Data & Evidence Officer
Working life behind the scenes…
My role as a ‘Data and Evidence Officer’ is to analyse, visualise and interpret environmental data – sometimes I even get out of the office to collect the data myself! I see myself as a ‘Catchment Scientist’ as I am concerned with all spheres of a river’s catchment; from rainfall, to soils and vegetation, urban areas, natural habitats, and species of all kinds. A useful tool to help me both analyse and visualise this spatially (and often temporally) distributed information and data is known as GIS (Geographical Information System). A Geographical Information System enables me to represent the position of any data on the Earth’s surface and to perform analytics. After interrogating the data I can use the computer system to generate a map – I guess you could call me a cartographer in this situation, although I don’t see myself as that artistic. A map demonstrating analysed environmental data is a simple and effective way of quickly interpreting and most importantly telling a story of a specific area. I started using GIS and generating maps at university and have since progressed from placing pretty lines and dots on a simple Ordnance Survey base-map, to generating landcover data from satellite imagery.
In my opinion, the biggest challenge rivers face is the lack of engagement from the wider public. There is a disconnect between where people perceive their drinking water coming from and waste going to and furthermore a lack of understanding concerning the health of our riverine ecosystems. Equally remedying this is one of the biggest challenges a ‘Data and Evidence Officer’ can face – interpreting and presenting information in an appealing and engaging way in order to facilitate knowledge transfer.
“Perhaps one of the best things about my job is the fact that I do quite frequently get out to collect data myself, but am also sometimes tasked with interpreting that same data – it’s my job to tell the story of a beautiful piece of countryside I have just visited not only through showing people pictures, but by sharing detailed scientific information about it.”