- The Natural History Museum and Amazon Web Services will create a ‘digital twin’ for UK biodiversity by building a data platform to store, enrich and compare urban biodiversity and environmental data
- The data platform aims to give the museum’s scientists and researchers around the world unprecedented access to a wealth of Britain’s biodiversity and environmental data to support the discovery of solutions to the planetary emergency
The Natural History Museum today announced a multi-year partnership with the leading provider of cloud computing services, Amazon Web Services (AWS), that will help transform the museum’s scholarly research and community science capabilities by providing a broad Range of types of biodiversity and environmental data in the UK are brought together in one place for the first time. This will help the museum’s scientists build on the scientific understanding of biodiversity and the environment in the UK, encourage more integrated interdisciplinary research programs and advance science-led restoration of nature in UK urban spaces.
The organizations will develop a new data platform, the Data Ecosystem, built using AWS technologies. By building the data ecosystem on the AWS Cloud, the museum can collect, store, combine, and compare data in a secure, resilient, and scalable way.
The museum will make the data ecosystem available to the museum’s 350 scientists, who represent one of the largest groups in the world studying and researching nature, as well as researchers at the museum’s partner institutes across the UK. The data ecosystem will help researchers gain a deeper understanding of the UK’s urban biodiversity, including its composition, its relationship to environmental conditions and its response to direct conservation action.
Scientists will be able to quickly and accurately examine biodiversity data types alongside environmental data such as soil and atmospheric chemistry or noise pollution. This, combined with access to the museum’s 27 years of historical wildlife data from the gardens of South Kensington, will produce an increasingly detailed picture of how biodiversity functions and is likely to open up vast opportunities for research and positive action for nature. The intention is to collect all new UK biodiversity and environmental data from Natural History Museum projects over time and create a ‘digital twin’, a real-time virtual representation of the UK’s biodiversity.
dr John Tweddle, Director of the Angela Marmont Center for UK Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum says: “Working with AWS to develop the data ecosystem will revolutionize the scholarly work we do at the museum. The data will constitute an essential tool to uncover new solutions to the planetary ecological emergency; from monitoring Britain’s wildlife to promoting science-based restoration of nature in our cities and communities.”
Darren Hardman, VP & General Manager, UK & Ireland, Amazon Web Services, said: “We are proud to partner with the Natural History Museum to help them embrace new digital technologies and accelerate new scientific discoveries. Access to a wide range of data is vital for the museum’s scientists to build a better understanding of Britain’s urban biodiversity and help address the planetary emergency. The cloud is an important enabler for this. For the first time, scientists have the ability to securely store and process research data using the data ecosystem, which can easily scale as more and more data is collected over time. We look forward to working with the museum to drive innovation across the business for years to come as the partnership grows.”
In addition, the data ecosystem will help accelerate the museum’s biodiversity monitoring already underway, starting with its Urban Nature Project (UNP), which will transform the museum’s five-acre site into a bio-diverse green space in the heart of London. In addition to an on-site learning and activity center for science activities run by AWS, the UNP Gardens will feature “living galleries” where museum scholars can develop and test new methods to monitor, protect, and protect vital urban nature and to enrich for the human good.
Visual and ecological DNA-based observations of plants and wildlife, as well as environmental and acoustic monitoring data from a high-resolution sensor network in the museum’s gardens are curated and combined within the data ecosystem. The wealth of data will enable the museum’s scientists to provide scientific evidence of the impact that habitat creation, restoration and relocation is having on Britain’s urban wildlife, from grasslands to pond habitats.
The data ecosystem is also intended to enable the museum’s globally recognized community and citizen science program by providing a platform through which individuals, community groups and schools participate in world-class research related to their local wildlife and environment contribute and control them.
Lucy Robinson, Citizen Science Manager at the Natural History Museum, said: “Accelerating the pace at which local observations flow into world-class research and back into real action for the planet has never been more important. Our Community Science Program is powered by the Data Ecosystem and empowers people across the UK to study and protect the local environments that matter to them.”
Lisa Chilton, Chief Executive Officer, National Biodiversity Network Trust said: “The National Biodiversity Network Trust has worked with the Natural History Museum on pioneering biodiversity data projects for more than 20 years. We are excited about the development of the museum’s innovative new data ecosystem, powered by AWS, which will help answer critical questions about the health of the natural world and how we can stop the biodiversity crisis.”
Development for the data ecosystem is ongoing and the gardens are scheduled to open to the public in 2023.
Notes for editors
Contact for natural history media: Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5654/ (0)779 969 0151 Email: [email protected]
The Urban Nature Project
The Natural History Museum Urban Nature Project was developed in response to the urgent need to both monitor and record changes in urban nature in the UK. Working in partnership with museums and wildlife organizations across the UK, the project will develop online, on-site and national monitoring and citizen science programmes, transforming the museum’s five acre gardens in South Kensington into a globally relevant urban nature ‘epicentre’, whilst doing so help to secure the future of nature. Amazon Web Services is the main sponsor of the Urban Nature Project.
More information on the Urban Nature Project can be found at https://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/urban-nature-project.html
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research center and the UK’s most-visited indoor attraction in the past year. With a vision of a future where both people and the planet thrive, the company is uniquely positioned to be a strong advocate for balancing the needs of humanity with those of the natural world.
It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections with over 80 million specimens accessed by researchers from around the world both personally and through over 30 billion digital data downloads to date. The museum’s 350 scientists find solutions to the planet’s plight, from biodiversity loss to sustainable extraction of natural resources.
The museum uses its global reach and influence to fulfill its mission to create advocates for the planet – to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome millions of visitors through our doors each year, our website has been visited 17 million times in the last year and our traveling exhibitions have been seen by around 20 million people in the last 10 years.
supporters and sponsors
A variety of trusts, foundations, corporations and individuals support the Urban Nature Project including AWS, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Evolution Education Trust, the Cadogan Charity, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Kusuma Trust, the Wolfson Foundation, and Charles Wilson Rowena Olegario, Huo Family Foundation (UK), Johnson Matthey, Workman and the Trustees and Board of Directors of the Museum.