Environmental Data and Governance Initiative
The Challenge: Environmental regulations are not effectively protecting the environment and public health. This stems from: the influence those who benefit from environmentally harmful practices have on regulation and research ; data systems that have been designed with flawed scientific and social scientific assumptions; and forms of public engagement that constrain meaningful public participation in decision making, agenda setting, and actions to improve environmental health and justice.
What Can Be Done: Government actors can be held accountable by research communities and tools that enable rapid public analysis of changes in regulation, data, and websites. Additionally, data infrastructures can be redesigned to improve identification and prediction of environmental harms and to create more public accountability for these harms. Academics, non-profits, regulatory agencies, and communities can collaborate to build effective and just environmental information systems.
How the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) is meeting the challenge: EDGI is building software and research communities to track federal regulations, data, and websites. They have developed a research community who interview agency staff to offer uniquely human-centered analysis of changes within the federal government. Additionally, EDGI are developing new software for the public and their representatives to engage data on environmental contamination and the enforcement of environmental laws. EDGI are working to convene communities, academics, technologists, non-profits, and policy makers to discuss and develop more just, effective, accountable, and public forms of environmental data and governance.
EDGI’s work encompasses five major program areas:
- Analyzing the inner workings of federal environmental policy.
- Monitoring changes to, and exploring standards for, web-based information provided by the federal government about the environment, energy, and climate.
- Developing new ways of making environmental data more effective, accessible, just and accountable to the public.
- Conceptualizing and moving toward environmental data justice.
- Prototyping new organizational structures and practices for distributed, collective, and effective work rooted in justice.