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Unlocking the potential of sensors for our environment: A co-creation and writing retreat


Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) via Cranfield University 


 £18,992 to Coventry University

Project team

(PI) Dr Alison Halford, (Co-I) Professor Elena Gaura, Dr Pinar England

Duration of project

01 April 2023 to 31 July 2023

Project overview

Sensors and their data are key enablers of the digital transformation that is reimaging the way people connect with their surroundings, their community, and society at large. To continue to unlock the benefits of sensors for the environment there needs to be a sensing ecosystem that cuts across disciplines, sectors, and technologies to build a community of practice that fully considers people, places, and ethics.

Yet, the presence of so many fields, processes, and industries working in the sector results in siloing of expertise and fragmentation of innovation. This impacts on the ability for those working with sensors to adopt a whole systems approach to research that articulates and explores present and future sensing challenges and can influence funding direction and policy.

A writing retreat as an action-based call

The writing retreat, delivered by the Centre for Computational Science and Mathematical Modelling will offer researchers across the sensor ecosystem a platform to interact, network, exchange ideas and share knowledge to develop new ways and methods of understanding around environmental sensors and sensing.

In attending the retreat, researchers will collaborate on an action-based call for future research and find opportunities to work towards new projects and proposals.

By building a connected landscape of researchers through co-creating a briefing paper, this writing retreat will demonstrate how supporting an inclusive sensor ecosystem can result in design, deployment, application, and uptake that respects the dignity, rights, safety, and well-being of all.

Project objectives

  • To build a community of practice that fully considers people, places, and ethics
  • Use creative and innovative thinking techniques and methods to develop new ways of understanding around environmental sensors and sensing
  • Synthesise advances to date in environmental sensing and sensor networks, including best techno-social practice in environmental sensor systems
  • Identify challenges now and in the future to aid policy making, strategic investment in the sector and investment uptake of research challenges.


  • Build upon the scope of the UKRI’s report ‘Low-cost environmental monitoring sensors: landscaping review, UK and India’
  • Support NERC CDE objectives by engaging in debate around the digital environment to promote ethical and inclusive policy and practice
  • Signpost innovation that can maximise benefits from existing and new sensor networks technology and their associated infrastructure.
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