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Introduction Decision Support
System (DSS)


Decision Support System (DSS)

The European Union countries have been making an effort of progressive integration of environmental policies, for which the Directiva 2000/60/CE (Water Framework Directive-WFD) (UE, 2000), represents a crucial and ambitious instrument of action to achieve a sustainable water management, within the watershed level. In this context, the WFD is particular relevant once it proves the need for harmonization of methods and compliance on strategies to be adopted for water management. Due to various factors difficult to predict and reconcile such as, the conflict of interests in water use, the random nature of hydrological phenomena and the limitations of technical, economic and social, this integrated approach become a task of enormous complexity.

The need for integrated approaches to water resource management is evident. As is also the significant increase of computational capabilities verified over the last decade. In this context we can introduce the importance of Hydroinformatics in planning and managing of water resources - it's a multidisciplinary field of study that deals with environmental, social and technological areas, using information technology in a broad sense, to provide better management of water and environmental resources. The Hydroinformatics encourages not only the focus on new technologies, but also in its application in certain social contexts (CIH, 2008).

In the process of planning and management of water resources, the consistent reproduction simplification of reality through mathematical models, has proved to be in practice, very important. In the last decade, simulation models, optimization models, decision models, databases, expert systems and geographic information systems tools have been used, extensively isolated, in research and management of aquatic systems. The coherent integration of these tools is a Decision Support System (DSS), providing its users a powerful tool for handling all the necessary information to decision-making process (Vieira, J.M.P., 1999; Vieira e Pinho, 2002).

The Water management at the watershed scale should be based on a wide range of information: scientific and technical information (including data on the natural system under study, namely physical, chemical, biological and socio-economic), management information (related to financial, human resources availability and scheduling/programming activities) and public information (responsible for the flow of information with interested people). The task of processing this information becomes a problem of high dimensionality, which presupposes the availability of efficient ways for processing the data required to the establishment of different options for planning and management. The analysis and evaluation of different strategies can be implemented through structured relational schemas and a set of mathematical models appropriate to solve the problem on equation.

A software solution capable of meeting the above requirements involves a very large development effort, so it should ensure that the solutions adopted for each of the components of SSD have the characteristics of flexibility and robustness suitable for implementation in different basins. Applications should be developed so that they can be shared by a number of users with the widest possible levels of  very different demands. The solutions adopted should also allow to explore the full potential of modeling tools of hydrodynamics and water quality of water resources without the complexity associated with this type of tools make it impossible its implementation by users unfamiliar with this type of analysis tools.

It was taken into consideration that a platform of this type must be designed to achieve an easy integration with other available resources, which suggests an open development environment that allows easy integration of modules specifics to each case of application.

This document presents the main features of a web-based platform, designed with the purpose of supporting the decision in water management in river basins. The platform includes tools for operation and management of geo-referenced information, operation of hydrological models, hydrodynamic and water quality and the analysis of case management in rivers, canals and reservoirs. This platform has as main structure, a Web server, a Database server, hydrodynamic and water quality models and technology for representing vectorial graphic images.


The platform contains solutions to the implementation of three main components of decision support systems for water management: information, modeling and analysis. For the Information System, the platform allows to incorporate the geographic information system, the databases and the resources of dissemination of information. For the Modelling System, the platform includes features for the inclusion of hydrologic, hydrodynamic and water quality models, related to natural water systems and infrastructure systems. This system not only enables the remote operation of models but also the visualization of simulation results by different users. For the Analysis System, there are specific interfaces dedicated to the analysis on different environmental scenarios, the operation of water resources (rivers and reservoirs) and the hydraulic infrastructure, as well as in evaluating the impacts associated with measures management calculations.

Each of these systems is operated from graphical user interfaces, specifically designed for this purpose, considering the profile defined for its users. The fact of being a web-based platform has the advantage of providing an effective solution either in the remote operation of the models, either in the query and update of georeferenced data. Its users are not thus limited to a single work space, since the access to the management system is possible from any location as long as connected to the large network that is the Internet.

The platform provides the following additional services: user management, document management and data monitoring. The user’s management service allows to restrict or not the access to various content, as well as the permissions to execute or to view the simulation results. The document management service allows user to perform simple tasks, such as publication of papers and upload/download of work documents. The monitoring data functionalities provides a data collection from hydrometric stations and water quality facilities installed on the river basin, allowing his analysis and validation, integrating them in specifically designed databases for this purpose. The system provides mechanisms for detection of anomalies, as well as maintaining resolution schemes for some types of these occurrences.

Regarding to the technological base on which is based the whole system, it is essentially composed by a Web server, a database server, hydrodynamic and water quality modeling software and technology for representing vectorial graphic images (Figure 1). In this case, the imaging technology used is SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), a modularized XML language for describing two-dimensional graphics with animation and interactivity.

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Technologies of the developed platform to support decisions on the management of hydrological basins.

This system is supported by various technologies such as PHP, HTML or JavaScript. PHP is the main programming language, used to generate the HTML pages sent to the client machine, while the JavaScript language is responsible for the interaction between the user and the interface. The proper structuring, organizing and loading information in the Database server is an essential prerequisite for the successful application of the hydrographic basins. The large amount of information normally involved in these situations requires automatic procedures for loading with routines of verification and validation of data. The process of updating and provision of information also depend on how that information is organized. This solution currently supports two types of database servers: MySQL and Oracle. The system mentioned here was designed and developed for MS Windows, based on the Internet Explorer browser (version 7).

Some external applications had been introduced, for the implementation of mathematical models (hydrodynamic and water quality), as in software Sobek. This software is applicable to problems of hydrodynamic modeling and water quality in rivers, and it´s composed by seven modules: hydrology, hydrodynamics in channels, hydrodynamics in rivers, sewers, real-time control, water quality and predicting flooded areas. Its integrated development allows simulating problems involving different modules simultaneously. It is based on a fairly reliable numerical method that allows achieving solutions even for highly complex simulations.


The solution here presented consists on a system of Web pages that serve to support the planning and management of water resources. On it are provided management features of working documents, information about water lines and hydraulic structures (information system), hydrodynamic and water quality models (modeling system) and tools for analyzing results (system analysis). The coherent integration of these tools constitute the Decision Support System (DSS).

Usually this system of Web pages is organized into menus, in order to obtain a better organization and more intuitive access to various features. As an example, you can click on the links associated to the following pictures, which provide access to two prototypes of the platform covered here:



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