Integrated systems for environmental monitoring and support for resource management
1.5.1 Components and functions: Data and information collection
1.6 Adaptation of the analysis procedures and activation of the service
APPLICATION EXAMPLES AND CASE STUDIES
2.1 Application tools for environmental monitoring: the experience of GEOBASI the geochemical database of the Tuscany Region
PROSPECTS AND PROPOSALS
3.1 The research and the role of new technologies for environmental monitoring
Environmental data and information have considerable relevance for many applications and services, placing themselves at the basis of programmatic and strategic choices of many important economic sectors. Their operational use, however, requires the availability of advanced technological tools and strict procedures, not always adequately known and fully respected by the operators.
Public and private networks that operate at various territorial and environmental levels normally follow specific procedures, diversified according to operational and functional needs, but often not compliant with the standards recognized by authority in charge. This situation is largely the result of a self-referential attitude which saw the autonomous management of data and information as an element of strength and power.
Only recently, a growing environmental awareness and a greater focus on tools for the prevention of natural disasters have led to the adoption of common principles and the sharing of entire databases, making the information produced by the analysis systems increasingly representative and reliable.
Just as man perceives the external environment elements through their senses and processes them according to their knowledge and beliefs, as well as monitoring systems provide information on the dynamic elements considered by the central system, detecting parameters that are on the beyond our direct control and expanding our space-time dimension. The presence on the market of instrumentation and monitoring and management systems, with a good degree of reliability and at low costs, has opened up new horizons and allowed the creation of integrated solutions, which in certain sectors have become almost pervasive, imposing themselves through 'information and communication technologies (ICT) in the management of small daily activities.
Now it is right to ask ourselves about the principles and guidelines to follow in order to take full advantage of these new systems and how we can at the same time guarantee privacy and security, using data and information, with only apparently local or personal value, for the benefit of all.
In a world in search of new balances, the efficient use of resources is a key element for obtaining environmental and economic sustainability of human activities, at any social or production level. The maximum efficiency, in many fields, is obtained when it is possible to avoid wasting energy and resources, without limiting the access of the various subjects to the desired benefits, safeguarding life forms, ecosystems, people and themselves interests represented by the various legal figures operating in the area.
The control of factors external to the individual subject and the safeguarding of social interests can be entrusted to advanced systems, capable of managing the large amount of data required in an objective and transparent manner, transmitting the summary information necessary to the various actors in the ways and in the opportune times.
Mathematics represents the common language between different worlds, capable of giving voice and weight to different visions, gradually bringing the synthetic and partial image of virtual reality closer to the real one, which over time may itself become increasingly less elusive and indecipherable. Through electronics and information technology, with the definition of shared methodologies and principles, it is possible to effectively manage complex processes and functions, ensuring adequate safety and efficiency standards. The concepts of measurement and evaluation, in fact, are directly connected to the theory of knowledge and to the understanding of natural processes and dynamics, according to the methods proper to mathematical sciences.
The medium and long-term planning justifies the implementation and use of investigation tools and the analysis of elements that could evolve in a different way, changing the context conditions and endangering the achievement of the set objectives. An insufficient availability of data or the presence of errors in the common knowledge base has had and will have serious repercussions on human choices, with economic, environmental, and social implications that are often difficult to quantify. However, real progress necessarily passes from the verification of our hypotheses and from the recognition of current limits.
The increase in the complexity of the procedures or models, induced by the need to consider an increasing number of factors, does not necessarily imply an improvement in the results, if the quality of the data used as input is poor or if the basic knowledge remains insufficient (Taylor and Loescher, 2013). In these cases, it may be appropriate to search for a right simplification, which gives the possibility to understand the elements in play, and manage them in the best way, while accepting a greater degree of approximation.
This approach is particularly advantageous in operational areas in which the first step must be taken towards the rationalization of processes and the objectification of the assessments, but also in more evolved contexts, with due proportions, in the case of we try to integrate solutions of innovative type.
However, regardless of the context, decision support systems (DSS) can be used for the analysis of available data and the extraction of information that is not immediately recognizable (Data Mining), through the reasoned combination of information layers and available auxiliaries data. and the application of principles scientifically accepted and placed at the basis of the decision-making processes of the various managers or the end user. The level of knowledge implemented in the software, represented by procedures, algorithms, indices and models, is transmitted in a clear and transparent way to anyone who wishes to understand how it works, with enormous advantages in terms of possibilities for improvement and progress.
This work aims to provide a description of the research course followed and the tools used by our research group, showing some of the most representative application solutions implemented over the past few years, in the context of both national and international research and development projects. The goal is to give the opportunity for operators in the sector to assess the potential impact that the adoption of such tools could have on the normal activities of environmental resources and economic activities, by increasing the level of knowledge phenomena and, consequently, management skills.
Due to its technical-practical nature, the publication is addressed to the various figures who in various capacities are interested in a more careful and sustainable management of the activities carried out on their own territory of competence or on their property, at any economic level or spatial scale. of reference, from the large administrative unit to the individual private citizen. For all these figures, the new technologies offer the opportunity to take advantage of, or to make, customized or shared solutions with other actors, reducing costs and, at the same time, increasing the validity of their analyzes, thanks to the availability of a wider data base. Entrepreneurs, decision makers and other stakeholders should intercept this opportunity, promoting and supporting research and development projects (R&D projects), in order to create coherent monitoring and support systems, open to multi-functionality and capable of integrating disciplines procedures and tools different. Thanks to interoperability, individuals would be able to take advantage of the most advanced technical solutions and the community to direct and coordinate economic and technical efforts towards solving emerging problems, in a coherent and certainly more effective way than could be done in the absence of shared methods.