Connecting People to Their Environment
Smarter, Greener Space
IBM and Mohonk Preserve have joined to create Nature’s Interactive Almanac – a Web-based tool for nature study, fact-finding, and education for students,teachers and citizen scientists. Part of IBM’s “Smarter Planet” vision, this initiative promotes “smarter, greener space” with Mohonk Preserve, one of the largest nature preserves in the U.S. and one of the oldest land conservation organizations in New York’s Hudson Valley Region.
Making the Connection
In this era of rapid environmental change, solutions to ecological problems rest on people understanding how the state of the Earth’s living species, land, air, and water is linked to their everyday lives, health, and well-being. Parks, nature preserves, and other protected green spaces, such as Mohonk Preserve, offer opportunities to capture data on the Earth’s systems and then to “translate” it into information that helps people connect with nature, strengthen and support scientific research, and inform policies to improve environmental conditions.
Worldwide, demand is rapidly growing for answers to global environmental challenges such as stabilizing a changing climate, maintaining the quality and availability of cleaner air and water, and reducing stress on wildlife and their habitats. With Nature’s Interactive Almanac, IBM and Mohonk Preserve are tapping the burgeoning field of green technology and green business service solutions to help create an informed and motivated citizenry and, in turn, protect the natural environment for current and future generations.
Mohonk Preserve is one of the nation’s premier sites for the long-term collection and interpretation of scientific data on weather, landscape change, and species.Preserve staff and research associates from collaborating institutions have continued to add to what is now a continuum of over 80 years of natural and cultural history records and 113 years of daily weather data—all collected uninterrupted and with methodological consistency over time. A portion of these records, which make up the oldest and most extensive natural history record in the U.S., is now available to students and the public through Nature’s Interactive Almanac, helping to extend classroom and online learning into the outdoors.
Putting Green Tools to Work
IBM is working with Mohonk Preserve to use intelligent and integrative technology in three key ways to:
- generate Earth monitoring for scientific applications
- facilitate the use of information for nature discovery and way-finding in age-appropriate environmental education settings (both actual and virtual)
- advance organizational knowledge and efficiencies in ways that enhance both visitor services and long-term land protection.
Nature's Interactive Almanac is a unique product of this collaborative effort. In addition to benefiting the Preserve, the Almanac will also be replicable in other parks and natural areas regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Nature's Interactive Almanac is designed to help share Mohonk Preserve's scientific and educational resources with scientists, scholars, students and citizens worldwide. It can be used in three major ways:
- Scientific Applications. As essential study and monitoring sites, Mohonk Preserve and other green spaces provide data on species, weather, air, land, and water systems that can then be gathered, analyzed, and translated into intelligence for a more sustainable world.
- Environmental Education. Key to classroom and public engagement is access to "smart" systems such as Nature's Interactive Almanac, that take scientific information and translate it into universal formats, providing teachers and students with flexible data access while helping green spaces to attract new audiences and build support for their conservation goals.
- Citizen Science Education. Citizen scientists' curiosity and nature observation skills are tested and honed through such tools as Nature's Interactive Almanac. Information on species and their environment, as well as weather and phenological conditions (timing of events in nature) leverages educational content to support citizen science projects. As a visualization tool, the Almanac assists with translation of scientific data for hands-on educational purposes. This innovative collaboration between IBM and Mohonk Preserve is designed to help make the world work better, more efficiently, and more productively.