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Annual Project Review 1998

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.

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

According to the time table and work schedule of ECOSIM as defined in the Revised Project Programme and the six month extension of the project duration, the project is continuing until end of December 1998 with the

  • continuation of Project Phase 2c, Validation;
  • continuation of Project Phase 3, Exploitation Planning;
  • continuation of WP 10, Evaluation.

In view of the administrative and financial problems due to the contract amendment procedure (reimbursement payments for the first half of 1996, and the period July 1996 to June 1997 still outstanding, and the considerable delay in starting the Polish participation under the parallel INCO contract) the project has obtained, without any budgetary implication, an extension of its duration for a period of six months (to the end of 1998), in particular to enable the Polish case study for Gdansk to proceed together with the ongoing validation for Berlin and Athens.

This objective could be met.

A.2 Work done

During the reporting period (January 1998 to December 1998), work on the Work Packages described below was in progress.

The main tasks and work packages for 1998 were the continuation of the Project Validation Phase (Project Phase 2c), with the on-site validation in Berlin, Athens, and Gdansk, the exploitation planning, and the final evaluation phase.

Basis for the validation phase is the ECOSIM Demonstrator Release R0.5, and the final Demonstrator Release 1.0, currently in operation at the three validation sites.

The work progress for the period January to June 1998 is described in the
ECOSIM Progress Report of July 1998.

  • WP 01: Project Management:
    • Changes to the project working plan in order to adapt the Project Programme to the 6 months extension.

    • Continuing maintenance of the ECOSIM Project Web Server:
      http://www.ess.co.at/ECOSIM More than 50,000 full-page GET requests (on .html files only) have been recorded during the period January to December 1998.

    • maintenance of the ECOSIM mail group (ecosim@ess.co.at and ecotech@ess.co.at) more than 2.000 messages exchanged between the project partners have accumulated in the respective mail folder to date.

  • WP 02: Dissemination and User Group Activities:
    • participation and demo at the Barcelona TAP Meeting

    • participation in the TAP Concertation Meetings

    • participation in the ENWAP Meetings (Szentendre, Brussels)

    • 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).

  • WP 05: Building the Demonstrator
    • implementation of a new Demonstrator Release (R1.0 April 1998)

    • 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:

    Objective:
    To validate the operation of the ECOSIM demonstrator within the scenario B1 defined for its use at the Berlin validation site.

    Initial activity did cover the detailed definition, at a technical level, of the existing environmental monitoring/modeling infrastructure at the validation site. This was used to clarify what is feasible using existing elements before detailed objectives and plans were defined for the validation activity. This was based on the scenario B1 defined for Berlin and the existing networks and databases identified in the Integration plan (see below). This WP also did include some development of site-specific elements of the Demonstrator, in particular linkage to the BLUME network, and modification due to the requirements to run the REGOZON forecasting model locally rather than over the Internet. Validation activity such as evaluation of model scenarios did commence prior to completion of WP5 (building the Demonstrator).

    The validation activity did comprise two elements: verification and demonstration. The verification process could confirm that the demonstrator implements the specified user requirements. The demonstration activity did allow urban authorities (Stadtsenat Berlin) to use, and be trained on the demonstrator.

    This did facilitate feedback on the validity of the agreed requirements, their method of implementation, new requirements and the general acceptability of the system for operational use.

    Based on the generic Validation Plan to be used at all three validation sites in parallel, some modifications to the general specifications were prepared in consultation with the local users to define the detailed criteria for success of the verification activity. This did include comparison of ECOSIM results with those derived from measurements. Tests were then conducted against these criteria. During the demonstration phase, ECOSIM was operational for a period of ~3 months at the validation site during which time, local users could be trained and assisted in its operation. The result are described in detail in the Report on Validation (Berlin).

    The demonstration activity is itself a deliverable. The report prepared on the validation activity summarizes the results achieved, lessons learned, and valuable suggestions for improvement.

    Associated Deliverables:
    D06.01: Report on validation (Berlin) (GMD)
    D06.02: Demonstration (Berlin) (GMD)

  • WP 07: Validation Athens:

    Objective:
    To validate the operation of the ECOSIM demonstrator within the scenario(s) defined for its use at the Athens validation site.

    Initial activity did cover the detailed definition, at a technical level, of the existing environmental monitoring/modeling infrastructure at the validation site as well as the validation scenarios. This was based on the scenarios A1-A3 defined for Athens and the existing networks and databases.

    This WP did also include some development of site-specific elements of the demonstrator. In particular, this included the full and successful integration of the coastal and groundwater models POM and MODFLOW/MT3D into the Athens version of the demonstrator.

    The validation activity did comprise two elements: verification and demonstration. The verification process could confirm that the demonstrator implements the specified user requirements, was based on a detailed model verification and calibration phase for the requires scenarios.

    The demonstration activity did allow staff at the Ministry of the Environment in Athens to use, and be trained on, the demonstrator. This did facilitate feedback on the validity of the agreed requirements, their method of implementation, new requirements and the general acceptability of the system for operational use. It did also provide opportunities for publicizing the demonstrator.

    The demonstration activity is itself a deliverable. The report on the validation activity (D07.01) summarizes results achieved, lessons learned etc.

    Deliverables:
    D07.01: Report on validation (Athens)(AUT)
    D07.02: Demonstration (Athens) (AUT, TUA)

  • WP 08: Validation Gdansk:
    Objective
    To validate the operation of the ECOSIM demonstrator within the scenario(s) defined for its use at the Gdansk validation site.

    The validation activity did again comprise two elements: verification and demonstration. The verification process did seek to confirm that the demonstrator implements the specified user requirements. This was based on a technical coordination meeting at ESS, with representatives from the City of Gdansk to define final user expectations.

    The demonstration activity did allow the authorities from the City of Gdanks (City Board with assistance from the Technical University of Gdansk) to use, and be trained on, the demonstrator. This provided feedback on the validity of the agreed requirements, their method of implementation, new requirements and the general acceptability of the system for operational use. It did also provide opportunities for publicizing the demonstrator.

    At the Gdansk validation site, the level of existing monitoring networks and environmental modeling activities is very low. The purpose of validation here was therefore two-fold: (i) to verify and demonstrate ECOSIM's use on very limited environmental datasets, and (ii) to demonstrate how ECOSIM can be used to develop new or improved monitoring networks and modeling activities.

    The verification activities were based on the scenarios G1-G3.

    During the demonstration phase, ECOSIM was installed and operational for a period of more than 3 months at the validation site during which time, local users could be trained and assisted in its operation.

    The demonstration activity is itself a deliverable. A short report is integrated with the main Deliverable D08.01.

    Deliverables:
    D08.01: Report on validation (Gdansk) (TUG)
    D08.02: Demonstration (Gdansk) (TUG)

  • WP 09: Exploitation Plan:

    Objective:
    To maximize the return on the investment made by project partners and the EC.

    The first activity was an update of the Draft exploitation plan (prepared during the first project year by Smith Systems Engineering).

    This update does cover commercial exploitation from the perspective of supplier organizations within the consortium and similar exploitation from the user perspective.

    Supply-side exploitation: This was done to identify the market segment(s) where exploitation is to be directed and the mechanisms by which this market has been penetrated. This has been linked to project phases.

    Demand-side exploitation: Within their specification of requirements, user organizations did identify key capabilities, results and associated environmental impacts and costs savings of the ECOSIM system in order to justify its continued use and sponsoring of further development.

    These factors have been integrated into a coherent plan (Deliverable D09.01) to serve the needs of all project participants. The plan was up-dated in December on conclusion of the project. The results of exploitation activities will be presented with overall project reports.

    Deliverables:
    D09.01: Exploitation plan (updates)ESS

  • WP 10: Evaluation:

    Objective:
    To demonstrate the benefits obtained by development of the ECOSIM demonstrator.

    An outline methodology for the evaluation of environmental sector demonstrators has been presented by the EC. Using this as a basis, a methodology and plan for the evaluation of the ECOSIM demonstrator was defined (Deliverable D10.01) and updated into a Final Validation Plan.

    The evaluation process defines how the validation activities are to be conducted and what measurements are to be made depending on the domains in which benefits are expected. The evaluation process results in a Final Validation Plan prior to the site validation activities to ensure that a common approach and methodological framework was used to facilitate comparison across the three validation sites.

    In this WP (Evaluation, D10.02), the results of the validation are drawn together to present an appraisal of the benefits of ECOSIM. The focus for the evaluation process is the Evaluation Manager (ESS).

    Deliverables:
    D10.01: Validation plan (completed)(ESS)
    D10.02: Evaluation report (under revision) (ESS)

A.3 Problems encountered

As a consequence of the analysis on network connectivity, reliability, and performance, the original idea of using the more demanding models MEMO and DYMOS primarily through on-line Internet based connections seems impractical. Since, at the same time, MEMO can not be made available for installation in Berlin or Gdansk, alternative solutions had 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.

These modifications however are within the set of options supported by the flexible ECOSIM architecture: the architecture requires only adherence to a well-defined protocol (TCP/IP and http) without making any requirement as to the physical implementation of the protocol or the location of the nodes in the client server network, which can equally well be running on one and the same computer and CPU, as over the Internet.

A.4 Changes to the project plan

No major changes to the project plan were necessary in 1998.

Minor technical changes resulted from the actual physical setup and network access restrictions (primarily due to administrative and security reasons, e.g., at the Stadtsenat in Berlin) at the Demonstrator installations, which required more emphasis on the local area network rather than Internet connections of the client-server system.

In this context, the flexible ECOSIM architecture demonstrated one of its main advantages, since it supported an easy configuration of the system within the actual constraints at the validation sites.

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 provided 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 users 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 has been 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 releases of the Demonstrator (R0.5 and R1.0) were used as the basis for this on-site validation. In accordance with the revised project work plan and schedule, a period of up to six month was available for extensive on-site validation.

  • Description of demonstrator:
    ECOSIM Demonstrator Release R1.0. This release was 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.

    The system, however, is using a single executable with a completely data driven configuration for the three different applications.

  • 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:
    more than 20; 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.

A.8 Contribution to the application domain

Are 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 and demo at the Barcelona TAP Meeting
    • participation in the TAP Concertation Meetins
    • participation in the ENWAP Meetings (Szentendre, Brussels)
    • participation and presentation at the IST'98 in Vienna.
  • 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 occurs 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?
    ECOSIM 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 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 involved bringing together existing tools and techniques from several domains. Relatively small investments in this way resulted 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 involved 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 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 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 also contributes 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 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. 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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