W13: Open geospatial tools and methods in environmental modeling and management

organised by Ari Jolma and Ned Horning


Title: Free and Open Source Geospatial Tools for Environmental Modeling and Management

Authors: A. Jolma, D.P. Ames, N. Horning, M. Neteler, A. Racicot and T. Sutton

Abstract: Geospatial software tools (GIS) are used for creating, viewing, managing, analyzing, and utilizing geospatial data. Geospatial data can include socio-economic, environmental, geophysical, and technical data about the Earth and societal infrastructure and it is pivotal in environmental modeling and management (EMM). Desktop, web-based, and embedded geospatial tools and systems have become an essential part of EMM. Environmental simulation models often require pre- or post-processing of geospatial data, or they can be tightly linked to a GIS, using it as a graphical user interface (GUI). Many local, regional, national, and international efforts are underway to create geospatial data infrastructures and tools for viewing and using geospatial data. When environmental attribute data is linked to these infrastructures, powerful tools for environmental management are instantly created. The growing culture of free and open source software (FOSS) provides an alternative approach to software development also in the field of GIS (FOSS4G). For a systematic look at FOSS4G for EMM platforms, software stacks, and EMM workflows need to be analyzed. Platform is a service abstraction on which software stacks are built. A software stack for FOSS4G comprises system software, data processing tools, data serving tools, user interface tools, and end-user applications. Digital map creation, support for numerical modeling, and geospatial information systems are main areas of use for FOSS4G in EMM. The dividing line between FOSS and proprietary software is fuzzy, partly because it is in the interest of developers of proprietary software to make it fuzzy and partly because the end-users are getting reluctant to buy software. In the FOSS world the barriers to interoperability are low and thus the software stack tends to be thicker than in the proprietary platform. The FOSS4G world thrives on the evolution of software stacks and platforms. Our examples show that it is possible to build software stacks from current FOSS4G to support EMM workflows. In the examples we mention for example how a particular funding agency has chosen FOSS4G solutions because of the opportunities to redistribute resulting modeling tools freely to end-users and to support general goals of openness and transparency with respect to modeling tools.

Title: Building a Community Modeling and Information Sharing Culture

Authors: Alexey Voinov, Raleigh R. Hood, and John D. Daues


Title: A Spacial Decision Support System For Performance Evaluation Of Urban Draining Systems

Authors: Marie Eugenie Malzac Batista, Tarciso Silva

Abstract: This work is about the elaboration of an urban drainage performance indicator named Idu, which is integrated to a Geographic Information System (GIS) tool that makes possible a Spacial Decision Support System. This indicator is a sub-index of ISA/JP - Environmental Health Indicator (Batista, 2005). For the calculation of Idu, it is considered the state of the streets in an urban sector of a neighborhood regarding the possibility of flood occurrences, imperfections and pavements that may exist. The occurrences of flooding or overflow are evaluated by the analysis of information gathered from local people and/or observation visits made in the occasion of rainy periods. The relative importance of each one of the intervening phenomena is considered by direct research of the real state market professionals. A performance classification is adopted for the values of Idu. A GIS is used for the calculations and spatialization of the information. Its application may be usef! ul as an instrument of urban planning and for determination of infra-structural investment priorities. It is initially applied in coastal neighborhoods of Jo?o Pessoa city, Brazil. The results showed that the neighborhoods of Bessa and Aeroclube had the worse relative performance of urban draining quality; Cabo Branco, Tamba? and Mana?ra had presented the best performance.

Title: Integrated Open Source GIS systems in the environmental non-profit world

Authors: Aaron Racicot

Abstract: While the availability of Open Source GIS tools is becoming more prevalent, there has yet to emerge a complete Open Source GIS solution that links all of these tools into a coherent package. The needs of many non-profit environmental organizations align well with the Open Source model, yet it is also not clear how many Open Source GIS tools fit into the structure and strategic goals of these organizations. This paper attempts to look at many of the important cost considerations, including both monetary and ancillary costs, which these non-profit organizations must understand when considering the use of Open Source GIS tools. Cost structure of utilizing GIS tools tops the list of decision criteria for most non-profit organizations who are considering GIS infrastructure changes. We will break down the total cost structure of utilizing Open Source GIS tools in a non-profit organization by breaking down the general workflows of interest. The four main workflows of int! erest included in this analysis are cartographic map production, web-based mapping, integrated data management, and decision support tools. Through a bottom-up analysis of total cost we will show that Open Source GIS is well suited for many of the tasks desired by environmental non-profits and highlight many opportunities for better integration of individual tools working toward a truly integrated Open Source GIS package. Finally, a case study will be presented highlighting the use of Open Source GIS within an environmental non-profit called Ecotrust. Ecotrust is currently developing an integrated Open Source GIS system to support ongoing community based efforts of restoration and preservation of the Siuslaw Watershed in Oregon. We will look at how Open Source GIS is being used in all four of the common workflows mentioned above and how the associated cost analysis has shown the value of this technology for the organization.

Title: Free and open source software as a platform for environmental modeling and management

Authors: Ari Jolma

Abstract: A platform is a set of interoperable technologies on top of which applications can be built. The GNU and other free and open source (FOSS) software make up a platform. The interoperability between them can be achieved with many techniques. In this paper we are most interested in the scripting or interpreted languages. The main examples of these languages are Perl, Python and Ruby, which are all FOSS. Technologies such XS (Perl) and Swig (all of them) can be used to create scripting interfaces for software libraries. Use of scripting languages are particularly interesting for end-user application developers and user-developers because of their capabilities for rapid application development and disposable programming. Rapid application development is enhanced by FOSS GUI development tools and scripting interfaces to GUI toolkits. Disposable programming is done by command line interfaces linked to interpreters. The relation of these tools to the workflow of modeling ! is discussed. The main discussion items are linking command line and GUI, models as workpieces.

Title: The Open-Source software development paradigm: Nothing new to scientific research

Authors: John Daues

Abstract: The OSS development paradigm, which is similar to traditional scientific research methodology and has also been shown to be productive in a corporate environment, can produce innovative, high-quality software and offers OSS users fundamental control and flexibility advantages. Thus, the OSS development paradigm does indeed apply to scientific research.