Information technology has tremendous potential in the field of environmental educational and health as in any other field like business, economics, politics or culture.
Development of Internet facilities, worldwide web, geographical information system (GIS) and information through satellites has generated a wealth of up-to-date information on various aspects of environment and health. A number of software have been developed for environment and health studies, which are user friendly.
Database is the collection of inter-related data on various subjects. It Ls usually in computerized form and can be retrieved whenever required. In the computer the information of database is arranged in a systematic manner that is easily manageable and can be very quickly retrieved.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has taken up the task of compiling a database on various biotic communities. The comprehensive database includes wildlife database, conservation database, forest cover database etc. Database is also available for diseases like HIV/AIDs, Malaria, and Fluorosis etc.
National Management Information System (NM1S) 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.
Environmental Information System (ENVIS):
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has created an information System called Environmental Information System (ENVIS). With its headquarters in Delhi, it functions in 25 different centers all over the country.
The ENVIS centers work for generating a network of database in areas like pollution control, clean technologies, remote sensing, coastal ecology, biodiversity, western Ghats and eastern environmental management, media related to environment, renewable energy, desertification, mangroves, wildlife, Himalayan ecology, mining etc.
The National Institute of Occupational Health provides computerized information on occupational health i.e., the health aspects of people working in various hazardous and non-hazardous industries, safety measures etc.
Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System (CIS): Satellite imageries provide us actual information about various physical and biological resources and also to some extent about their state of degradation in a digital form through remote sensing.
We are able to gather digital information on environmental aspects Eke water logging, desertification, deforestation, urban sprawl, river and canal network, mineral and energy reserves and so on. Geographical Information System (GI3) 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 several useful software's have been developed for working in the field of GIS. Different thematic maps containing digital information on a number of aspects like water resources, industrial growth, human settlements, road network, soil type, forest land, crop land or grass land etc. are superimposed in a layered form in computer using software. Such information is very useful for future land vise planning.
Even interpretations of polluted zones, degraded lands or diseased cropland can be made on GIS. Planning for locating suitable areas for industrial growth is now being done using GIS by preparing Zoning Atlas.
GIS serves to check unplanned growth and related environmental problems. Our satellite data also helps in providing correct, reliable and verifiable information about forest cover, success of conservation efforts etc.
They also provide information of atmospheric phenomena like approach of monsoon, ozone layer depletion, inversion phenomena, smog etc. We are able to discover many new reserves of oils, minerals etc. with the help of information generated by remote sensing satellites. Thus remote sensing and GIS play a key role in resource mapping, environmental conservation, management, and planning and environmental impact assessment.
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.
The World Wide Web with resources material on every aspect, class-room activities, digital files of photos, power- point lecture presentations, animations, web-exercises and quiz has proved to be extremely useful both for the students and the teachers of environmental studies.
The role of online learning centre website has the following features:
(a) Student-friendly features:
These include practice quiz, how to study tips, hyperlinks on every chapter topics with detailed information, web exercises, case studies, environmental maps, key- terms, career information, current articles, and interactive encyclopedia and how to contact your elected officials.
(b) Teacher-friendly features:
These include in addition to above supplement resources charts, additional case studies, answers to web exercises, solutions to critical thinking, questions, editing facility to add or delete questions and create multiple version of same test etc.
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.