Jefferson Project Description

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What is the Jefferson Project?

As humanity grows ever more cognizant of the effect we and our technology have on the world around us, we also seek to leverage our technology to learn how better to protect our home planet. President Thomas Jefferson once described upstate New York's Lake George as "without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw". The Jefferson Project takes these words to heart, leveraging technology to further our scientific understanding of the lake and the ecosystems around it, including the impact of humans within those ecosystems. By both studying past data, and refining complex models to predict potential futures of Lake George, the Jefferson Project aims to preserve the beauty that Jefferson saw in the water three centuries ago for centuries to come. Moreover, the Project also hopes to lead by example in demonstrating how we can all leverage technology to understand our natural surroundings, and ultimately how to live within an ecosystem and not at odds with it.

This project represents a unique collaboration between field ecologists and lake scientists from The FUND at Lake George, leading technology from IBM, and informaticists and semantic web experts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. An elaborate system of sensors deployed in and around the lake will report data in close to real-time, allowing scientists to monitor the real-world conditions of the ecosystem. Semantically enabled data management systems will assist in keeping the massive amounts of data generated by the sensors organized, to facilitate more streamlined and more accurate analysis. The real-world data gathered will sit alongside data from ecological and climate prediction models - in getting more detailed information about the actual conditions of the lake, scientists will be able to refine their models in order to better plan actions to care for the lake when necessary.

All of this data combined will help provide well-informed answers to seemingly simple questions about Lake George, for example, "What effect does winter road salt have on the water", "What invasive species are having a negative impact on the lake?", or "Is a particular change in the lake the result of a natural cycle, or a sign of a man-made issue?".

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