DATA Play 4
Environment and greenspace

The STEM Hub, City College Plymouth

Friday 7 October 2016
9.45am to 4pm
Saturday 8 October 2016
9.45am to 4pm

DATA Play 4 provided some really interesting discussions around the environment and greenspace in the city. The DATA Play community has really grown and it was great to see more people and projects link up with each other.

The day included talks from:

  • Natural Infrastructure Team (Plymouth City Council): Presentation and discussion about their work and existing projects
  • Beyond: Demonstration of citizen sensing/citizen science tech, lightning talk on sensor devices and what they can collect and a Minecraft workshop
  • Active Neighbourhoods: Presentation on the project discussions and demonstrations of laser cutters and 3D printing

Once again we were offering £2,000 to help progress the three ideas that had the most potential to help the city and deliver some of the challenges we set (see below) which this time focused on environment and greenspace.

Get in touch

We’re always on the lookout for potential investment opportunities in good ideas. If you think you have a great idea that will improve the city or your community email

DATA Play 4 challenges

The value of nature

The natural environment is intrinsically intertwined in our daily lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. It helps to purify air and water, reduce flooding and noise and alleviates climate change.

The cost of last winter’s floods is estimated to be over £5 billion. Some 84 per cent of the crops grown for human consumption – around 400 different types of plants – need bees and other insects to pollinate. These include most fruits and vegetables, many nuts, and plants such as rapeseed and sunflowers that are turned into oil. Crops grown as fodder for dairy cows and other livestock are also pollinated by bees.

In the UK alone the value of pollinators is estimated to be in the order of £200 million. It’s known that house prices are higher in tree-lined streets and overlooking the sea. Nature provides a ‘Natural Health Service’ proven to improve mental and physical health – when poor mental health alone costs the economy an estimated £26.1 billion a year. There are social benefits in engagement with the natural environment including improved social cohesion, pride and confidence.

  • How can we use technology creatively to highlight the value of nature and the outdoors?

Access to the natural environment

We’re in the midst of a public health crisis as people are less active than ever before. This affects physical and mental health so getting people outside and active will help to combat this.

Active Neighbourhoods, Poole Farm, Urban Buzz and the Plymouth Open Spaces Network are four exciting projects which are getting people engaged with the natural environment in Plymouth by supporting volunteering, training and community events.

All of these projects are promoted on Twitter @natureplymouth and Facebook ‘Nature Plymouth’, ‘Active Neighbourhoods Project’ and ‘Poole Farm Project’.

  • How can we use these forms of communication to engage with and get young people outdoors and active, whilst gaining enough data to evidence our impact?

More effective and/or community led management

Given that funding for green spaces, blue spaces, sports and play has reduced steadily over recent years, the need for sustainable development has never been more important.

  • Using the data sets provided can you identify potential opportunities for locally based community enterprise that are innovative and help generate income to manage and improve the natural environment?

Climate change and low carbon opportunities

The Plymouth Plan looks to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent and sets out an approach to manage a range of challenges from using sustainable energy sources, managing flood risk and protecting the natural environment.

There are also many existing projects in the city supporting sustainable food and energy initiatives that could benefit from new and innovative ways of mapping, monitoring and developing the work they’re doing.

  • How could data and technology be used to support this work?

This work is supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government through Delivering Differently in Neighbourhoods funding and Local Planning Reform funding.

DATA Play 4 winners

We received 12 ideas/proposals for DATA Play 4. The panel was made up of the Chair of Plymouth open Spaces Network, the Active Neighbourhoods Officer and the Natural Infrastructure Officer and the DATA Play team.

The panel had a tricky job looking at some wide ranging ideas. There was a heated discussion and finally the following ideas were given a budget of £2,000 to take their ideas forward:

Rob Wick: Environmental monitoring stations

Rob put forward an idea to create a prototype environmental monitoring stations using Bluetooth. These low cost devices would live around the city and would help us collect anonymous data about weather, air quality, temperature and the movement of people around a space.

Lucy Knight and Leigh Cooper: Green spaces modelled in Minecraft

Lucy and Leigh proposed to investigate how green spaces modelled in Minecraft could increase engagement with the outdoors. They will take a real green space in Plymouth, model it in Minecraft using accurate open lidar data and run a set of classroom sessions and feedback activities.

Nudge Up: Rubbish rewards

Nudge Up proposed to reduce the behaviour of littering in Plymouth’s high streets by using principles of saliency, feedback and social norms. Using an LED strip, they will detect when someone puts litter in a bin and then activate the LED strip whilst playing a short ‘congratulation’ sound.

Dave Rowe: Visualising Plymouth environment data

We also made an extra reward to for Dave Rowe who worked his magic with spatial data to create a way to map our open data.

Keep up to date

Follow us on Twitter @plymccplanning #DATAPlay or sign up for email alerts

Get involved

For more information on how to get involved with our DATA Play days email


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