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Natural History Museum to develop Data Ecosystem platform


Mark Say Managing Editor

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John Tweddle
Image source: John Tweddle from Natural History Musuem

The Natural History Museum (NHM) has unveiled plans for a new data platform to supports its work on biodiversity and the environment.

It said the move, under a partnership with Amazon Web Services, is aimed at bringing the relevant data together into place and will support the development of a digital twin and the monitoring of data from its Urban Nature Project (UNP).

NHM said the Data Ecosystem will be built on the AWS Cloud using the company’s technologies and with the support of consultancy and AWS partner Thoughtworks. It will be available to its 350 scientists and partner institutes in the UK.

This is expected to help researchers build a deeper understanding of the country’s urban biodiversity, its composition, how it relates to environmental conditions and how it responds to direct conservation action.

The data will cover subjects such as soil and atmospheric chemistry, noise pollution and wildlife. This will all feed into the creation of a digital twin representation of the UK’s biodiversity.

Revolutionising scientific work

Dr John Tweddle (pictured), head of the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity at NHM, said: “Working with AWS to develop the Data Ecosystem will revolutionise the scientific work we undertake at the Museum.

“The data will form an essential tool in unlocking new solutions to the planetary ecological emergency; from monitoring the UK’s wildlife to furthering science-informed nature recovery in our towns and cities.”

The new platform will also be used to support the Urban Nature Project, which involves transforming the museum’s five-acre site into a biologically diverse green space. This will be powered by AWS technology and provide onsite learning, an activity centre and ‘living galleries’ within which scientists will be able to develop and test new methods of monitoring and improving data.

A high spatial resolution sensor network, being built by NHM staff, will collect environmental and acoustic data within the space, adding to the evidence on the impacts that habitat creation, restoration and translocation have on urban wildlife.

The Data Ecosystem will also be used by individuals, community groups and schools to access and contribute to research under the Community and Citizen Science Programme.

Power for studying environment

Lucy Robinson, citizen science manager at NHM, said: “It has never been more critical to speed the pace at which local observations feed into world class research, and back into real action for the planet. Supported by the Data Ecosystem, our Community Science Programme puts power in the hands of people across the UK to study and protect the local environment they care about.”

NHM said development for the Data Ecosystem is underway, and the gardens are due to be open to the public in autumn 2023.


Extra information added on 4.10.22 pm.

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