How the eCommunity System deals with (local)
environmental problems in the context of sustainable urban development
Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) is defined
as "a complex system of legal, economic and other incentive systems,
methodologies and tools, data and information resources by which
society provides the necessary and appropriate support for efforts
by individuals and cities to implement sustainability" (Paskaleva,
Curwell et al. 2002). To reach SUD cities need to be economically
efficient, socially integrated and environmentally friendly if they
are to provide good quality of life and in order to survive and
prosper (Curwell et al. 2003). In order to reflect the aspirations
of all individuals and groups of society interactively and interdependently
sustainable development has to comprise the ecological, the economical,
the social as well as the cultural dimension.
The environment and resource use dimension
The environmental dimension of sustainability
recognizes the indisputable fact that people are completely dependent
upon the natural world, and that without the resources and ecosystems
services it provides, life and development are impossible. In order
to sustain the viability of ecological systems, development must
not degrade or deplete them to such an extent that they are unable
to function effectively.
In the networked knowledge society, the use of
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is believed to
be critically important for dematerialization of production and
im-materialisation of consumption and lifestyles, green entrepreneurship,
sustainable lifestyles, responsible living, corporate responsibility
and sustainable communities (European Commission 2002).
Information systems play an essential role in
reaching environmental targets for sustainable development.
Numerous actions on environmental preservation cannot be realized
without the support of ICT. Special importance can be given to the
possibility of ICT to create comprehensive monitoring systems for
the protection and conservation of ecosystems. The accumulation
of very large amounts of data; their effective use and archiving
for the far future, requires a global structure and management facilities
(Club of Rome, 2003).
How the eCommunity System may tackle local
The eCommunity system is a web-based system that
is designed to complement or replace existing offline practices.
As all web-based systems, especially those that are designed to
complement or replace existing offline practices, the eCommunity
system has some immediate and direct environmental effects, like
the reduction (although minimal) of traffic and the reduction of
waste / garbage - especially paper - that would otherwise have been
used to distribute the information that is now available online.
Since the system deals with city development issues (among them
with those that may have environmental impacts) local inhabitants
have easier access to these plans and can express their opinion
before development/production begins.
Due to increased public awareness all development
plans might receive more thorough environmental consideration as
they are reviewed by more interest groups. The wider the public
acceptance of the system - from both the local government and inhabitants'
side - the better can be the chance to select and realize a more
environmentally/financially optimal proposal for the given project.
Besides strengthening public awareness of environmental issues,
this tool also helps the decision making of inhabitants and local
government officials by making it possible to view potential environmental
effects before selecting their preferred option. In particular,
development decisions that need to deal with a potential trade-off
on the environmental side (e.g. building of a new school versus
saving trees) will benefit through the implementation of the decision-making
The 3D modelling helps to support and illustrate
the impacts of future developments, so that the citizens have better
and more easily understandable information on the development plans.
The system also strongly supports nature maps
and environmental maps with landmarks and preservation areas that
can be highlighted in real time. Environmental data will be fed
in the GIS and map upload modules. These GIS maps and simple image
maps are able to contain environmental data (e.g. air pollution).
As they are not real time, an administrator needs to process the
data first and upload it to the system as a color coded (etc...)
The following thematic maps deal directly with
environmental management in / of Narva:
Environmental protection zones
Air emission maps for Narva City
The local environmental risks and problems of
Narva (see: Ants Tammepalu: Narva City and Vaivara parish provisonal
Risk Assessment; Tartu 2004) are mostly the damage done by the oil-shale
burning power plants and the ash deposits. Traffic is a growing
problem. Some problems can occur due to the out-dated infrastructure
in sewer lines, run-off that flows un- purified into the Narva River.
To tackle these problems and support the management
in the future, the open database could be filled with more environmental
on local water quality for monitoring possibilities,
on the infrastructure system, like the condition of pipelines
of the sewerage system, the district heating network, maintenance
on water exchange from / into the water reservoir, the maintenance
of the dams, to use the system for water management purposes,
also the energy generated from Narva power plants, which are fully
dependent on the water supply and whole Estonia draws its electricity
on areas with fire risk, which can be connected to the map of
preservation areas and landmarks and create a forest fire information
Ants Tammepalu (2004). Environmental Risks of
the City of Narva;Narva City and Vaivara parish provisonal Risk
Assessment; Tartu. Download
Ants Tammepalu (2004). Environmental Effects;