S5: Integrated software solutions for environmental problems - architecture, frameworks and data structures (ISESS)


Title: Collaborative Design and Implementation of Data Retrieval and Processing Software for Environmental Modeling Using Open Source Technology

Authors: Daniel Ames, Gerry Laniak, Russel Kinerson, Jo Ellen Brandmeyer, Jack Kittle

Abstract: Recognizing the increasingly limiting reality of reduced funding and increasing data needs for integrated environmental models several modeling groups at EPA have joined together to co-develop open source software to access, retrieve, process, and prepare internet-based data for model consumption. Using the open source GIS product, MapWindow, as the core open source GIS and visualization engine, modelers from the Office of Water, the Office of Research and Development, and Idaho State University are designing a three tiered software system that includes; a core layer of tools and utilities for accessing a full range of data related functionality; a layer that utilizes the core and provides integrated software for processing use case scenarios; and a thin layer that represents a graphical user interface that implements use cases and produces model-specific input data files. The software system is designed around Use Case Scenarios that describe the step-by-step procedures necessary to populate model input files. A particular goal of the collaboration is to develop both the core layer and the use case scenario layer as completely re-usable and inter-operable software. A presentation that describes the challenges and benefits of the co-development process and technology will be followed by a demonstration of the software as implemented within the 3MRA and BASINS modeling systems to populate input files for watershed and surface water models, including HSPF, SWAT, EXAMS, and 3MRA/WatershedModel.

Title: The WaterBase Project

Authors: Chris George

Abstract: The WaterBase project is an ongoing project of the United Nations University. Its aim is to advance the practice of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in developing countries. Predictive modelling and decision support for water management in developing countries is plagued with a number of related problems: lack of money, lack of expertise, inadequate training capacity, dependence on experts from other countries. At the same time water resources are under increasing pressure, and aquatic ecosystems are being damaged by people who lack the resources to explore the consequences of decisions before they are made. Modelling tools are available, and have a proven success record in many countries. But they are typically difficult to use, require a lot of data, and are very expensive to buy. At the same time there is increasing availability on the internet of free GIS data, and standard PCs have processing speeds and storage capacities that make modelling on relatively cheap and common hardware feasible. The WaterBase project aims to exploit this situation, in three phases. In the first, current phase a free, open source tool for hydrological modelling and scenario exploration is being developed. The tool is intended to be instantiable anywhere in the world using GIS data from the web, supplemented by more detailed local data if it is available. This tool is essentially a demonstrator, but will be usable by third parties. In an overlapping second phase, partner institutions will be sought, especially from developing countries, who will use the tool, provide feedback, and provide requirements and perhaps also effort for the third phase. The third phase, for which external funding will be sought, will develop the tool further according to the requirements that have been identified. It will also work on a metadata scheme for organising the various kinds of data that modelling requires. Finally, to improve training capacity, WaterBase tools will be integrated with the UNU's Water Virtual Learning Centre, by developing a module on "Watershed Informatics".