Public access to environmental information orpublic generated environmental information Muki Haklay, CEGE, UCL Source: iMP
Outline• The development of environmental information within the wider „environmental‟ theme• Three phases: – Experts access – Top-down delivery – Collaborative• Summary and future directions
The modern environmental movement 1987 – Montreal 1972 – 1962 – Silent 1970 – USA protocol, Stockholm Spring Earth Day Our Common Conference Future 2001 – 1992 - Rio 1997 – Kyoto 1998 – Aarhus Johannesburg Conference, Protocol convention Conference Agenda 21 (Rio + 10) 2005 – UK 2006 - An 2003 – Aarhus Environmental 2009 – inconvenient EU directives information Copenhagen truth regulations
Themes• Local pollution concern (Clean Air Act) to global issues (Climate change)• Developing vs. Developed world• Role of government and civic society – growing acceptance of stakeholders in decision making processes• From specific environmental concerns to sustainable development
US National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) ,1970• Technologies: environmental impact assessment, state of the environment report, CEQ.„…Each member shall be a person who, as a result of his training, experience, and attainments, is exceptionally well qualified to analyze and interpret environmental trends and information of all kinds…‟ (U.S. Congress, 1970, sec. 201)
Information in environmental decision making1972 Stockholm declaration, Principles 19 & 20 – differentiating between experts and the public: “It is also essential that mass media of communications … disseminates information of an educational nature on the need to protect and improve the environment” “In this connection, the free flow of up-to-date scientific information and transfer of experience must be supported and assisted, to facilitate the solution of environmental problems”
Information systems• 1972 – INFOTERRA – Mainframe based directory of environmental expertise, used by national nodes• 1982 – Global Resources Information Database – GRID – a global Geographical Information System with information about environmental conditions
The costs of environmental information• 1977 – Infoterra (5 years in development) ($1500 per query, which could be answered with good card library)• 1985 – Global Resources Information Database “for cost- effective telecommunication between GRID nodes, direct satellite links will clearly have to be established…” ($2000000 investment in 1985)
Phase I – 1970-1990• Deficit model• Top-down attitude to environmental decision making• Environmental information by experts, for experts
Rio - Principle 10 (1992)„Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.‟
Convention on Access to Information, PublicParticipation in Decision Making and Access to justicein Environmental Matters (UN/ECE,1998) „…Improved access to information and public participation in decision-making enhance the quality and the implementation of decisions, contribute to public awareness of environmental issues, give the public opportunity to express its concerns and enable public authorities to take due account of such concerns...‟ (P. 2). „…Each party shall ensure that environmental information progressively becomes available in electronic databases which are easily accessible to the public through public telecommunications networks...‟ (Article 3.3).
The assumptions behind Aarhus Public access to information Public is more aware of environmental issues and is able to participate in decision-makingPublic participation in environmental decision making provides legitimacy, improved decisions and environmental justice
Environmental TecnophiliaAgenda 21 - “National and international data and information centresshould set up continuous and accurate data-collection systems and makeuse of geographic information systems, expert systems, models and avariety of other techniques for the assessment and analysis of data.”"Using new electronic technologies can become a major tool in givingthe public easy, cheap, direct access to information that the authoritieshold. Using electronic means, in a sophisticated manner, is the answerto those countries fear that they cannot provide the necessarymanpower to respond to the needs of the public for information andparticipation in more bureaucratic manners." - John Hontelez, SGEuropean Environmental Bureau, Environment for Europe Conference,Aarhus, Denmark, June 1998.
Phase II – 1990 – 2000• Public access to environmental information is seen as a prerequisite to participation• The Web is emerging as a dissemination medium• Delivery is top-down, experts preparing information for the public
Issues with environmental informationdelivery• Use of jargon and technical terminology• Different semantic scale – from raw data to processed reports• Use of maps and GIS – but with an assumption that the user is familiar with the technology
Issues with environmental informationdelivery – web GIS• Many usability problems: – Scale – Cartography – Selection – Content – Semantics
The rise of citizen-science• Background: environmental inequalities / environmental justice• Mistrust in official sources or „this is not community information in community language‟• Alternative: local data collection
Archway• Archway is experiencing high volumes of traffic and there are local problems resulting from the major traffic node that is passing through the area. These are examples from the work that we have carried out with the Better Archway Forum
Perceptions and Issues MappingThese scans are part of a community survey of perceptions and issues
Identifying key issues Pedestrian Issues were identified as a problem that the community want to collect more information about
Archway PedestrianSurveys were carried outin collaboration withSpace Syntax whospecialised in pedestrianmovement analysis
Results of thesurvey wereused by thecommunity todiscuss futureplanningdirections Saturday 12:00 to 14:00500 to 700350 to 500200 to 350100 to 200 1 to 100 Space Syntax
Summary• Public access to environmental information evolves from authoritative, top-down to collaborative contribution• However, Access to environmental information must be seen as a band-aid, covering a serious problem in environmental decision making and environmental democracy.• Participation is not just about scientific and government information, it is also about local knowledge and understanding – and non-scientific arguments should be allowed in. But how?