processed he passes it on to his young intern Chloe O’Brian, who has just completed a PhD on land use changes in the EU and a keen amateur ornithologist. Looking at the file she wryly observes that a Corncrake has not been seen within 150 miles of Aberdeen for 50 years!

8 8 Medical and Environmental professionals: am I stretching a point? There are differences, but also similarities Both work with high stakes concerning life & death, quality of life: but timing different immediate / long-term Medical is individual / environment is more societal Medical understanding and factual base strong & organised / environment dispersed & patchy and fraught with uncertainties In Medicine, the doctor makes the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis – the expert is the decision maker In Environment these activities are carried out by a chain of actors – the decision maker prescribing treatment is not the expert but a politician. For both medicine & environment there is a need to bring the latest knowledge to non-experts to support their decision making (beyond the Bob Goldszers)

9 9 A Proposition If we adopt JIT thinking across our work we will help steer choices in system design and prioritisation resulting in improved relevance and effectiveness. “We believe that this method could revolutionize knowledge management in the same way that ‘just-in- time’ systems revolutionized inventory management – and by following much the same philosophy.” Davenport & Glaser, 2002

10 10 Some characteristics of the problems knowledge workers face ( Davenport & Glaser, 2002) Knowledge workers: Must track massive amounts of complex information Impossible to keep up with latest research but need to to avoid mistakes and improve treatment Impossible to “recall”, integrate and link information at the right time

11 11 Some observations from the environment information field Policy makers are both overwhelmed by information and ignorant of it! Difficultly locating relevant information to answer their questions The environment decision making chain divorces decision makers from the knowledge workers Time cycle and speed of policy making do not match with the information provision cycle Environment is complex, value laden and involves many uncertainties (using the precautionary principle is in fact nothing new for the medical field)

12 12 What are the underlying issues here?  Delivering the right information to the person who wants it when they want it and focusing work on that  Developing and providing tools (including networks) to help knowledge workers get information JIT  Improve speed of data monitoring and information collection to be available JIT  Reduce the “warehouse expenses”, shifting work (and resources) to “housing” what’s needed  “Doing more with less” ?

13 13 Examples from the environment field in Europe Heavy burden on the data supplier (countries)  streamlining the data flows and overhauling the standardised reporting directive The cupboards and warehouses of “useless” information not being used  towards a common information system for all, moving away from dedicated reports Delivering interesting and aesthetically pleasing reports that are answering the wrong questions or issues  policy-question-based derivation of indicators and story-line approach

14 14 Some ideas from Davenport & Glaser to tackle similar issues Bake the specialised knowledge into the jobs of those who need it, into their tools (ideally so they don’t have to go and seek it out). Integrate both the latest information and/or the possibility to locate the needed information Start with well defined common operations in critical areas with a good knowledge base. Breakdown the information production system into separate parts to improve efficiency – and increase access and exposure (learn from Honda?) Make the systems responsive to feedback to improve quality (learn from Toyota?)

15 15 Some points of caution from Davenport & Glaser But beware: Develop with users – a “back room” IT group could never successfully build a suitable system. The higher the skill of the worker the harder it is to embed knowledge into their job. “Baking-in” is expensive and complex to implement technically and managerially – don’t undertake it unless its worth it!  Most solutions require the application and use of innovative technological solutions (enter eco- informatics!)

16 16 What does this thinking mean for the environmental field? Five proposals 1.Conceive, develop (and promote) a shared, integrated information system (the whole car not just data capsules) 2.Breakdown the information system into constructible parts to improve efficiency 3.Develop appropriate products & tools for the policy maker – “bake in” knowledge in the policy process (eg, RAINS, scenario analysis) 4.Make it easier for the “right” decisions to be made by the decision maker (businesses/SMEs, local authorities etc) 5.Encourage feedback and participation  All are based on a notion of the policy process…

17 17 Identifying the Issue Framing the Problem Shaping the Options Policy proposal to e.g. Council, EP Implementing and reviewing The Policy Cycle In the EU the Commission steers this process Slow but systematic preparation Patchy review and audit 6EAP aims to improve review and audit trail with ex-ante and ex-post analyses and SD impact assessment

18 18 1. Conceive, develop (and promote) a shared, integrated information system Since 2001, the EEA has identified and promoted this idea (main part of its strategy) to support the framing, implementation and assessment of environmental policy. Similar needs identified in countries and international organisations Working closely with UNEP and WHO to develop common approach

19 19 Shared EEIS information Elements of the shared European Environmental Information System International institutions National institutions Users Shared EIONET information Information Infrastructure EEA EIONET Decision makers, informed public, general public User access GMET, EDEN, shared tools Other Networks Other organisations

20 20 transparent information management Common validation and aggregation harmonised collection policy relevant assessments provide once use many Principles of Shared European Environment Information System (EEIS) Could we agree common principles internationally?

21 21 2. Breakdown the system into constructible parts to improve efficiency For a long time environment reporting tended to cover everything from the component design and manufacture to full assembly. This was because the parts available were not designed to fit so new ones had to be made each time. Once you understand what’s needed you can re-engineer your system and separate the processes.  But can we keep the “separate” processes working together?

22 22 “Indicator” Management Tool DATA HANDLING DATA COLLECTION National systems The 3 major processes inside our EEA business process. Each has a similar complexity with overlaps. The chain represents the current flow from right to left. Each process has a team behind it. All 3 have complete different clients/users and needs to do their work. PRODUCT DISSEMINATION EEA’s CURRENT BUSINESS PROCESS 1

23 23 “Indicator” Management Tool DATA HANDLING DATA COLLECTION National systems Here the interest is to develop the data collection area to ensure that the chain of data flow over the whole MDIAK process works. PRODUCT DISSEMINATION FLOW EEA’s CURRENT BUSINESS PROCESS 2

24 24 DATA HANDLING DATA COLLECTION Data flow is interesting to all 3 business processes. Each process will have different wishes and needs in how to use these relationships. Such functionalities are going to be developed in each process separately because they know their clients – can they be kept compatible? PRODUCT DISSEMINATION FLOW ? ? ? “Indicator” Management Tool National systems EEA’s CURRENT BUSINESS PROCESS 3

25 25 Information Pyramid Knowledge Assessment Indicators Data Monitoring Bottom-upTop-down Indicator management, Factsheets Integrated environmental assessment Guidelines, manuals, repositories DEMs Databases, data warehouses Access, dissemination, GEMET, EDEN Frameworks Reports Priority dataflows Core set of indicators Snapshot signals Major integrated assessments

26 26 Benefits of unpacking Unpacking the processes helps to release blockages in the assembly line and release resources. You can only do this though when you know how the whole works and for environment this will always only be partially true (its not a technology!) Given the uncertainties need to keep control of the whole process and respond to feedbacks.

27 27 3. Develop appropriate products & tools for the policy maker Policy makers here mean ministers or parliamentarians and their senior advisors Policy makers often shut themselves away to frame their policy issues and come to a decision The chain of knowledge experts need to provide inputs into the system to help minimise “mistakes” “Bake in” knowledge in the policy making process: – the RAINS model – Scenario analysis

28 28 The RAINS model exceedances maps baking in geological information for target setting N-critical load exceedance

29 29 Scenario analysis Purpose: In the policy framing and development process:  to help foresee “unintended consequences”  to support the identification of alternatives visions and options  to encourage new thinking “out of the box”. In the policy implementation & review stages to support:  prospective trends analysis  identification of bifurcations  possible weaknesses in existing policies. Examples: – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – World Water Commission

30 30 Design tools for policy makers tasks Using modelling and scenario analysis on policy makers problems in their decision making processes you can “bake in” existing knowledge and allow exploration of alternatives within known constraints. This gives everyone greater confidence in the process and improves transparency and participation.

31 31 4. Make it easier for the “right” decisions to be made by the decision maker Decision makers here mean the “doers” in society such as businesses/SMEs, local authorities, householders They are trying to run their lives, run businesses, local authorities They have to follow hard laws and regulations, but also… Many try to follow environmental-friendly options & best practice but it’s not always easy…. It is in the interest of the policy maker and the knowledge specialists to help them.

32 32 How to “bake in” knowledge in the decision making process Information portals – eg, EEA’s EnviroWindows Intelligent query systems operating with distributed databases – eg, EDEN project “Baking in” knowledge in the marketplace

33 33 An information portal: Sustainable tourism interactive portal

34 34 Portals and continuous information provision Improve harmonization by eliciting information sharing of existing voluntary schemes Provide platforms for discussions and participatory methods Updating web based repositories on minimum requirements, exposing data and processes for indicators Allow comparability among environmental performance of products and services Spread positive experiences on eco-efficient solutions

35 35 Intelligent query systems EDEN: an EPA and EEA project Solving environmental problems requires integration of data, information and knowledge from a multitude of sources and from different networks. The idea of developing EDEN started at the first meeting between the EEA and EPA in Washington in EDEN allows to query multiple databases providing answers tailored to different user types such as: Citizen, Regulator, Scientist, Site Manager. EDEN first focused on Hazardous Waste databases and was financed by US government agencies: the EEA provided data.

36 36 Intelligent query systems EDEN: an EPA and EEA project EDEN is now dealing with Inland Water databases and financed by the EU commission: EPA is participating as user of project resultsEDEN is now dealing with Inland Water databases EDEN attempts to go beyond homepages on remote data access, to be scalable, to tie diverse data sources to each other, to access heterogeneous environmental data, and to facilitate the work of professionals in multiple sectors.

37 37 “Baking in” knowledge in the marketplace Examples – voluntary regimes and agreements – environmental management systems, – labeling – prices – “good” subsidies  From mandatory to voluntary actions

38 38 Compliance with mandatory requirements Public Voluntary schemes Negotiated Agreements International Environmental Standards Corporate Environmental Management Technology and process selection Household consumptive choices Individual personal decisions From mandatory to voluntary actions From Government To Private

39 39 No Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Compliance Only Financial Bottom line Corporate Environmental Policy EMS Unstructured Reporting or information on compliance issues Corporate Environmental Management (CEM) on production processes Corporate Environmental Reports (CER) not conformant with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Unidirectional communication with stakeholders CEM extended to personnel and purchasing Assignment of responsibilities CER more comprehensive not GRI conformant Use of telecommunicatio n and information systems for linking with agencies, citizens, suppliers, etc. CEM fully integrated with Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Cost accounting of externalities Auditing CER on triple button lines, S&H, and ethical issues – GRI conformant Interactive stakeholder engagement Participatory approaches to environmental decisions Evolution of Corporate Environmental Management Time Scope level of participation Increasing “baking in”

40 40 5. Encourage feedback and participation Make information accessible – exposing information improves quality Develop participatory processes throughout the policy cycle linking policy makers, decision makers, scientists etc (users, “doers” and the public). Improve responsiveness to feedback –

41 41 Identifying the Issue Framing the Problem Shaping the Options Policy proposal to e.g. Council, EP Implementing and reviewing European Commission Experts Interested Parties The Policy process considers the views and inputs of The (Public) Policy Cycle

42 42 These were the five proposals to promote Just-in-time environmental information 1.Conceive, develop (and promote) a shared, integrated information system (the whole car not just data capsules) 2.Breakdown the information system into constructible parts to improve efficiency 3.Develop appropriate products & tools for the policy maker – “bake in” knowledge in the policy process (eg, RAINS, scenario analysis) 4.Make it easier for the “right” decisions to be made by the decision maker (businesses/SMEs, local authorities etc) 5.Encourage feedback and participation  All have technological demands, imply integration of diverse information, and thus increase need for appropriate meta-data.

43 43 A last point on the Precautionary Principle …….which is a principle concerning how to use scientific information for public policy making (especially when there are large uncertainties and the stakes are high) recognising the contribution and limits of science. We have a paradox – if we are successful with all of the above we may still not be any better off…. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T. S. Eliot ( ), The Rock

44 44 Measuring is Not Knowing: The Marine Environment and the Precautionary Principle ‘The enormous number of papers in the marine environment means that huge amounts of data are available, but …we have reached a sort of plateau in …the understanding of what the information is telling us …. We… seem not to be able to do very much about it or with it. This is what led to the precautionary principle, after all – we do not know whether, in our studied ecosystem, a loss of diversity would matter, and it might’. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol 34, No. 9, pp , 1997

45 45 Aim: To help encourage the use of better information for wiser decision making ‘…my most fundamental objective is to urge a change in the perception and evaluation of familiar data’ Thomas S. Kuhn ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, 1962 Late lessons from Early Warnings: the Precautionary Principle ’ EEA (2002)

46 46 Some summary observations from “Late lessons” Need to use a variety of ‘knowledges’ (many scientific disciplines, ‘lay’ and ‘local’ knowledge) to help maximise understanding and detect/anticipate some “surprises” Produce more integrated and structured knowledge to address key policy questions and policy decisions Give equal access to information Ensure transparency of knowledge-creation and use Establish long-term environmental and health monitoring and better dissemination of research results so that evidence of the ‘surprise’ emerges earlier Use participative scenarios to help foresee some ‘unintended consequences.’  these all concern improving Just-in-time information

47 47 The Need for Comprehensive and Integrated Approaches to Framing, Identifying and Evaluating Environmental and Health Hazards: an early US Recommendation. Conference of Experts, Woods Hole, Mass., USA, August 15-18, 1962 “…it is evident that optimisation of natural resources for human use and welfare cannot be achieved by fragmentary and sporadic attention to isolated parts of the problem, but that the issues involved must be made the subject of a permanent and systematic process of investigation, recording and evaluation, carried on continuously in reference to the total perspective…”

48 48 The Need For an Independent Intelligence Agency for Environmental Issues: an early US Recommendation (1962) Conference of Experts, Woods Hole, Mass, USA, August 15-18, 1962 “In view of the ever-increasing rate of man-made alterations, with their ever-widening circle of sequelae, an intelligence agency of broad scope would have to cultivate the highest degrees of perceptiveness and sensitivity so as to be able to feel the pulse of the ecosystem, and to register and address incipient developments before they have reached critical dimensions. These diagnoses would then serve as guides for action programs, precautionary measures and the exploration of alternative courses.”

49 49 “Science, like life in general, is continuously forgetting and rediscovering old truths” Brody, 1945

50 50 EEA European Environment Agency Copenhagen · Denmark


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