IN21B-3712 Semantic eScience for Ecosystem Understanding and Monitoring: The Jefferson Project Case Study

Monitoring and understanding ecosystems such as lakes and their watersheds is becoming increasingly important. Accelerated eutrophication threatens our drinking water sources. Many believe that the use of nutrients (e.g., road salts, fertilizers, etc.) near these sources may have negative impacts on animal and plant populations and water quality although it is unclear how to best balance broad community needs. The Jefferson Project is a joint effort between RPI, IBM and the Fund for Lake George aimed at creating an instrumented water ecosystem along with an appropriate cyberinfrastructure that can serve as a global model for ecosystem monitoring, exploration, understanding, and prediction. One goal is to help communities understand the potential impacts of actions such as road salting strategies so that they can make appropriate informed recommendations that serve broad community needs. Our semantic eScience team is creating a semantic infrastructure to support data integration and analysis to help trained scientists as well as the general public to better understand the lake today, and explore potential future scenarios. We are leveraging our RPI Tetherless World Semantic Web methodology that provides an agile process for describing use cases, identification of appropriate background ontologies and technologies, implementation, and evaluation. IBM is adding its Smart Technology to commercially available sensor network infrastructure along with tools to share, maintain, analyze and visualize observation data. In the context of this sensor infrastructure, we will discuss our semantic approach's contributions in three knowledge representation and reasoning areas: (a) human interventions on the deployment and maintenance of local sensor networks including the scientific knowledge to decide how and where sensors are deployed; (b) integration, interpretation and management of data coming from external sources used to complement the project’s models; and (c) knowledge about simulation results including parameters, interpretation of results, and comparison of results against external data. We will also demonstrate some example queries highlighting the benefits of our semantic approach and will also identify reusable components.

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Associated Projects

The Jefferson Project at Lake George is building one of the world’s most sophisticated environmental monitoring and prediction systems, which will provide scientists and the community with a real-time picture of the health of the lake. Launched in June 2013, the project aims to understand and manage multiple complex factors—including road salt incursion, storm water runoff, and invasive species—all threatening one of the world’s most pristine natural ecosystems and an economic cornerstone of the New York tourism industry.