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Annual Project Review 1997

Part A. Synopsis of Work Undertaken

This section is designed to draw the attention of the Annual Project Review to the key elements of the project. Supporting information is included in Annex 6.

A.1 Objectives of the project

The objectives of the ECOSIM project are to implement an integrated urban environmental management decision support system. The general objectives are to:

  • obtain a system whose utility is sufficiently demonstrated that existing and/or new users (urban authorities) are willing to fund further development of the Demonstrator;

  • obtain a system which is capable of up-grade (perhaps within 2 years) to a commercial product or set of products;

  • demonstrate that greater insight has been obtained by the validation users into their own particular environmental issues;

  • demonstrate that the level of integration between data sources and (sub)domains has been achieved.

More specific objectives related to its modes of operation are that:
  • a demonstrator should be constructed which allows models and data to be used and/or analyzed on a day-to-day basis for urban environmental planning and management. As a consequence, the system should deliver results interactively, or, for more demanding simulations and in particular forecasts, on a time scale of one hour at most;

  • a demonstrator should be constructed which allows forecasting of pollution levels based on recent, measured data. Within several (2-4 maximally) hours of receiving its latest data from (potentially remote) monitoring stations, the system should be able to forecast with a time horizon of 12-24 hours.

    ECOSIM is not intended to support real-time operation as part of the demonstrator although the migration path to this capability should be clear from the results of the project and the major technical risks and costs understood.

Progress against the objectives

Considerable progress was made in the development and testing, with data from the case study cities, of the component models. Specific progress was made in the implementation of

  • REGOZON ( ozone forecasting in Berlin)
  • MEMO/DYMOS (detailed coupled 3D simulation models)
  • MEMO/MUSE (ozone simulation in Athens)
  • POM (coastal water quality simulation in Athens)
  • an on-line link to the Berlin monitoring network BLUME.


At the same time, work on the development of an integrated Demonstrator (next scheduled release: R0.4) has made sufficient progress to start the on-site validation phase. For this phase, a final Validation Plan has been prepared.

A.2 Work done

During the reporting period (January 1997 to October 1997), work on the Work Packages described below was in progress.

The work progress for the period January to June 1997 is described in the
ECOSIM Progress Report of July 1997.

  • WP 01: Project Management:
    • Changes to the project working plan (Preparation of the new Project Programme (Technical Annex);
      (The TA was completed and submitted to the Commission by February 1997; the documents were processed by the Commission for signature by the parters by October 1997).

    • Continuing maintenance of the ECOSIM Project Web Server:
      http://www.ess.co.at/ECOSIM More than 20,000 full-page GET requests (on .html files only) have been recorded during the period January to October 1997.

    • maintenance of the ECOSIM mail group (ecosim@ess.co.at and ecotech@ess.co.at) more than 1,120 messages exchanged between the project partners have accumulated in the respective mail folder to date.

  • WP 02: Dissemination and User Group Activities:
    • participation in the 4th TAP Concertation Meeting

    • participation in ETMC5 Meeting

    • preparation of user group mailing lists, design and production of a project brochure: a total of 359 addresses of institutions and individual across Europe was compiled. They cover 36 countries, and represent the following target groups:

      National Organisations 126
      International and EU Organisations 46
      Ministries, government agencies 59
      City administrations 16
      Academic institutions 57
      Companies, consultants 55

    • update of web server, installation of interactive User Group registration form on the ECOSIM web server (http://www.ess.co.at/ECOSIM/registration.html), implementation of a full-text search facility for the ECOSIM web pages (http://www.ess.co.at/ECOSIM/search.html).

    • presentations of ECOSIM, e.g., at the 1st Int. SATURN Workshop (a subproject of EUROTRAC-2) in Thessaloniki, Greece, August 1997, and. "Athens Air Quality", in Pollutec 97, Paris, October 1997; and during a workshop of the Greek "Human Network for Air Pollution Simulation-HYDRA" held in Athens, Greece, during April 1997.

  • WP 04: Definition of Functional Specifications
    • Delivery of the draft final version of Deliverable D04.02, Specification of Electronic Interfaces by the CEO; the draft report analyzed connectivity and bandwidth of the network connections (Internet) between the project partners' sites.

      The conclusions from the report (basically insufficient reliability and bandwidth of normal Internet connections during working hours for the specific purpose of ECOSIM, attempting a reliable connection over longer periods of time (several hours) with intermittent transfer of packages up to several hundred K, approching MB dimension for each singel model time-step transfer) will lead to a reconsideration of the operational implementation of the ECOSIM Demonstrator, with emphasis either on dedicated ISDN connections and/or on fully integrated or LAN accessible models.

  • WP 05: Building the Demonstrator
    • implementation of a new Demonstrator Release (R0.3 April 1997)

    • implementation of fully integrated http client-server protocol and test example (GMD-ESS);

    • implementation of new observation data (time series) for Athens

    • development and implementation of the scenario definition and model output display for REGOZON and POM, client-server communication protocol

    • local integration of the air-quality forecasting model REGOZON and the coastal water quality model POM

    • design of communication protocols and cgi scripts for DYMOS, MEMO, and MUSE.

  • WP 06: Validation Berlin:
    • preparation of data and models (REGOZON, MEMO/DYMOS) for Berlin
    • definition of validation scenarios
    • contributions to the project validation plan

  • WP 07: Validation Athens:
    • sensitivity analysis on the coupling of POM and MEMO (see also the Report from the Athens Meeting, Management Board and Technical Meeting, April 1997)

    • definition of validation scenarios (see also: Athens Validation Scenarios).

    • preparation of data and models for Athens:

      • data sets for POM and standard hydrographic scenarios have been prepared - (see also: POM (Report by the University of Athens on coastal water quality simulation in Athens)

      • all model runs (MEMO & MUSE) have been completed

      • comparison with measurements has been completed for air quality data

      • statistical analysis activities for air quality data have been undertaken

      • emission reduction-control scenario analysis has already provided a significant output

    • contribution to the project validation plan
    A summary of the activities of AUT for the Athens case study and related activities for Berlin is provided in a separate report.

  • WP 08: Validation Gdansk:
    • preparation of data and models for Gdansk
      • basic data have been made available to both AUT and GMD

  • WP 09: Exploitation Plan:
    • identification of potential users (address data base)

  • WP 10: Evaluation:
    • the final version of the Validation Plan (Deliverable D10.01) was submitted to Brussels
    • participation in the 3rd Special Workshop on Evaluation/Validation
    • participation in the MEGATAQ Workshop of the MEGATAQ Project (TE 2007)
    • participation and presentations at ETCM5 (Environmental Telematics Concertation Meeting) in September in Brussels

A.3 Problems encountered

The withdrawal of the initial coordinator Smith as a consequence of the red-flag procedure and in-depth review in December 1996 has led to the need to prepare a modified Technical Annex for the project and reissue the contracts. This resulted in unexpected delays both in the first reimbursement payments (against the January to June 1996 cost statements) as well as in issuing the INCO contract and advance payment for the Polish partners.

As a consequence, delays in the Polish case study, and serious cash flow problems for most partners have resulted, leading to reduced activities in several areas, in particular for technical meetings and staff exchange (travel expenses).

On the technical side, difficulties arose from the fact that end users in Athens and Berlin do not have access to the hardware specified for the project (see: ECOSIM Hardware and Software Specifications). The porting to alternative architectures will lead to additional costs, and possibly some minor delays of schedule. It should, however, not pose a major problem.

A second technical problem emerged from the analysis of the CEO results on (Internet) connectivity and bandwidth (see: Deliverable D04.2, Specification of Electronic Interfaces. In its conclusions, the Report states:

During the limited time period of measurement the connections between the three sites, via Internet, were poor. Execution of the latency code continually failed to provide benchmark results due to broken connections. In the light of this unreliability it would appear that using the Internet for the http based communication between servers is inappropriate. However, it should be kept in mind that there are ongoing schemes to improve connectivity bandwidth such as TEN-34, which should improve the situation and the shift to persistent connection support under http.

As a consequence, the original idea of using the more demanding models MEMO and DYMOS through on-line Internet based connections seems impractical. Since, at the same time, MEMO can not be made available for installation Berlin or Gdansk, alternative solutions have to be sought. These solutions include:

  • use of (dedicated and reliable) ISDN peer-to-peer connections instead of the standard Internet;

  • implementation of the models within a high-bandwidth (local-area) network accessible to the end users;

  • more emphasis on the faster (and locally implemented) forecasting models for operational use, possibly using pre-computed scenarios of the meteorological simulation model as scenario input for analysis purposes.

A.4 Changes to the project plan

Changes to the original Project Programme resulted from the requirements of the reviewers in the in-depth review to fully integrate the two models of the water domain, the coastal simulation model POM, and the set of ground water models HELP/MODFLOW/MTD-3, which the original work program proposed as feasibility studies only.

The feasibility analysis undertaken on the potential benefits of coupling the atmospheric simulation model MEMO and the ocean model POM lead to the conclusions that such a coupling has no noticeable effect on model results. From the minutes of the Athens meeting:

Wind/ocean coupling: according to the sensitivity analysis, a coupling of POM surface temperatures to MEMO does NOT lead to significant changes in the wind field. It was therefor concluded that a coupling of MEMO and POM is not useful. The reverse coupling of distributed wind fields on POM is still under investigation, depending on AUT making appropriate wind fields (MEMO output) available to UA on the appropriate model grid.

A.5 User Representation Groups

The ECOSIM consortium includes three representative end users, namely the Stadtsenat Berlin, the Ministry for the Environment of Greece in Athens, and the City Board of Gdansk (see also: Annex 1, project partners). User requirements from these end users directly involved in the project provide valuable input for the design and implementation.

The end users are also directly involved in the on-site validation phase of the project, see below.

In addition to the basic group of user within the project, ECOSIM tries to identify a larger, external group as well. For this purpose, a larger address data base of potential users and clients, based on the original ECOSIM questionnaire mailing list was compiled. The ECOSIM project folder is being sent to this group to identify interested institutions and individuals.

In parallel, an on-line registration form has been installed on the ECOSIM web server; entries are automatically appended to an address data base.

A.6 Validation Activities

As a first step in the validation activities, the Validation Plan was prepared by ESS and made available to the project participants through an on-line implementation on the web server. This document provides the basis for the on-site validation by end users and user support partners.

The next scheduled release of the demonstrator (R0.4) is intended as the basis for this on-site validation. According to the revised project work plan and schedule, a period of up to six month is foreseen for extensive on-site validation.

  • Description of demonstrator:
    ECOSIM Demonstrator Release R0.4. This release will be configured with customized functionality for each of the three validation sites: Berlin, Athens, and Gdansk as a subset of the total potential functionality of the system, making sure that only applicable models are available to the user.

  • Sectors (applications) involved
    The Demonstrators applies to:

    • monitoring data analysis
    • atmospheric modeling
    • air quality including photochemical smog
    • groundwater quality
    • coastal water quality
  • Sites:

    • Berlin
    • Athens
    • Gdansk
  • Number and type of users:
    42; primarily city government and Ministry of the Environment employees with technical and administrative functions.

  • Technologies used:

    • client-server, Internet/Intranet
    • multi-media, hypertext
    • advanced simulation modeling (dynamic 3D models)
    • parallel and cluster computing
    • GIS and spatial modeling
    • interactive DSS
  • Evaluation methodology/results:
    refer to Validation Plan, D10.01

  • Feedback, potential uptake, extensions of the work etc.
    positive feedback by end-user in response to early prototype demonstrations

  • Mechanism for user acceptance and validation:
    on-site demonstration and test phase, physical coercion.

A.7 Cooperation activities with other projects and programme Sectors

ECOSIM was represented in several TAP concertation meetings and participates actively in a number of working groups.

Specific collaboration is foreseen with REMSBOT, that shares Athens as a test site and air quality as a domain with ECOSIM. Among the plans for cooperation is the option of a joint presentation on the systems synergies at the next concertation meeting (systems architecture group).

A.8 Contribution to the application domain

Will be analyzed as part of the Validation Phase.

A.9 Dissemination activities and exploitation plans

Dissemination of results are achieved through:

  • maintenance of the ECOSIM project web site
  • participation in a number of scientific meetings and the presentation of research papers related to the project, for example:
    • participation in the 4th TAP Concertation Meeting
    • participation in ETMC5 Meeting
    • presentations of ECOSIM, e.g., at the 1st Int. SATURN Workshop (a subproject of EUROTRAC-2) in Thessaloniki, Greece, August 1997, and. "Athens Air Quality", in Pollutec 97, Paris, October 1997; and during a workshop of the Greek "Human Network for Air Pollution Simulation-HYDRA" held in Athens, Greece, during April 1997.
  • wide distribution of an ECOSIM project leaflet to a target group of 360 institutions and individuals across Europe.
  • intensive contacts with the ECOSIM user group, identified from the target group above.

In general, dissemination of the results of the work will occur via the users and the exploiters of the project. Unlike companies, city administrations are not in competition with each other and therefore are most willing to share experiences and build up a portfolio of best practice from which all may benefit. The frequent formal and informal contacts between the managers responsible for using ECOSIM and their counterparts in other cities will ensure the rapid dissemination of success. The commercial partners in the project earn their living not by exploiting technology themselves but by selling it to end-users. Unlike large manufacturing companies, these partners depend on the dissemination of the results for the project to be worth undertaking.

A.10 Details of patent applications

n/a

A.11 Contribution to Telematics Applications Programme objectives

ECOSIM is aligned with the objectives of Task EN2.3 of the Telematics Application Workprogramme (Environmental Management Support Systems).

It advances the basic methodology of environmental management information systems and decision support systems, and provides a generic approach and set of tools, demonstrated in three case study applications under realistic day-to-day operational conditions.

  • What is the economic and social impact of the project?
    The proposed project offers the tools for a rational response to urban environmental challenges and has economic and social impact at four levels. At each level, the effect of carrying out the project in the way proposed is to act as a multiplier, greatly enhancing the effectiveness of the investment:

    • technological level: There is relatively little new technological development in the proposed work but its effect is multiplied by being carried out within the context of the project. Both the strong user input and the constraints of the existing tools and techniques will ensure that the development elements of the work have much greater impact than they would if carried out in isolation.

    • synthesis level: Most of the technological work involves bringing together existing tools and techniques from several domains. Relatively small investments in this way result in great improvements in the utility and effectiveness of the tools working together and by the much greater insight obtained from a synthetic view of an ecosystem.

    • exploitation level: The project involves the immediate exploitation of its results in three cities, each of which has a different level of pre-existing capability. There is thus a multiplier of three within the project itself as well as any subsequent commercial exploitation.

    • commercial level: The project team is firmly located in the commercial world of exploiting advanced technology. The commercial incentives and robust team management will ensure that maximum use is made of the operational capabilities that emerge from the work.

  • How does the project contribute to the European Union policies?
    The results of ECOSIM should offer a contribution to two of the projects of the Multi-annual Work Programme of the European Environment Agency. These are Project A1 (Setting up the European air quality monitoring network and database) and Project IA9 (Compilation and use of environmental information in urban areas). It should also contribute to achieving the objectives of sustainability in the urban environment as it provides the information base which allows local authorities to rise to the challenge that the environmental problems of many cities and towns pose today, and to assist them to find the best way of doing this (quoted from Towards sustainability, Com(92) 23).

    These two areas of application within the policies of the Union indicate the economic importance of ECOSIM and other projects which apply information management techniques to environmental data. The costs of responding to environmental threats are high and can only be justified if the consequences of the response can accurately be understood and predicted. An insufficient response will not solve the environmental problem and an excessive one will be very expensive. Of perhaps even greater economic importance is that a delayed response may not only allow the environmental problem to grow to be more serious but will increase the eventual cost of corrective action.

  • How does the project contribute to the competitiveness of industry?
    The Framework programme is the stimulus since it requires the individual actors to pursue a goal which is outside their own direct interests. The Telematics programme provides financial support and a context within which the work can occur and thus ECOSIM is a direct consequence of the additionality of Framework. ECOSIM will generate industrial competitiveness in the area of environmental monitoring and management whilst simultaneously contributing to immediate problems in those areas which other Union policies seek to address. Its strong user involvement will provide both a focus for the orientation of the project and an immediate path for its exploitation.

  • How does the project contribute to meeting the needs of identified users?
    The ECOSIM consortium includes, as partners, end users from three cities. Their participation was and is encouraged by offering them a customized operational prototype to support their day-to-day environmental planning activities.

    In addition, ECOSIM is based on a careful evaluation of a Europen-wide questionnaire that provided initial user requirements for the project's design.

  • How is the project's exploitation going to contribute to the sector domain activities?
    Pending clarification of what sector domain activities are, ECOSIM will contribute through its exploitation.

  • What is the Involvement of SMEs in the projects and is the work oriented towards the special needs of this sector?
    The project coordinator, Architecture Manager, Validation Manager, the main systems integrator and two of the subcontractors are all SMEs in Austria, Greece and Germany, respectively.
    Commercial exploitation will foreseeable be done primarily by these SMEs.

  • How has the project encouraged the involvement of users in the project and benefited from their presence?
    The ECOSIM consortium includes, as partners, end users from three cities. Their participation was and is encouraged by offering them a customized operational prototype to support their day-to-day environmental planning activities.

  • What is the European added-value of the project, in terms of inter-operability and multilingual services and products?
    Designed to support the implementation of European Directives, ECOSIM offers a generic solution applicable across Europe. Support of multiple languages as a data driven option is supported by the ECOSIM architecture.

    ECOSIM is by its very nature a collaborative European project. This works at two levels:

    • its aim is to transfer established technology to areas of Europe which do not yet benefit from such services;
    • it depends on a combination of skills and experience which can only be found by bringing together companies, experts and users in several countries.

    The first of these explains its potential impact on European economic and social policies. Social cohesion requires best practices to be shared and disseminated throughout the Union. By combining technology transfer and local exploitation, it is possible to satisfy simultaneously the requirement for action at Union level and subsidiary. By exploiting multi-media data from ESA and other agencies, the project also incorporates competent international organisations (Art 130r, Treaty on European Union).

    The specific environmental benefits arising from ECOSIM are considered in the context of European environmental requirements in Section 2.7 of this document. It is useful also to examine how the project can contribute more generally to the Information Society in Europe. The key to a more efficient and competitive economy for Europe will be the ever-greater exploitation of information. This in turn requires the systematic transformation of data into information. Data represents the raw product but information provides a basis for decision-making. ECOSIM will help to demonstrate the power of information to a group of users whose experience to date has largely been confined to administrative information. By giving them interactive access to detailed information on a variety of environmental indicators and the information management tools to manipulate and display that information, they will be able to appreciate the potential for such techniques in other applications. Environmental management is politically important and attracts much interest from the media (especially when something goes seriously wrong) and the use of advanced tools in this area might be expected to attract wide publicity and interest.


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