Our planet is abundant with thousands of overlapping ecosystems, both large and small in scale. Every location has a unique set of energy and earth resources available to support the lifestyles and livelihoods of communities. However, the typical engagement with the resources in a region is surficial at best in our daily interactions. With the advent of open, accessible, and provocative technology, we have the opportunity to disseminate heterogeneous data on personal, narrative level.
Our project will achieve the integration of science information with existing ecotourism demands and expand technical capacity for local indigenous communities to support future ventures in environmental monitoring and renewable energy. We aim to bring awareness to the interdependency of ecosystems, energy resources, and economic endeavors by landmarking key locations within a cyberinfrastructure that can then feed dynamic data to a 3D learning platform to inform and engage people. Using printed pieces, circuits, sensors, and a social platform, we will create a system for tourists to collect and build environments. By embedding inherent interactions between the printed pieces, we will ignite an enthusiasm for geosciences and resource allocation worldwide. Printed in the form of figurines and topography, the objects will communicate with one another not only physically, but also digitally through a cyberinfrastructure. This mechanism will enable end users to learn about and interpret data both logistically and emotionally. Early implementation will support science-based tourism, but has potential for application in conflict resolution, participatory modeling, and cyberlearning.
Data collected by the cyberinfrastructure will also allow researchers to target audience awareness with more detailed scientific data interactively. Interaction with the 3D based components will help end-users engage with complex scientific information and support comprehension of current issues that are relevant to solving society’s most difficult problems - e.g. making choices regarding the balance between energy, environment, and economic benefits.
The vision for this business endeavor emerged from a joint effort to establish a series of “Scientific-Ethnic” knowledge exchange workshops among indigenous community members in the region and scientific researchers. The sites for initial implementation were selected by the team with a focus on energy and water resources located in the II Region of Chile and efforts are already underway to complete initial designs. This effort will be piloted by women in the Atacama Desert of Chile, where the team has a strong relationships and resource investments. Specifically we will begin implementation in the Loa Province and near El Tatio Geyser Field (ETGF). Often labeled the Yellowstone of South America, this beautiful geyser basin is a rare natural resource that sees heavy visitation by Chilean and international tourists, and it is an important economic resource for the local towns and indigenous peoples. The springs have a unique chemistry and microbiological community of arsenic and UV tolerant organisms, and each spring feature has a dynamic microbial ecosystem very similar to Yellowstone. At the same time, ETGF is located in one of the most productive mining districts of the world which drives demand for secure, stable energy resources and leaves the geothermal resource open to economic development. This region also has a rich cultural heritage, allure for tourism to the unique setting, and intrinsic scientific value due to the extreme environmental conditions for microbial life. This creates conditions for intense conflict over use and management of the area. It also creates an opportunity to engender dialogue about industrial development, energy, earth resources, water conservation, and the scientific knowledge behind one of the most remote and extreme environments on earth.
Preliminary 3D products will be developed as integral components to support a new form of science-based tourism in the region and teach both residents and visitors about the remarkably complex resource systems. Initially, this will serve to build technical capacity among community members and income generated from the initial efforts will be directed to expand on two complimentary business goals already laid out by the indigenous community team members – to build a network of locally managed environmental resource monitoring and establish a renewable energy generation cooperative that is owned and operated by the locals.
This opportunity has emerged from long-term efforts of the proposed 3D4D team. Initial implementation will generate a new ‘science-based’ tourism industry in the II Region of Chile and begin the process of building technical capacity for future endeavors. Success will benefit local and indigenous community members immediately by providing income and knowledge generating opportunities and over the long-term success has the potential to transform the relationships between indigenous community members and other economic sectors, such as energy and mining. Lessons that will be learned from this business can be readily applied to scale opportunities to other communities throughout the Western Hemisphere. Ultimately, this project gives a voice to the voiceless and enables the communication across groups that can educate, engage, provide energy, and change the world.
Our social-technical philosophy guides our product development and pilot programs.