National Materials Datahub

The long-term vision of a National Materials Datahub (NMD) is to provide the UK’s 1st single version of truth for materials information in the UK, open for public good. The NMD is an innovative research project at its early phase to investigate feasibility, and developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to validate users need with a minimum set of features.

Initial focus would include,

Can we apply innovative data science techniques to:

  • better leverage materials data and information that are already out there?
  • better shape a datahub for an enduring, sustainable future in the UK?

The creation of NMD would enable the measurement of resource economy, the design of new statistics and indicators that reflect a rapidly evolving world and our complex relationship to materials. Also supporting future policy decisions making and industrial strategy over the issues such as sustainable materials, economic growth, carbon savings, overall global competitiveness which is even more relevant in the context of EU exit.

Team members

  • Simon Duddy
  • Clare Saunders
  • Jasmine Latham
  • Steven Hopkins
  • Gareth Clews
  • Michael Hodge
  • Marta Jez

The need

The August 2016 scoping study “Materials Flow Planning”, commissioned by BEIS (then BIS) confirmed that a lack of coordinated and usable data on the availability of non-virgin resources in, and to, the UK makes the identification of secure and reliable domestic feedstock supply difficult. This prevents industry from making the investments needed to realise clean growth and competitiveness opportunities. This also impedes industrial transformations required to deliver against key Government industrial strategy, resource efficiency and bio economy policy agendas.

The more recently published 2017 “Report of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser 2016, From Waste to Resource Productivity, The Government Office for Science” co-authored by Sir Mark Walport (former Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Professor Ian Boyd, (Chief Scientific Adviser at DEFRA) further highlighted these issues. Their report identified a number of areas where the Government could bring leadership, direction and coordination e.g.

“To drive market behaviour, a “Data with a Purpose Initiative” to map data needs and prepare a roadmap of administrative and legislative action necessary to put in place a comprehensive and modern waste and resource data regime in the UK. Defra could lead this and involve representatives from Office for National Statistics, industry, the waste sector and academia.”

Impact

Materials availability will be visible to industry and government for public good. The impacts, which will be realised over time as discoveries are made, will include:

  • Identify materials across the UK and where the data gaps are
  • Identify, improve and invest on data collection methods
  • Identify alternative/complementary industrial applications and processes
  • Identify critical and scarce materials
  • Modelling of policy decisions, investment opportunities (road infrastructure, waste streams), and preempting unintended consequences

Data science

By gathering materials information from industry and government, the data science feasibility can be assessed over time as discoveries are made, will explore:

  • combining large, diverse datasets and disseminate via a geospatial platform
  • facilitating “what-if” scenarios in relation to materials accessibility by geolocations and road infrastructure
  • exploring the possibility of tracking materials flow at transnational levels
  • exploring the possibility of bridging data gaps and granularity using satellite imagery
  • exploring the possibility of a Observatory of Economic Complexity tool that allows users to quickly compose a visual narrative of the countries and products they exchange. 

Stakeholders

  • Advisory Board - consists of the most senior stakeholders in the industry and government, providing access to data and modelling know-how, advice the direction of this project.

  • Virtual Team - consists of SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) in the industry and government, providing technical knowledge and domain expertise related to data collection, statistical modelling for material information.

Code and outputs

A technical feasibility report, blogs, code sharing that enables scoping of next phase.

  • GitHub repository

Further information

Please contact datasciencecampus@ons.gov.uk for more information.

Updates

  • No updates yet.

Notes

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Updated