This article provides the problems identified by Gillian Maree of SSI Environmental for the theme "Knowledge and Information" as it pertains to Environmental Impact Assessment and Management.
Last modified on Monday, 16 May 2011 09:00
There are information gaps, and data is inconsistent, often inaccessible and poorly maintained. Without rigorous standardisation of data formats and data collection, information will continue to be poorly integrated/shared. There is inadequate strategic data, which limits the ability of decision makers to discern where protection is needed and how best to secure environmental assets.
• There are inconsistencies in the collection of data on key natural resources, resulting in information gaps which make accurate predictions difficult
• Data may be unreliable, incompatible, inconsistent, non-uniform and even contradictory because of poor standardization.
• Information is not always fit for purpose – data layers may be too coarse, may lack - strategic context, baseline information about environmental thresholds, environmental no-go areas, environmental sensitivity delineation
• Access to information is limited. Those who already know where to go, or more importantly, know whom to ask, may have access. Inaccessibility may be influenced by an attitude to information which sees it as a currency to be traded or not shared. Information is sometimes restricted (e.g. mining).
• Poor infrastructure (hardware); poor standardisation of software (to enable sharing); and poor maintenance of data portals (web sites) limited accessibility
• Where technical staff decide which data, how much detail, and who has access, inadequate or distorted information may be available to decision makers
• High costs associated with data collection (specifically for primary data collection), costs of data storage, maintenance and dissemination, result in poor maintenance.
• The technical expertise and specialized equipment (hardware and software) required to capture or manipulate data is limited to certain specialised people and expensive (often tightly licensed) equipment.
• Inadequate training in the use and maintenance of information systems
• Different users and interest groups have greatly differing needs when it comes to information access
• Information may be out-of-date
• There is insufficient base-line information. It is not updated often enough, may not be accessible and may have an environmental bias or exclude information pertinent to decision making.