Public web data on the frontlines of climate change
Data for Positive Climate Change
Public web data is a formidable weapon in the fight against climate change, and the benefits of this essential resource are continuing to show true value on the frontlines of the current crisis.
One of the leading examples of using public web data to combat climate change comes from The Climate Subak, which is fostering collaboration in a field that so desperately needs it at this point in time.
Subak functions as an open-sourced data-intermediary for not-for-profit tech start-ups — serving as the vital link between civil society and the crucial environmental data they need in order to tip the scales of the changing climate.
Through these efforts, in simpler terms, Subak is opening up new web data pathways for organizations and initiatives working directly on climate-related issues — such as reducing greenhouse gas, carbon emissions, coal and fossil fuel dependency as well as mapping the state of climate policy today — using public web data as a guide to navigate us through the darkness.
Strength Through Collaboration
The Bright Initiative recently partnered with Subak back in October 2021 to contribute efforts towards accelerating the impact of the climate organization as well as to discover and open new channels for it to pull climate data from, and new ways to support its not-for-profit members.
By association, Bright Data technology is being used to power the climate-related projects and research of multiple reputable organizations, including those of governments, leading news organizations, civil society efforts, environmental reporting agencies and tech companies alike.
Each of these organizations rely on the insights provided by Subak and its partnered organizations, to do their own individual part in solving or creating transparency around the growing number of climate-related challenges we face today.
In honor of Earth Day, we sat down with representatives from Subak as well as one of the not-for-profits Subak supports, New Automotive, to talk a bit about their organizations, their projects as well as how we can collaborate — using public web data — to truly make a difference in the battle against climate change.
“Subak uses shared data, infrastructure and tools within its open-sourced Data Cooperative to connect the top experts in the tech, environmental and science fields to create behavioral changes and forward new policy in both the private and public sector.
Following the last two years of the pandemic, I think a lot of us have reconnected to nature and realize how important climate action is, and I think we’ve also seen what can be achieved when we collectively mobilize to tackle such an urgent issue.
Notably, data is incredibly important for meeting green objectives and you can’t change what you don’t measure. And that’s partly one of the reasons why at Subak we’ve got our open Data Cooperative, and what we’re trying to achieve there is having environmental data more connected, searchable and trusted.
However, there are a couple of challenges around data sharing for climate data in particular. First of all, we just don’t know the extent of the data that people possess. A lot of the data is on personal hard drives or within a specific organization. Sometimes it’s behind a paywall.
So, the first step is just being aware of the datasets that people have, and through the Subak Data Cooperative, we’re really trying to make data open even if it’s behind a paywall.
My wish for the future is that climate organizations and anyone interested in working on climate are able to share data, share insights, work collaboratively and use kind of collective tools so that we can achieve our common objective much quicker.
Therefore, my recommendation is that anyone who cares about climate change gets involved with the work that Subak is doing and the work the Bright Data are doing in order to become part of the solution.
Let us know the data that you have so that we can access it and so that we can share it with other people, and build a full understanding of our effects on the climate and hopefully one day discover how we can all come together to solve this growing issue.“
– Program Lead at The Climate Subak, Elodie Read
“New AutoMotive is supported by Subak through its Data Cooperative. We are an independent transport research group with a set goal to accelerate and support the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK.
We use data to help people and governments make better decisions, using the huge amount of public web data available about vehicles, about emissions, air pollution, about all aspects of the transition to clean transport.
Our platform provides data tools as well as consumer products to map sales of EVs by manufacturer and region, as well as create budget calculators for consumers in the market for new vehicles.
As a demonstration of the power of the insights we receive, most notably, we helped the UK Government decide to ban the sale of automobiles that rely on fossil and diesel fuels past 2030.
However, despite our most recent success in the UK, at the moment, governments don’t really have much sight of that data and consumers are struggling to navigate the transition and make decisions about what’s the best car for them for their driving behavior and their needs.
The main driver of this issue is that there’s a huge amount of really valuable data and information out there that is sitting inside companies at the moment and not being shared.
It might not even be that valuable to the company that has it, but it could be really valuable to other people — whether it’s governments or researchers or consumers.
Sharing that data allows more people to get access to it and allows more people to benefit from it. It enriches everybody else’s work and can give rise to fantastic collaboration.
We’ve benefited from incredible support and collaboration with The Bright Initiative through getting access to public web data that we can use to influence government policy.
We’re now growing New Automotive, and we’re looking at expanding what we do into other countries in Europe and around the world, so we’re going to increasingly be looking for new sources of data about the transition to electric vehicles, not just in the UK.
Our relationship with Subak, in partnership with The Bright Initiative, is obviously going to be a huge help in accomplishing that because public web data is global, and therefore we can extend our practices and reach as such, which is only possible with the access to this crucial data.
I would recommend to any nonprofit or charitable organization to get in touch with The Bright Initiative, find out what they can do for you. Find out how public data can benefit your work and your mission.
It’s been hugely valuable to us and I think there are lots of organizations that could really benefit from it.“
– Co-founder & Head of Policy at New Automotive, Ben Nelmes