Environmental Intelligence in today’s world

The following four sequential steps are essential to understanding one’s environment – at a Professional AND Personal level:
1. Observation Revolution: Data gathering capabilities are dramatically increasing. The ability of sensors and satellites to gather massive amounts of data has been increasing. The analogy is that simply increasing the amount of data is akin to increasing the amount of water coming out of a fire hose. Attempting to get a drink of water from a high pressure fire hose is difficult. You need to convert the data into information in order to be able to drink from the fire hose.
2. Information Generation: Capacity for data analysis is increasing. Over the past couple of decades, significant advances have been made in handling “Big Data” emanating from the observation revolution. For example, the development of geographic information systems (GIS) has made mapping a widespread tool. In addition, various statistical and spatial analyses have aided in converting data into useful information.
3. Knowledge Building: Synthesis and visualization techniques are emerging. The creation of environmental synthesis centers like the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, Maryland (run by the University of Maryland) and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, California and (run by the University of California) are examples of institutions that have been created to build new knowledge.
4. Environmental Intelligence: Good science, effectively communicated in a timely manner. Environmental intelligence is achieved when knowledge is effectively communicated for informed decision making. The timely dissemination of good science is enhanced with science visualizations, websites and science communications publications. Environmental report cards represent a way to share environmental intelligence to a broad public audience.