Open data and greenhouse gas measurement projects get provincial funding

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two researchers in Environment were awarded funding as part of the Government’s Early Researcher Award (ERA) from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, and The Ontario Research Fund – Small Infrastructure programs.

Peter Johnson, an assistant professor in Geography and Environmental Management received an ERA for his project, Measuring the Value and Impact of Open Data.

Project description:

Open data is government data that becomes shared publicly with citizens. In Ontario, delivering open data has become a major focus for provincial and municipal governments.  Dr. Johnson will build partnerships with key open data stakeholders, developing case studies that measure the value and impact of open data initiatives, assessing how open data is used to generate economic and social benefits. This research will directly impact how governments provide open data and how stakeholders such as private software developers, other governments, non-profits, and citizens can build successful applications and businesses models that rely on open data.

“The Early Researcher Award will provide an incredible support to my research program, allowing me to attract top-notch graduate student and to train a new generation of experts in the use and analysis of government data to improve government functioning and service provision,” Johnson said. “This research will have benefits for society in general. The provision of open data is fueling a change in the way that governments interact with their citizens. A critical analysis of open data adoption and use by government will enable citizen engagement and advocacy, thus more fully realizing the ideals of participatory democracy.”

Maria Strack an associate professor and Canada Research Chair, also in Geography and Environmental Management, received funding from The Ontario Research Fund – Small Infrastructure program. Her project, Gas Chromatograph and Ultraportable Sensor for Determination of Peatland Greenhouse Gas Exchange, will be used for a gas chromatograph and ultraportable greenhouse gas (GHG) sensor to measure peatland GHG flux under various land uses.

Results will improve understanding of the interaction between peatlands and climate. Restoration practices to minimize peatland GHG emission will be identified.

“The potential impact of peatland disturbance on global GHG emissions has been recognized internationally by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), thus, understanding the impact of climate change and resource development on GHG emission from peatlands is critical. This infrastructure allows the expansion of our research program to incorporate more study sites and a broader range of management types providing much needed data for developing peatland GHG quantification and methods for reduction of these emissions,” Strack said. “This research benefits Ontario environmentally by investigating biological GHG emission reductions through peatland restoration and reclamation, and the potential for developing GHG offsets related to these management activities. Better land management and development of GHG offsets also translate into economic benefits for Ontario’s industry."