TAIAO: Time-Evolving Data Science / Artificial Intelligence for Advanced Open Environmental Science

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The TAIAO project (Time-Evolving Data Science / Artificial Intelligence for Advanced Open Environmental Science), led by the University of Waikato, is a data science programme of $13 million (GST exclusive) over 7 years, funded by Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE). It will advance the state-of-the-art in environmental data science by developing new machine learning methods for time series and data streams that are able to deal with large quantities of big data in real time, which are tailored to deal with data collected on the New Zealand environment. It will build a new open source framework to implement machine learning on time series data, provide an open available repository with datasets to improve reproducibility in environmental data science, and build capability in fundamental and applied data science, accessible to all New Zealanders.

This programme is a new collaboration between the Universities of Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury, Beca and MetService and includes world-leading data scientists, data engineers, and environmental scientists. We will work with regional councils, iwi and co-governance entities to implement the methods we develop to support governance and management decisions with analyses based on large volumes of data that they cannot currently process. We will also make use of our existing strong international collaborations to grow our own data science capabilities and attract top international researchers to work with us on challenging data science problems.


TAIAO Vision

Our vision is to enable the next level of data science to provide robust and fit-for-purpose tools and methods that are accessible and useful to researchers and practitioners across all areas of the New Zealand environment. Our method is to codesign our work with iwi, industry and government, ensuring through pertinent environmental case studies that we maximise benefit, uptake and suitability. Through our training programme, we will enable the next generation of New Zealanders to play a stronger and more useful role in solving the critical environmental problems that face our country. Our internationally-connected research team will make sure that the latest international advances will be adopted and reinvented for our unique environmental setting, while harnessing the passion of our own data science researchers to preserve our famously beautiful lakes, rivers, forests, estuaries and mountains for future generations.

Auckland Canterbury

Our goals

Data are essential to research, understand, set policy for and manage New Zealand’s environment, but environmental data presents many challenges that require new data science methods to overcome them, and a substantial increase in the capability of environmental researchers, governors and managers to use data science in their work. This programme will develop those new methods and build the required capability. In particular, we will focus on developing methods to deal with environmental datasets that are collected in large volumes over time, and must therefore be dealt with as streams that are analysed incrementally, as they are measured, rather than as collections of data that can be analysed all at once. These methods will address underlying characteristics of the data that evolve over time (e.g. due to climatic or ecological changes), and data that are collected at a range of time intervals and spatial scales ranging from broadscale satellite images to singlepoint measurements on the ground, in the water or air. The methods we develop will be interpretable and explainable (to help users understand why an algorithm produces some particular output), identify and understand anomalies (to distinguish “normal” from “unusual” measurements) and quantify uncertainty in algorithm output (to help decision-makers understand how confident they can be in conclusions drawn from the data science methods). To deliver the methods we develop in a form that environmental scientists and managers can use, we will build a new open source framework to do machine learning on time series data, and provide an open access repository of environmental datasets to improve reproducibility in environmental data science. Through workshops, undergraduate and postgraduate research projects within the programme, we will build New Zealand’s capability in fundamental and applied data science relevant to environmental data, from introductory to postdoctoral level.

Canterbury Auckland

Research Aims

We will advance the state-of-the-art of data science by addressing the following three research challenges:


Contact us

General Enquiries: dramirez@waikato.ac.nz