Read this article to learn about the role of information technology in environment and human health.
Role of Information Technology in Environment:
The important roles of information technology in environment are as follows:
1. Remote Sensing:
Remote sensing technique through satellite can be used to assess ongoing changes in the environment and to predict natural calamities like droughts, floods and volcanic eruptions etc. The technique is of great use in exploring the possible availability of crude oils, mineral deposits and location of geothermal power sources.
Database is the collection of inter-related data on various subjects. It is usually in computerized form and can be retrieved whenever required. There are several Distribution Information Centres (DICs) in our country that are linked with each other and with the central information network having access to international database.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has taken up the task of compiling a database on issues like wildlife, forest cover, wastelands etc.
3. Environmental Information System (ENVIS):
ENVIS established in 1982 aims on providing environmental information to decision makers, policy planners, engineers and scientists all over the country. ENVIS centres work for generating a network of database in areas like pollution control, clean technologies, biodiversity, renewable energy, wildlife, environmental management and remote sensing.
Objectives of ENVIS:
a. To build up a repository and dissemination centre in Environmental Science and Engineering.
b. To gear up modern technologies of acquiring, processing, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information of environmental nature.
c. To promote research, development and innovation in environmental information technology.
d. To provide national environmental information service relevant to meet the future needs.
ENVIS has a network of several participating institutions forming a number of nodes, known as ENVIS centres, which work with a Focal Point in the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Due to its compact network, ENVIS has been designed as the National Focal Point (NFP) for INFOTERRA, a global environmental information network of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
a. ENVIS India is in process of establishing 85 ENVIS nodes of which 81 have already been established which include government departments, institutions and NGO’s.
b. ENVIS nodes are supposed to create websites on specific environment related areas, establishes linkages with all information sources, create database on selected parameters and publish bulletins. They serve as interface for the users on the assigned subject.
4. National Management Information System (NMIS):
NMIS of the Department of Science and Technology has compiled a database on Research and Development projects along with information about research scientists and personnel involved.
5. Geographical Information System (GIS):
GIS has proved to be a very effective tool in environmental management. GIS is a technique of superimposing various thematic maps using digital data on a large number of inter-related or inter-dependent aspects. Different thematic maps containing digital information on a number of aspects like water resources, forest land, soil type, crop land, industrial growth, human settlement etc. are superimposed in a layered form in computer using soft-wares.
Applications of GIS:
GIS is very useful for future land use planning and for interpretating polluted zones and degraded lands.
a. GIS also provides information of atmospheric phenomenon like approach of monsoon, ozone layer depletion, smog and inversion phenomenon etc.
b. Planning for locating suitable areas for industrial growth is now being done using GIS by preparing Zoning Atlas.
c. GIS and remote sensing play a key role in resource mapping, environmental conservation and environmental impact assessment.
Role of Information Technology in Human Health:
Information technology is playing a major role in bioinformatics, genome sequencing, biotechnology, gene engineering, online medical transcription and in maintaining DTA databases for a better human health. It also helps in identifying several disease-infected areas which are prone to some vector-borne diseases like malaria, schistosomiasis etc. based upon mapping of such areas.
Bioinformatics, an emerging field of it is used in curing severe diseases like osteoporosis and in human genome project (HGP) by developing a computer programme that helps in completing the genome sequencing. The aim of HGP is to create a map of entire set of genes (genome) in the human cell by decoding the three billion units of human DNA.
Online Information on Health:
It provides vast quantum of information on different subjects including human health and environment. The patient can seek help of a super-specialist doctor placed at far off distance. The National Institute of Occupational Health provides computerized information on occupational health of people working in various hazardous and non-hazardous industries and safety measures etc.
Recently, an American Company M-square started Home Medican Transcription System (Hometrans) under which a medical online service can be started from home. The person interested in it needs to have a computer, telephone, helpline, voice script software and an internet for operating medical transcription.
World Wide Web (www):
A vast quantum of current data is available on World Wide Web. One of the most important online learning centre with power web is www dot mhhe dot com which provides current information on environmental science.
Other important websites of organisations and publications in the field of environment are:
Information technology is expanding rapidly with increasing applications and new avenues are being opened with effective role in education, management and planning in the field of environment and health.