A scientific cooperation program between INPE (Brazil´s National Institute for Space Research) and ifgi (Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Münster, Germany)
The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and the Institute for GeoInformatics (ifgi) have cooperated for several years, e.g., in two ALFA projects, continuous research contacts, conference organization, exchange of teaching, and student mobility measures. This joint project aims to combine their research teams to develop a joint research agenda for modelling change.
The big question: How is the Earth’s environment changing, and what are the consequences for human civilization?
image source: IGBP
Geographic Information Science (GIScience) has evolved from research on automated mapping to a science concerned with information about processes in the human environment. Technologies like Earth observation satellites, sensor networks, and mobile devices are generating vast amounts of data about the environment, but scientists and decision makers lack sound theories of change and models to represent and interpret it. Traditional approaches model change by intermediate results (snap shots) of ongoing processes, rather than representing the processes themselves. Yet, decisions in society, institutions, and by individuals depend increasingly on information on processes and change in the environment. This joint research proposal will therefore target GIScience methods for Dynamic Environmental Processes. These methods will integrate sensor data management, process models, ubiquitous computing technology, and semantic interoperability techniques. Together, they will provide modeling and reasoning capacity to support domain experts in observing, understanding, decision-making, and acting on changes in the environment. Two application domains will be addressed, namely Amazonian Land Use and Cover Change, and Global Climatic and Environmental Changes Studies. The various aspects of change models and their connections will be investigated through workpackages addressing the following research questions:
A presentation on the overall research program and on base line results for the first work package can be found herejrc_talk_on_modeling_change.pdf.
The research questions above address relevant open issues ranging from dynamic data collection through modeling to decision making. Answering them will lead to a better understanding of domain-dependent and domain-independent properties of change, both on the scientific as well as on the societal level. Already on the sensor level it is important to choose appropriate abstraction levels (question 1); based on the collected sensor data appropriate models of dynamic processes have to be developed (question 2); this will lead to the identification and modeling of more abstract spatial patterns of change (question 3); finally, the developed models have to be shared amongst experts and decision makers, and the results of the models have to be made transparent to various stakeholders (question 4). By addressing all these aspects of change that are involved in decision processes, this research program will have strong scientific, technological and societal impacts. We will provide a better understanding of the important properties of change and the underlying dynamic processes. In addition, we will develop and provide GIS methods and tools that incorporate representations of change as well as interactions with the models, and eventually help policy makers to take informed decisions in a more transparent way.
Successful cooperation requires personal acquaintance and trust, which is why it has been propelled at a 10 day joint research seminar of the two groups in Brazil in March 2009. The event's main goal was to create a shared research agenda and outline a program to pursue it.
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