NUI Galway Convenes Workshop on Information and Communications Technology and Environmental Regulation
Thursday, 20 June 2013
Workshop convenor, Rónán Kennedy, with keynote speaker Professor Bradley C. Karkkainen, University of Minnesota School of Law.
The ways in which information and communications technology can be used to support environmental regulation was the subject of an international exploratory workshop in NUI Galway on 20-21 June.
The workshop, ‘Information and Communications Technology for Environmental Regulation: Developing a Research Agenda’, attracted over fifty international experts from Europe, the United States of America and Australia. The delegates were experts in law, the physical and social sciences, information systems and web science. The lively discussions addressed topics such as real-time monitoring of air pollution through sensors; large-scale databases of geographical information on the health of rivers, lakes and beaches; satellite-based monitoring of farming patterns; and the provision of information on industrial pollution to the public through government websites. Speakers included academics, staff from non-governmental agencies and personnel from regulatory agencies. The keynote speaker was Professor Bradley C. Karkkainen, University of Minnesota School of Law.
According to the workshop convenor, Rónán Kennedy, “This was a valuable first step in mapping out a complex range of problems from the legal supports needed to develop this potentially valuable tool, to vital issues like privacy, along with the details of how the technology is used in practice. We learned about the difficulties that can be caused by the differences between the pace of change in technology, which can be very rapid, and change in the law, which can be very slow. We also learned that there is a difference between having data and having knowledge. Without real engagement with new measurement tools, we may drown in information but learn very little.”
Professor Colin Brown of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, who chaired one of the panels, commented, “The workshop brought together participants with a diversity of expertise who recognised that, when dealing with complex social and environmental problems, the intelligent use of information technology can be a strong driver of regulation and behavioural change”.
Dr James Cunningham of the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, and also a panel chair at the workshop, added, “Workshop participants had the opportunity to hear about radical and incremental ICT innovations adopted by regulation agencies in Ireland and UK. The interactions and discussions among this policy, practice and regulatory agencies highlighted significant multidisciplinary research themes.”
The workshop was funded by NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, and the Irish Research Council. For more details, contact Rónán Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or +353-91-495626
Author: Rónán Kennedy, NUI Galway