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Digital Technology and the Natural Environment

September 20, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm



Prof. Gordon S. Blair, Head of Environmental Digital Strategy, UKCEH.


7:30pm – Presentation begins.
9:00pm – Event ends.


Contemporary digital technologies can make a profound impact on our understanding of the natural environment in moving toward sustainable futures. Examples of such technologies included sources of new data (e.g., an environmental Internet of Things), the ability to storage and process the large datasets that will result from this (e.g., through cloud computing), and the potential of data science and AI to make sense of these data alongside human experts.

However, these same trends pose a threat to sustainable futures through, for example, the carbon footprint of digital technology and the risks of this escalating through the very trends mentioned above.

This talk will explore this ‘tale of two cities’, reflecting on my experiences of my work at UKCEH where I explore the role of digital innovation in supporting contemporary environmental science, whilst also being aware of the potential negative impact of such technologies on the very environment we are seeking to understand and steer towards more sustainable futures.

The talk will conclude with thoughts on how these two perspectives can be reconciled in Digital Technology and the Natural Environment.

About the speaker

Prof. Gordon Blair

Prof. Gordon Blair is Head of Environmental Digital Strategy at UKCEH. He is also a Distinguished Professor of Distributed Systems at Lancaster University where he holds a part-time post (20%). He is also Co-Director of the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Data Science (CEEDS), a joint initiative between UKCEH and Lancaster University.

His current research interests focus on the role of digital technology in supporting environmental science. This includes new forms of environmental monitoring and data acquisition, including the role of Internet of Things technology, new forms of computational infrastructure to support the storage and processing of such data, specifically using cloud computing, and new forms of analysing and making sense of this data using data science and AI.

He is particularly interested in the role of virtual labs in supporting this end-to-end pipeline and in enabling a new kind of science that is more open, collaborative and integrative. Most recently, through CEEDS, he has become interested in the role of digital twins in supporting environmental science.

This all builds on a strong legacy of research in distributed systems, having been involved since the inception of the field in the early 1980s. His core research in this area focused on the middleware architectures that underpin complex distributed systems applications and services, including examination of key distributed properties such as interoperability and how these can be achieved in the complex and dynamic distributed systems of today.

Our events are for adults aged 16 years and over.

BCS is a membership organisation. If you enjoy this event, please consider joining BCS. You’ll be very welcome. You’ll receive access to many exclusive career development tools, an introduction to a thriving professional community and also help us Make IT Good For Society. Join BCS today

For overseas delegates who wish to attend the event, please note that BCS does not issue invitation letters.


BCS is following government guidelines and we would ask attendees to continue to also follow these guidelines. Please go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for more information, advice, and instructions.

This event is brought to you by: BCS Oxfordshire branch

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