• University of Reading
  • IEA logo

Big Data and the Environment

From sources such as satellites, sensors and social media, how can environmental data analytics benefit business and research?

14,151 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Use current examples to explore the potential benefits of environmental big data

From weather fluctuations to the spread of an invasive species, what problems can scientists address by analysing these vast data collections? What are the potential benefits for business, research and our daily lives?

Find out about possible career paths and gain insights from industry experts and research scientists working on a range of current projects. From urban planning to monitoring wildlife, explore the complexities of managing and analysing big data to seek innovative solutions.

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  • Week 1

    What is big data?

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome! Meet the course educators and find out what topics you will cover over the next three weeks as we discuss how big data can benefit research and business.

    • Sources of big data

      Sources of big data are everywhere. Explore a wide range of sources and find out how these can inform research by focusing on two examples; satellites and temperature change.

    • Storing, processing and analysing big data

      Sufficiently powerful computers are necessary to process big data and to ensure it is usable, accessible and relevant for users. Find out more about the requirements for storing, processing and analysing big data.

    • Review and reflect

      This week you explored sources of big data and the requirements for storing it - let's recap the key messages. Next week, you'll move from data to discovery and discuss the skills needed to find and analyse data.

  • Week 2

    Data to Discovery

    • Open data

      There are many advantages to making data open. Hear a research scientist's perspective on open data and how it can be used for research and business development.

    • The role of a Data Scientist

      You need a combination of skills to become a successful data scientist. Find out more about the role of a data scientist from staff at the IEA.

    • Your turn!

      Download, process and analyse a real dataset on power usage in London.

    • Data challenges

      As you've learnt previously, there are several challenges when it comes to big data. Discover more about the solutions to these challenges and hear more about metadata.

    • Review and reflect

      This week you discussed the advantages of open data and explored a dataset for yourself - let's recap the key messages. Next week you'll look at big and small data, and the power of citizen science.

  • Week 3

    Big and Small Data

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Welcome to Week 3! Find out what topics you will cover in the final week of the course and discuss the ways in which small data can be useful.

    • Big and small data

      Big isn't always better. Explore examples where a smaller size has enabled data to be presented in an efficient and meaningful way.

    • The power of citizen science

      Hear from scientists on how volunteers have contributed to their research projects including recording wildlife and monitoring changes in the climate.

    • Visualising data: big and small

      You've heard how powerful visualisations can be for communicating big data. Discuss what makes a good visualisation by exploring a range of examples.

    • Visualising data: urban planning

      Explore the four levels of data visualisation and discuss the principles behind creating a successful visualisation.

    • Review and reflect

      As you reach the end of the course, test your understanding of the topics covered in the final week and think about next steps.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the characteristics and identify sources of big data
  • Explore applications of data in environmental science for business
  • Understand the skills necessary to be a data scientist
  • Discuss the importance of open data and participate in citizen science

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at professionals seeking a better understanding of environmental big data and the potential these offer to address key questions and underpin novel solutions for business.

It is also relevant to anyone studying environmental topics with a general interest in big data analytics and the complexities and issues surrounding the collection, curation and application of these vast data sets.

Who will you learn with?

Training manager for the IEA - interested in all things about learning and the environment.

Chief Technology Officer at the Institute for Environmental Analytics. We help all kinds of people to understand and make the most of environmental data!

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

Institute for Environmental Analytics

A world-leading applied Research and Development organisation, helping customers who understand the opportunities of environmental data analytics to manage risk and improve business.

Endorsers and supporters

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funded by

Higher Education Funding Council For England logo

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