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Data Science to Solve NZ’s Environmental Problems

Data Science for New Zealand Environment Problems

Leading data scientists at the University of Waikato have been awarded NZ$ 13 million for a new research project that will help New Zealanders solve critical environmental problems facing the country.

According to a recent press release, the Time-Evolving Data Science / Artificial Intelligence for Advanced Open Environmental Science (TAIAO) project will initially be researched-based.

About the Project

  • Then, the project will eventually provide fit-for-purpose tools and methods that can be used by researchers and practitioners across all areas of the New Zealand environment.
  • This is the largest project to be funded in recent years at the University and will be spread over seven years.
  • The University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor shared that the funding announcement is a testament to the world-class data science capabilities at the University.
  • It has long been a leader in the field of computer science and is thrilled to be leading a new project of such significance to New Zealand.
  • The project’s lead researcher explained how the project will have an impact on the field of data science by developing new methods to deal with large volumes of time series data.
  • On top of that, the project will produce a positive impact on the environment.

Data Science for New Zealand Environment Problems

  • This project is the perfect opportunity to combine international learnings with the passion of the University’s own data science researchers to preserve the country’s famously beautiful lakes, rivers, forests, estuaries and mountains for future generations.
  • Professor Bifet is world-renowned for his contributions to data science as an author and core founder of the MOA machine learning software.
  • He is a recipient of the competitive Entrepreneurial Universities fund, which aims to attract world-leading entrepreneurial researchers to New Zealand.
  • It, therefore, gives them the opportunity to teach at their choice of university in New Zealand.
  • The University’s data science capabilities might be New Zealand’s best-kept secret. The Weka suite of machine learning is so well known and widely used internationally.
  • However, most Kiwis do not realise that it was developed right in Waikato.
  • The project is a new collaboration between the University, the University of Auckland, and the University of Canterbury, as well as Beca and MetService, and includes world-leading data scientists, data engineers, and environmental scientists.

Strategic Science Investment Fund

  • Funding has been granted from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment via their Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).
  • The SSIF funds strategic investment in research programmes and scientific infrastructure that have long-term beneficial impact on New Zealand’s health, economy, environment and society.
  • It provides a strong foundation for New Zealand’s science system, complementing and enabling the government’s other science investments.
  • The SSIF funds through 2 components – Programmes and Infrastructure.
  • Funding is awarded for programmes of research that are critical to the future of New Zealand’s well-being, economy and environment.
  • Funding is provided for access to and development of large-scale research infrastructure that is needed to undertake research in priority areas.
  • The SSIF investment plan provides the strategic context and sets out principles, rationale and signals for how funding is invested.
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