Multimedia GIS-- A New Tool For Ecological Education
Department of Spatial Information Systems and Forest Geodesy,
Warsaw Agricultural University
This paper presents the concept of multimedia geographic information systems (MGIS). The main goals to be achieved by merging multimedia technology with GIS are better educational tools, richer methods of presentation of data, easier systems for novice users and enhanced management of spatial phenomena. The paper proposes to develop a Multimedia GIS for the Białowie¿a Forest Promotional Complex, one of the forests chosen to be test sites for the new Polish forest policy. It identifies the sources of input data and points out the possible benefits. Finally, the Internet is mentioned as a means of distributing the gathered data along with a brief discussion on the quality ofmultimedia-based systems.
Table of contents:
2. The need for more efficient education
3. Goals and objectives
4. The sources of data
5. Software and hardware considerations
6. Methods of presentation and some important considerations
Therefore, as Grzywacz points out (Grzywacz, 1994), the process of educating the society should be intensified. The knowledge about nature, and forests in particular, should be made available to the whole society. The goals of forest education should encompass (Grzywacz, 1994):
- educating in the field of sustainable forest development and protection,
- stimulating creativity in wise use of forests,
- encouraging to observe the rules present in forests,
- creating a model of an aware citizen,
- teaching an interdisciplinary approach to forests,
- forming international solidarity in the field of nature conservation.
Recognising the importance of the issues raised, the new Polish forest policy stresses the need for broader and more efficient forest education (Grzywacz, 1994). First relevant decisions are found amongst the tasks of the so-called forest promotional complexes (FPC). The following goals of FPCes are specifically education-oriented (Zarządzenie nr 30, 1994, Zarządzenie nr 11, 1995, Zarządzenie nr 28, 1995):
- conducting forest researches in order to work out model solutions of ecology-oriented forest economy, and
- training the personnel of State Forests and delivering ecological education to the society.
The tasks scheduled to be done on the territory of forest promotional complexes in the period of 1995 to 1997 include amongst other the following:
- setting up in every FPC a training centre for foresters and the public, and
- establishing a National Centre of Ecological Education in the Rogów Experimental Station.
To complete the described tasks related to ecological education very efficient and flexible means are needed. It seems that one of most powerful aids in the process could be Multimedia-GIS systems. There are examples of successful projects in similar fields. The "InterGIS Learning Station" is a good example of an attempt to deliver education on-line (Heywood, Reeve, 1995). Its aim is to supplement traditional methods of distance learning with a on-line information that can be viewed any time by the students. Slightly different in scope but similar in principles is a 3-D urban model developed for the historic City of Bath (Hall, King, 1994). It contains multimedia data on the history and conservation of Bath in the form of text, plans and photographs of key buildings and views. These data are linked to the 3-D model of the city. More education-oriented is the project of Multimedia GIS carried out at the Delft University of Technology (Tisma, 1995). The goal of this system is to teach principles of GIS in a multimedia environment. It is worth noting that this system is intended to be used at the faculty where there is no formal GIS training course.
Given the reasons stated above, we recommend to build a pilot GIS Multimedia system for the Białowie¿a Forest Promotional Complex.
- The proposed system will be a tool for ecological education. It will contain and integrate spatial and multimedia data that will be accessible in an easy way. Rich information about the Białowie¿a Forest will be presented along with the explanations of natural processes and activities of foresters. Presenting that information in various forms such as text, pictures, short video clips, recorded voice narration will allow the user to experience different stimuli and, therefore, to learn faster. Since the framework for the presentation will be a GIS, users will in a "natural" way learn the principles of using and managing spatial data.
- It will be a means of conveying the information to the society, namely: schools, universities, research centres, institutions, public media and interested citizens. The result will be better educated and informed society willing to support and help foresters in their tasks.
- International organisations and society members will get accurate and up-to-date information, as opposed to sometimes confusing messages delivered by the television or radio. This will improve the image of Polish forestry.
- The GIS part of the system will be used as a management tool in the Białowie¿a Forest Promotional Complex.
- Analytical capabilities of the system will allow researchers to perform many analyses that they were unable to do before, due to the constraints of traditional methods (Olenderek et. al., 1995).
- The system will help to classify and integrate existing information on the Białowie¿a Primeval Forests. Redundancy of the data will be detected and the quality of the information will be assessed.
- It will form a common data base for the Białowie¿a FPC. Distributed data about Białowie¿a will be located, analysed and incorporated into the system. In this way, every interested researcher, organisation, student or citizen will be able to use not only her or his data but also information gathered by the others. Substantial savings will be achieved by eliminating duplication of efforts in gathering and analysing the data.
- The system will form an opportunity to join the efforts of various institutions and people. They will be able to present and exchange their ideas, which in turn should lead to better and faster results in their particular disciplines.
- It will be a test system. Technical issues will be resolved, including cost, software and hardware configurations, data acquisition and integration, etc.
- The usefulness and applicability of integrated Multimedia GIS systems will be verified in the fields of education and management of spatial data.
- topographic maps in various scales,
- forest maps and forest management masterplans,
- soils-related materials by Włoczewski (Włoczewski, 1952, 1955),
- map of forest associations by Matuszkiewicz and Matuszkiewicz (Matuszkiewicz, Matuszkiewicz, 1954),
- materials on soils by Prusinkiewicz and Kowalkowski (Prusinkiewicz, Kowalkowski, 1964),
- works on vegetation by Faliñski (Faliński, 1966, 1986, 1994),
- works on trees and tree stands by Zaręba (Zaręba, 1968),
- works by Kwiatkowski on vegetation landscapes (Kwiatkowski, 1994),
- the map of Białowieża Primeval Forest by the Research Group of PTOP,
- aerial photographs,
- satellite imageries,
- aerial video images.
It is worth noting that there are some data available in the digital form already. They are the effect of the researches of the Forest Research Institute conducted in co-operation with Warsaw Agricultural University. They include, amongst other, information on hydrology, natural landscapes, sites-stands characteristics, geomorphology, biogeography and elevation. The next source can be the data from the system developed for the part of the Primeval Forest located in Belarus. Their use will reduce the time and budget needed to complete the whole project.
Several options exist regarding the multimedia part of the system. The technology makes it possible to convert various types of analogue data into digital form. After such a conversion, digitised, scanned and recorded information will be linked to spatial data. Access to linked data will be achieved in hypertext manner. Of course, the real value of integrated resources will depend exclusively on the knowledge and creativity of people who select the data to be presented. It seems that main part of multimedia presentation should consist of:
- text information on various topics:
- history of Białowieża region and the Primeval Forest in particular,
- culture of the region,
- description of species, natural processes,
- presentation and explanation of activities performed by foresters,
- legal documents related to nature conservation
- tables, diagrams and schemes presenting important facts about the region
- old maps (including the forest ones), plans and sketches,
- photographs of plants, animals, etc.
- photographs of interesting places, disasters, etc.
- photographs presenting various forest sites, activities,
- short voice presentations on various topics,
- voices of interesting animals,
- animations illustrating chosen topics,
- short video clips of spectacular phenomena,
Above presented is a preliminary list that should only serve as a starting point for further researches.
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Last modified 2004-11-09 19:44