Photo of dark clouds over a cityscape with a river in the foreground and boats in the middle ground. (CC-BY)

I tend to avoid posting bleak/doom-laden things as (a) there’s already a lot of that about, and (b) it doesn’t help bring us a sense of agency. The purpose of this post isn’t to increase panic or fear, but to call each of us to action—in whatever capacity we might have.

There are times where it’s important to remember why we’re working on things with such urgency, why (some) rules need to be broken, why we just don’t have time to keep discussing ‘if’ we should try a thing and just try it.

We desperately need our leaders to really…


Three reasons why you can’t ignore it anymore.

You can no longer build ‘ESG’ or ‘Climate’ as a category: it’s either a business target or your business will be a target.

A further 100+ conversations leads me to think that most businesses and investors are still being led by ‘business as usual’ thinking with ‘a bit of Net Zero’ on the side, rather than any form of systemic change.

As I’ve mentioned, physics doesn’t care about your politics (or profits). …


https://icebreakerone.org

The climate and data agendas are deeply linked.

Decarbonising our society will require systems that are automated, that balance resources (across energy, water, agriculture, transport and the built world) to maximise efficiency and reduce waste. Balancing our infrastructure means it will have to ‘self-heal’ — for example in a decentralised energy grid, if a local renewable source goes offline that’s powering a hospital (or, given vehicles will be electric, drive away), the lights need to stay on.

To enable this, we need to start sharing asset-level data (e.g. from sensors), ‘digital twins’, environmental and geospatial data (including earth observation data)…


Some reflections on climate action based on dozens of meetings I’ve been in recently.

‘Decision-makers’ (who are, believe it or not, just regular humans) ignore systemic and complex risks. I suspect this is a mix of denial anchored in climate grief — on top of our basic desires to have things ‘not change’ so we can try and live a normal life.

I wonder if our collective experience of Covid will enable us to feel that change is more possible, or whether we’ll end up more resistant to change as we try and hold on to a sense of control…


We take for granted that we can search a billion websites from around the world in under a second. The fact that we can do this is the result of a very specific architectural approach, one that is based on standards that have been adopted globally. The outcome is that connections can be made by any system that follows the rules, enabling billions of connections to be made on a continuous basis, unlocking vastly diverse applications.

This is a free-market, open, democratic approach that enables both commercial and non-commercial innovation.

Things like search engines exist as a direct consequence of…


Portion of machine floor, Pullman Industrial Complex [PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION, HAER, REPRODUCTION NUMBER IL-5]
Portion of machine floor, Pullman Industrial Complex [PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION, HAER, REPRODUCTION NUMBER IL-5]
Portion of machine floor, Pullman Industrial Complex [PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION, HAER, REPRODUCTION NUMBER IL-5]

Why don’t we pay for value in the way it is generated rather than using a legacy system that isn’t fit for purpose?

There must be a raft of research on this [citations welcome], but I’m constantly bewildered by the insistence of certain organisations that continue to ‘require’ hourly timesheets.

This is something I’ve felt for a long time but have been prompted to write after yet another ask from an organisation who is introducing hourly timesheet reporting as a process — in an innovation programme.

Provocation

Hour-based timesheets are a legacy of the industrial revolution when we were trying…


1. Design for search — the foundation for discovery and access

Data must be usable by machines, not just humans. Policies must mandate that data be machine-readable in order that it may be collected and used in an efficient manner.

As important is the ability to discover that the data exists, what it is, where it is from, and how it may be used. This ‘metadata’ is a priority to make available so that data may be found and information about it accessed. Policies must mandate the production of meta-data that will aid discovery.

This first priority is independent of the specifics of any taxonomy, ontology or other structural design. …


There is a lot of confusion about what the word ‘open’ means in relation to data, software, research, modelling (e.g. AI), analysis, markets and standards.

On this slide we show a number of different initiatives that are open, we detail some of the roles that they operate around, and how open applies to their approach.

‘Open’ what?

For example, Cambridge Zero, as a research institution, aggregates data, creates and uses software and models to carry out research and analysis. Commercial vendor, Planet, produces data from its satellites on earth observation and makes both data and analysis available to the market on an…


To bring more clarity to our journey towards a Shared Data infrastructure, we need to bring together a range of skills and expertise.

Understanding Data Sharing — a pragmatic approach to Governance

We can learn from previous decades of web development that ‘move fast and break things’ often leads us to … broken things.

Policy, regulation and governance is [often] slow to play catch up, but rather than beat up the regulators, we can look at how to best shorten the path between business and societal needs.

Working across the Data Spectrum, we can help to triage which areas are easy or hard based on user needs and where…

Gavin Starks

https://dgen.net || https://icebreakerone.org || Twitter: @agentGav // @icebreakerOne for climate+finance+data

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