Natural Environment Research Council Publishes Digital Strategy 2021-2030

The research council’s first digital strategy sets out a vision for digitally enabled environmental science for over the next decade.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has published its first digital strategy, with the vision to ensure data and digital technologies are at the heart of current and future UK environmental science.

The strategy aims to ensure that all areas of environmental science are well-positioned to capitalise upon the transformative potential of data and digital technologies, building upon existing UK expertise in order to support research that is ambitious, adventurous and highly collaborative.

The strategy sets out the following seven themes spanning NERC’s work:

  • Next generation environmental sensing systems: supporting systems-based development of new environmental sensing technologies, integrating thinking about data use into new sensor deployment.
  • Enhancing NERC’s data services: ensuring NERC’s data can effectively be accessed and used in a secure, accessible and user-friendly format.
  • Computational resources for environmental science: ensuring that environmental scientists have the computational resources needed to advance their research.
  • Pioneering computational science: working in partnership to develop the modelling and computing of the future for the benefit of environmental science.
  • Data science tools and techniques: harnessing the potential of technologies such as AI and digital twinning for the benefit of environmental science.
  • Developing people and skills: supporting the skills needed to use digital technologies, for researchers at all levels, as well as technical professionals such as software engineers and data scientists.
  • Facilitating confidence and trust in data research: facilitating confidence and trust in data, modelling, and digital research across environmental science.

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC, said:

“Environmental science seeks to address hugely complex environmental challenges, from biodiversity to climate change, and our ability to do so will increasingly depend on our ability to use data and digital technologies effectively.

“NERC’s new digital strategy seeks to build on the UK’s rich and ever-growing environmental datasets, and our strengths in using in using this data to improve our understanding of the natural environment.”

NERC will develop a roadmap of actions in consultation with the natural environment community and key stakeholders to address the aspirations set out in the digital strategy. This will enable NERC to develop the key investments, partnerships, and culture change activities needed to deliver its strategic goals.

The strategy can be accessed in full at the NERC website.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)