DataJam North East: Virtual Event Series – #2 Environment

engineer turbine

The second virtual DataJam Event featured eight speakers, who led talks and discussion on the theme of Environment Data with attendees from 24 organisations across the region.

DataJam virtual event series

The current global pandemic has accentuated the need to increase and improve data sharing and data analysis skills across the public and private sectors and demonstrated the value in collaboration and community – something our region does very well.

DataJam North East aims to bring people together with a variety of backgrounds from across the public and private sectors to talk about how data and service design can be used to solve real problems that are affecting people in our region.

Around this time of year, DataJam would usually be running a series of face-to-face events including the DataJam conference - an annual event first held in 2018 - which has had great success in producing tangible outcomes and funded projects for our region.

The DataJam series is supported by the National Innovation Centre for Data and the Analyst Network North East

Highlights from previous conferences 

View highlights from previous conferences here:

Virtual events 

Although we are not able to hold a physical conference at the new Catalyst Building on the Newcastle Helix site, DataJam North East are holding a series of virtual events to explore five key themes: Health, Environment, Inclusivity, Mobility and Smart Living.

We hope that the ideas and projects identified at these remote events will, through broader community engagement in a series of follow-up meetings, be developed into projects which the DataJam community can work on together and be taken forward to the next DataJam conference.

The first DataJam virtual event - themed around Covid and post-Covid use of health data - was held on 4 June. View the full DataJam Health event here:

Environment event

The Covid crisis may have given the world a temporary distraction from the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, but these are still critical issues and data has a big role to play.

The second of the DataJam Virtual Events focused on the theme of Environment Data and was held on Thursday 9 June, hosted by DataJam North East in association with National Innovation Centre for Data and Analyst Network NE (ANNE).

This event brought together people working in the data and the environmental communities to hear about some of the fantastic data-related environmental work being done in our region. It encouraged us all to think about post-Covid planning for the future use of environmental data.

50 people, 24 organisations

Some 50 people from across 24 organisations gathered to hear 8 speakers from public and private sector organisations – including Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East, Newcastle City Council, CGI, Capability North East and Newcastle University – discuss the use of data to address environmental issues.

wind turbines

Speed talks – Data insights

Quantifying the impact of Covid-19 on air quality and city systems

Miles Clement, Research Associate – Urban Observatory, Newcastle University

The Urban Observatory is one of the largest open real-time urban environmental monitoring networks in the world. Miles discussed the work they've undertaken during the Covid-19 crisis to analyse and quantify the impact of the pandemic on society using their network of sensors which measure air quality, water and other meteorological variables.

7,000 observations every minute

The main function of the Urban Observatory is to build a framework for urban experimentation at a city scale using Internet of Things, and Big Data technologies and then provide this open data to help inform environmental and urban decision-making.

Over 7,000 observations are collected by Urban Observatory every minute, resulting in over 3 billion data points. The Urban Observatory hopes to raise public awareness and encourage people to start learning from and utilising the various data sets they are collating.

Urban Observatory data is making it onto public portals such as, which provides footfall in the city centre to help people safely socially distance.


@urbanobserv    @MilesAClement

Newcastle GREEN – A city-wide low-carbon building retrofit tool

Tim Rippon & Brian Williams, Newcastle City Council

Tim and Brian discussed an exciting new initiative started by the City Council called Newcastle Green which is being developed as part of the Net Zero Newcastle Action Plan.

As a city, we declared a climate emergency last year. The Council recognises that properties account for two-thirds of the city’s emissions.

Tailored set of property level interventions

Newcastle Green is a GIS web-based platform for the whole city which is designed to deliver a tailored set of property-level interventions for all domestic and non-domestic properties.

The Council believe that most people would want to add a low-carbon retrofit to property they own but one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of low-carbon measures by property owners in the city is the current complexity of the process. Newcastle Green is an interactive tool which has been developed to allow property owners within the city to receive a tailored set of low-carbon recommendations and enable the Council to support Newcastle property owners to access upcoming energy efficiency and renewable energy support schemes.

Links: @NewcastleCC

Using data strategy to address environmental issues

Sibhi Devaraju, Senior Consultant, CGI

In his talk, Sibhi explored the essential elements of good data strategy and outlined the roadmap necessary to design, develop and execute data strategy and ensure a consistent methodology to identify the right kinds of data to solve a particular problem. Giving examples of data strategies which CGI have employed across energy and social housing sectors, Sibhi discussed the environmental benefits which stem from a well-developed, nuanced strategy.

Energy efficiency programmes

CGI are one of the largest IT business consulting firms in the world. The work they do informs energy efficiency programmes and net zero plans. Sibhi shared some examples of their work including business case-based trials with local authorities in the UK to use data to greatly enhance outcomes for tenants of social housing, optimising household controls and conditions. Another example – IBOR, a CGI designed solution for the management of public spaces – is delivering C02 reductions through more intelligent control of traffic system, road signage and sewers. Sibhi also shared CGI’s own data-led approach to Net Neutral in which they are applying this data strategy within their own organisation with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

Links: @cgi_uknews

Becoming England’s greenest region – which social indicators should be tracked?

Chris Ford, VONNE member North East of England Climate Coalition

Chris Ford works with Voluntary Organisations' Network North East (VONNE) as part of the North East of England Climate Coalition and discussed the social facets to the coalition’s aim to become England’s greenest region. Chris identified the Coalition’s need to identify their progress towards this goal and explored the social measures and the degree of confidence that could be placed in those measures which would indicate that goal was being reached.

Seeking input from stakeholders

VONNE are welcoming input from stakeholders within the region and Chris invited colleagues at the event to share any input concerning their early candidates for the social indicators which included amongst others, sustainable travel, travel patterns, fuel poverty, green energy tariffs, vocational qualification uptake, financial instruments, access to nature and green jobs. The Coalition’s next step will be to consider what data sets are available and place them in a matrix, a working document that will cover geographical scope and thematic area. 


Communicating the crisis

Matt Dunlop – Head of Sustainability – Newcastle University

Matt shared the work of Newcastle University’s Sustainability team and the University’s response to the climate crisis.

As part of the Net Zero Taskforce, Matt and his team are working with partners from across Newcastle to understand how we as a city can deliver on net zero aspirations.

Newcastle is one of the first cities in the UK where the major public sector organisations have declared a climate emergency.

Matt highlighted the difficulties of communicating the crisis to our audiences. 

A challenge for the DataJam community

He set a challenge for the DataJam community, to explore what we can do to communicate climate challenges to our audiences at a personal, institutional, regional or city level. In particular, Matt highlighted the issue of carbon budgets and the need for people to understand what the budget is in terms of the finite amount of carbon that individuals, cities or institutions are able to emit into the atmosphere in order to reach those necessary net zero targets.



Natural Capital data – management across the region

Claire Thompson, Executive Manager – Capability North East

The North East is a region with an extraordinary variety of natural riches. Claire Thompson, representing the North East England Nature Partnership, introduced the concept of Natural Capital and placed this in a regional context. The concept encourages people to think of nature in a much broader sense and look at nature through an economic lens.

Fight against ecological collapse

Natural Capital is a tool in the fight against ecological collapse, which is a very real danger across the world. The concept applies to natural resources and the environment and defines the benefits we receive from nature. Whilst it has been addressed from an economic perspective, it has not always been considered from an environmental perspective.

The concept is now becoming more widely understood and there is a great deal of data available but despite all of the data, Claire emphasised the lack of a regional picture or cohesive planning addressing how to collaborate, streamline and develop platforms to make best use of the available data around Natural Capital. Claire requested support from the community to address the question, how do we best manage the data that will inform decisions and chart progress?



arid landscape


The final section of the event included a small panel of speakers discussing the work of the North East of England Climate Coalition introduced by Sir Paul Ennals, Chair of VONNE.

The panel touched on the benefits of a collaborative approach to the climate emergency and commented on the best ways regional organisations might collectively work together to ensure that what is done together will lead to something tangible at the end of the journey.

“What’s not to like about living in a greener place?”

The introduction to the discussion was given by Sir Paul Ennals, who described the reasons for creating the North East of England Climate Coalition, shared their goals and explained what they hope the DataJam community might contribute to make it all the more effective.

The Coalition will be a cross-sector initiative bringing the region together to tackle three connected ideas: the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse, and delivering an urgent and just transition.

Collective vision for the region

Paul shared the Coalition’s collective vision for the region with which they hope to motivate all parts of the region to work together to deliver ‘Becoming England’s Greenest Region'. Part of this aim is about reducing carbon emissions, part making the natural countryside – or natural capital – much richer and fuller and another part is about making sure that environmental technology jobs are created in the North to replace those jobs from dwindling fossil fuel industries.

The Coalition hopes to launch their outline vision and aspiration as well some first draft indicators this Autumn.



The full event video is available at

View more DataJam event content here: