Compass on ENVIROFI Project Panel


Compass MD, Mr Gearoid O’Riain, was one of the invited panelists to take part in a panel discussion at the ENVIROFI Project Day during the week long ‘geo fest’ in Dublin, which included the 1st Eye on Earth International Meeting (4-6 March), the ENVIROFI Project Day (6 March) and the EUROGI imaGIne Conference (7-8 March).

ENVIROFI PanelGearoid was joined by panelists Fiona Regan (Prof at Dublin City University), Peter Fatelnig (Deputy Head of Unit athe Europcan Commission’s DG Connect), Glemens Portele (MD of Interactice Instruments) and Denis Havlik (Austrian Institute of Technology).

The panelists were asked to respond to a range of questions raised by the audience, spanning many different topics and issues, from the role of social networking, crowdsourcing and VGI to location based services, data mining, ‘big data’, and ‘official’ versus ‘unofficial’ data sources, since much of the most valuable (near) real-time data (location-based and otherwise) comes from the millions of ‘human sensors’ out there in the world.

An interesting debate arose over the definition of what was an “environmental information service” versus a “social information service”. Also discussed were the future problems we face in trying to use the huge volumes of data now being produced, especially via social networks and crowdsourcing. Simply ‘opening up the data’ is also not the answer, since the data must be ‘fit for purpose’, avaialble in a form that can be used and re-used.

Gearoid O'Riain on Panel

In response to the moderator’s question on what areas of data on the environment need to be addressed in the future, smart metering to help conserve water was discussed. From the SME point of view, Gearoid pointed out while public externalities (like a clean environment) need to be taken into account in developing open data related products, it was likely that only organisations with a public service remit could invest in such products for which commercial applications were limited. The opportunities for SMEs and industry were around applications that had a broader consumer or business to business remit and obvious benefits e.g. traffic congestion avoidance for consumers, protection of assets for business. On the positive side, much more agricultural and marine data and information is now becoming available than ever before – and we must find ways to use this more intelligently and get it to the audiences who ‘need to know’ in a form that they can digest.

The session ended with thanks to all panelists by moderator Milan Gupta and appreciation of the audience.


Compass’ Information Policy Analyst, Roger Longhorn, was also present at all three events during the week, for which short reports are found elsewhere in our News column.

For further information please contact: Andy Day – or Roger Longhorn –