Final Report: Public Reporting and Dynamic Access: Changing Regional Environmental Health of South Florida's Everglades EcosystemEPA Grant Number: R827962
Title: Public Reporting and Dynamic Access: Changing Regional Environmental Health of South Florida's Everglades Ecosystem
Investigators: Turcotte, Brian , Pietrucha, Marie
Institution: South Florida Water Management District
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Amount: $488,598
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
The overall goal of this research project was to develop a unified approach among the collaborating agencies for the dissemination of the South Florida Water Management District's hydrologic and water quality data to the general public with an EMPACT pilot project focused on reporting changing health indicator information regarding the Everglades ecosystem.
The specific objective of this research project was to provide a public information and communication network to report the latest environmental information regarding the current changing state of health of the Everglades ecosystem utilizing the Web Site and written information digests distributed to 50 ecosite locations, 27 community colleges, and all public library branch locations in South Florida.
We proposed to provide the public with a specialized data mart focused on information critical to the sustainability of the South Florida Everglades ecosystem. Availability of the data to the cooperating stakeholders enhanced educational opportunities in the principles of environmental protection through augmenting existing educational programs throughout South Florida. The cooperating stakeholders participated in the design of the Web-based implementation, ensuring that the interface will be appropriate for use by the public at large, including elementary- through college-level students. Critical elements of this objective include data management and maintenance, quality assurance of collected data, Web application development to provide opportunities for public data mining and visualization, other appropriate reporting vehicles, and public outreach and educational opportunities provided by the cooperating stakeholders.
We provided the public with an understandable and complete spatial and temporal Web-based interface to hydrologic and water quality data. The South Florida Water Management District currently maintains this critical data and other data, employing rigorous quality assurance techniques. The proposed data mart was afforded the same measure of quality and accuracy. The stated goals were realized through the following accomplishments:
· Established an easy-to-use data mart with essential elements derived from the existing hydrologic and water quality database in a format that will support a Web-based data mining application that integrates the spatial and temporal aspects of the data, and we used emerging database technology, compatible with the agency's relational database management system, to implement a Web-enabled data mart. The District's Geographic Information System (GIS) will be a component of the data mart. The combination of GIS and environmental data provides the basis for a graphical user interface (GUI) that captures user input necessary to build a data mart query through spatial visualization (maps), time window selection, and other data set attributes.
· Used the new combined database and Web technology to communicate hydrologic and water quality data through an external Web site and Web-based Java GUI application, which is fully supported by the database technology. We included the cooperating stakeholders in the design and implementation of the interface, providing for optimal public interaction with the Web site at all educational and interest levels. We also used the stakeholders’ vision to develop a dynamic Web site with future expansion possibilities, and combined spatial and temporal aspects of the data to build an interface that can query the data over space and time.
· Established an environmental reference source on the Web page, which details the District's environmental goals, rationale for action taken, projects in progress, future projects under consideration, and environmental guidelines based on the most current science. We provided a database of District documents of current and planned projects and water supply plans that can be searched by keyword(s) or phrase.
· Provided customized mapping, time series graphics, audio material, and word or phrase search of District documents in the data mart distributed through the Web Site to educate and inform the Web audience on the environmental issues that are impacted by hydrology and water quality, in English and Spanish.
· Provided coordinated outreach and training programs on the contents of the data mart, its Web-based interface and existing educational opportunities for teachers, media professionals, scientists, and the public through the efforts of cooperating stakeholders and the District.
The selected technology can effectively solve the technical challenges presented. Many skill sets were required, in combination, to make a comprehensive Web site as proposed. The challenge of coordinating subcontractors may be overcome by a single award. An internal marketing and awareness campaign is required to gain organizational efficiency. Metadata capture must be made easy to make the search engine most effective. Documents should be associated with their own "permanent" spatial footprint to avoid maintenance efforts when associated geometries change.