National Academies Press: OpenBook

Information Systems and the Environment (2001)

Chapter: Front Matter

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Edited by

Deanna J.Richards

Braden R.Allenby

and

W. Dale Compton

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
×

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm.A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

This volume has been reviewed according to procedures approved by a National Academy of Engineering report review process. The interpretations and conclusions expressed in the papers are those of the authors and are not presented as the views of the council, officers, or staff of the National Academy of Engineering.

This activity was undertaken in partnership with the H.John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.

International Standard Book Number: 0-309-06243-8

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2001093506

Copies of this report are available from
National Academy Press,
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; (800) 624–6242 or (202) 334–3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu

Printed in the United States of America

Copyright 2001 by the National Academies. All rights reserved.

Cover Art: Untitled (detail) by Maurice Golubov, courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia and Phillip Frost.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

Institute of Medicine

National Research Council

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I.Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. William A.Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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Preface

Today, the knowledge base on which environmental decisions are being made is broader and deeper than ever before. Information technology has introduced new opportunities for harnessing such knowledge to improve environmental performance. That, in part, is the subject of this volume of papers. The book also speculates about the potential contribution of information technology to sustainable development.

Few will argue that increased knowledge will play an essential role in meeting humanity’s environmental challenges. Yet, much of the quest for the knowledge that is needed falls into the category of several “public goods” challenges that no single company can justify undertaking alone and which can have a dramatic payoff if companies can share costs and responsibilities or if the government were to step up to the plate and fill the void. The challenges range from articulating technical and management standards that reflect best strategic environmental approaches and defining criteria for determining environmental impacts and metrics of environmental performance, to the potential use and misuse of environmental information. In each of these areas, there are important roles for government, trade associations, industry, universities and environmental public interest groups (preferably working collaboratively).

This volume originated from a July 1997 workshop conducted in partnership with the H.John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. Both the publication and the meeting are components of the NAE’s program on Technology and Sustainable Development. We are indebted to the authors for

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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their excellent contributions, to Robert M.White for his review of those contributions, and to an editorial team composed of Penny Gibbs, Greg Pearson, Long Nguyen, Deanna J.Richards, and Karla J.Weeks. Special thanks also go to Brad Allenby and Dale Compton for their efforts in chairing the workshop and for their contributions to the overview and perspectives in this volume.

Wm.A.Wulf

President

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2001. Information Systems and the Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6322.
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Information technology is a powerful tool for meeting environmental objectives and promoting sustainable development. This collection of papers by leaders in industry, government, and academia explores how information technology can improve environmental performance by individual firms, collaborations among firms, and collaborations among firms, government agencies, and academia.

Information systems can also be used by nonprofit organizations and the government to inform the public about broad environmental issues and environmental conditions in their neighborhoods.

Several papers address the challenges to information management posed by the explosive increase in information and knowledge about environmental issues and potential solutions, including determining what information is environmentally relevant and how it can be used in decision making. In addition, case studies are described and show how industry is using information systems to ensure sustainable development and meet environmental standards.

The book also includes examples from the public sector showing how governments use information knowledge systems to disseminate “best practices” beyond big firms to small businesses, and from the world of the Internet showing how knowledge is shared among environmental advocates and the general public.

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