Supply of online environmental information to unknown demand: The importance of interpretation and liability related to a national network of river level data

K.A.J. Arts, A. Ioris, C. Macleod, X. Han, Y. Sripada, J. Braga, R. van der Wal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Public authorities that collect data on the environment increasingly offer online public access to information, but they do not always consider by whom such information is used and for what purposes. And where they do, demand may not be homogenous or sufficiently known, thus adding to the difficulties of which information should be presented in what ways. Here we discuss the main
issues in the process of supplying online environmental information to unknown demand, as
identified by interviewees from both sides of online environmental information supply. Our focus is
on river level information collected and presented by the main Scottish water regulator. Two main
areas came to the fore: liability of the supplier regarding consistency and quality of the provided
information; and interpretation, related to discrepancies between science-based expert and
layperson understandings. In light of the new societal role that this regulator aspires to – that is,
replacing ‘command and control’ regulation with ‘command and covenant’ stewardship – this
case study offers insight into the two areas proved key to institutional decision-making about
environmental data display, thereby generating new insight into the dynamics of a digital society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-252
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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