An innovative use of IT

With a dramatic degradation of natural resources and a rapid development of industrialization and urbanization on a global scale, environmental and sustainable development research has become the most challenging scientific and engineering problem in the 21st century. Key issues of environmentally sound and sustainable development strategies include integration of economic, social and environmental objectives, and development of multi-stakeholder participation, collaborations and partnerships. Successful projects require sufficient information sharing and knowledge integration to provide the basis for rational decision making. One fundamental challenge for such tasks is how to provide participants with the information and knowledge resources when they need them. To deal with the urgency, a new research and education paradigm, which focuses on interdisciplinary research collaborations, information sharing, and knowledge synthesis for different stakeholders in the environmental and sustainable development domain, is required to better understand the complex environmental and sustainable development issues and to effectively provide solutions for the problems. An imminent response to the new paradigm demands a sustainable and reliable information and knowledge management framework for such domains.

The Stanford Environmental Informatics Group addresses an innovative use of information technology (IT) to develop a framework for information sharing among research collaborations, and for information and knowledge access for all stakeholders for environmental and sustainable development tasks. The intellectual merit of the research program includes its emphasis on an information and knowledge representation and integration framework that is both scalable for interdisciplinary research collaborations and adaptive to end users needs for ubiquitous access to appropriate information and knowledge during the decision making process for environmental and sustainable development projects. In addition, the Environmental Informatics group will address research issues in discovering, developing and mining very large databases of observational/simulated data and relevant knowledge, in developing computer simulations and analyses, accessing specialized devices such as sensors and instruments remotely, exchanging information and knowledge instantaneously within distributed multidisciplinary teams, and in synthesizing knowledge for better decision making and policy implementation.

The Environmental Informatics Group is a research group established within Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to serve M.S and Ph.D students who are interested in theoretical and/or applied aspects of information and knowledge management for environmental engineering and sustainable development from a multidisciplinary perspective.