By Elisa Jiménez Alonso
The Horizon 2020 project EU-MACS (EUropean MArket for Climate Services) is in full swing and our research is showing first results. Acclimatise and EU-MACS partner Twente University finalised a report analysing the existing climate data infrastructure, and how it may inhibit or stimulate the European climate services market.
The research involved mapping and cataloguing relationships of organisations involved in the climate data infrastructure value chain, as well as interviewing a few experts to gain further insights and corroborate the literture research. Furthermore, a usability survey was designed and carried out to evaluate a range of climate data websites and portals. Finally, the research analysed data infrastructure governance putting emphasis on the processes of data infrastructure governance in Europe.
The findings show that the quality and success of climate services highly depend on whether they will fit user needs. Thus, embedding users as integral and equal partners in the co-construction of climate services is of utmost importance. Bridging the gap between user needs and what providers think users need should be seen as an essential part of climate services development.
The report also developed a series of six hypotheses to be tested during future phases of the EU-MACS project:
- A common data format and a common convention for data records and exchange will boost services and the popularisation of climate data use.
- Role-specific data finding aides (e.g. effective search functions and clear navigation), offered with real human interactive support, are crucial for successfully establishing and maintaining data provider/ user relationships.
- Climate services philosophies sometimes seem to pin all hopes on either a good portal or a good set of aides; the solution, however, seems to be more of a combination of both, plus a good overview of available data sources, functional methods and active human (personal/personnel) engagement facilitating how users interact with both portals and aides.
- The ultimate task of a good data infrastructure governance is to emancipate it into a ‘knowledge infrastructure’ with greater usability and real-world application by other sectors (e.g. use of data by the mining sector).
- Boundary objects can provide the chance to let disparate knowledges and interest, positions and conventions converge. There are numerous items that may enhance cooperation across the boundary of climate sciences into other domains, for example use cases that show the value of climate services (i.e. the business value) to users operating in other, non-climate services, sectors (e.g. aviation or road engineering).
- It makes sense that free and open climate data is made accessible through a portal (e.g. Copernicus C3S) when flanked by support and tutorials that enhances inclusivity of a broader user base. Portals need to increase user experience to maximise impact. Freely available data, when it is not combined with appropriate levels of support, can be problematic.