Concordia Leads Creation of Montreal Climate Data Hub

Concordia University

After a year of consultation and co-design, a Concordia-led initiative to create a Climate Data Hub for Greater Montreal is launching publicly.

The Climate Data Hub will provide a single federated point of access to emissions-related data held by a range of government offices, private companies and academic researchers.

Access to comprehensive and granular data is vital to developing effective climate policies and regulations, advocacy campaigns, business decisions, models and scenarios.

The Montreal Climate Partnership, which is the Climate Data Hub's project sponsor, announced the launch of the hub at the 2024 Montreal Climate Summit.

Climate Data Hub partners include the City of Montreal, Hydro-Québec, Énergir, Coop Carbone, Open North, École de Technologie Supérieure, the Climate Institute of Canada, IVADO, KPMG Canada, Québec Net Positif, Sustainability in the Digital Age, TIESS and Transition en commun.

Middle-aged man with grey hair and glasses, smiles at cameraJean-Noé Landry: 'We want purposeful data sharing that enables us to take decisions and spur actions.'

From consultation to implementation

Work on the Climate Data Hub is being led out of the Next-Generation Cities Institute (NGCI) as part of Concordia's UNIVER/CITY 2030 initiative, created to help Montreal meet the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The Climate Data Hub effort is being led by Jean-Noé Landry, former executive director of Open North and Obama Scholar.

"This year will be mainly about moving from the consultation phase to the implementation and prototyping phases of the initiative," says Landry.

The first step in the launch process will be to collect use cases from data holders and data users to determine where shared data can be of the most use in terms of advancing decarbonization efforts in Montreal.

"We don't just want to pool data for the sake of it," says Landry. "We want purposeful data sharing that enables us to take decisions and spur actions that we haven't been able or willing to take previously."

"This is really about making sure that we stay tightly oriented around the question of how data can facilitate and drive action on emissions reduction," says Jason Ens, Concordia's executive director of academic policy, planning and strategic initiatives, who leads UNIVER/CITY 2030.

"We're trying to avoid getting stuck in a model where data is collected in a portal or a repository without a community around it, where there's no connection to collective action," he says.

"We have two objectives: one is aggregating and sharing data, and the other is converting the insights that we can draw from this data into action - based on the fact that we have a broader pool of data, data that is higher quality, more granular and coming from more sources."

Connections to Concordia's other climate action work

The Climate Data Hub is one piece of an emerging portfolio of high-impact climate-related initiatives at Concordia, including a range of efforts at the NGCI as well as Volt-Age, the university's electrification research program.

Disaggregated emissions data will help to accelerate these other initiatives, according to Ursula Eicker, who is NGCI's director and member of the Volt-Age Scientific Committee.

"The NGCI's Tools4Cities software suite, which allows different kinds of users to simulate policy or planning or behaviour changes in a digital model of our city, is highly dependent on good data from a wide variety of sources," she says. "The Climate Data Hub will make it much easier to supply these tools with the data they need to be accurate and effective."

Emissions-related data sharing is also important to Volt-Age. Secure data sharing increases access to vital information for crafting policies, regulations and innovations related to the energy transition.

The Climate Data Hub received seed grant funding from Volt-Age this spring to support its work to build a climate data collaborative where participants from different sectors  exchange their data to create public value. The seed grant project is being led by Damon Matthews, professor of geography, planning and environment and Concordia Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability.

Data as a community resource

One of the fundamental principles of the Climate Data Hub is that in a time of climate emergency, data needs to be mutualized to help address collective action challenges.

"Developing the right framework for responsible community governance of data and technology is essential to ensuring that these resources are used to advance the common good," Landry says. "And finding a way to enlist the participation of a wide range of organizations in this kind of trust framework is essential to this project."

Learn more about Concordia's Next-Generation Cities Institute, UNIVER/CITY 2030 initiative and Volt-Age.

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