Overview of the Doctoral College

In recent years, Environmental Informatics has emerged as a new interdisciplinary research field that can facilitate decisions regarding social, economic, ecological, and environmental goals based on a variety of information technology measures. This Doctoral College program aims to utilize the interdisciplinary potential to promote the objectives of Environmental Informatics in one of the research focus points of the Vienna University of Technology, "Energy and Environment".

The conceptual framework of the doctoral college, depicted in the following figure, will consist of two interdependent layers, namely enabling technologies (blue/bottom) and environmental solutions (green/top). The first layer covers the required scientific/technical foundation together with enabling technologies, whereas the second layer includes the possible environmental solutions empowered by these enabling technologies. The environmental solutions cover areas such as environmental research, environmental resource management, green business, and smart solutions, which we will define in more detail at the end of this section.

Research scope

The enabling technologies in the college will cover:

  • Information semantics, management and integration: data modeling, data integration, data collection, and distributed data management for environmental information.
  • Visual analytics: data visualization, visual data analytics and collaborative working environments for solving environmental problems.
  • Algorithmic modeling, simulation, optimization: algorithms, parallel processing, and distributed computing techniques for environmental analysis applications.
  • Large-scale data and compute-intensive systems: distributed systems, cloud computing architecture and provisioning models, large-scale data processing techniques for environmental solutions.
  • Governance and decision support: risk management, data compliance, and business process techniques for environmental analysis and decision making.

The environmental solutions, on the other hand, use the enabling technologies to address their multi-objective, interactive, and dynamic use-cases. The environmental aspects can be roughly classified in the following categories:

  1. Environmental research includes research topics such as planetary boundaries, climate change issues, complex adaptive (socio-ecological) systems, sustainable development problems, and environmental risk and resilience research.
  2. Resource management covers topics such as smart infrastructure/smart grid, energy planning, large-scale energy supply structures, power grid efficiency, smart metering, energy policy, energy markets and competitive environment for renewable energy, asset management, energy production, transport, distribution and trading, and emissions trading.
  3. Green business addresses sustainable business development, green supply chain management, environmental information management, corporate environmental information systems, environmental and sustainability indicators, environmental planning and decision support, corporate environmental risk assessment, environmental reporting and corporate sustainability, environmental auditing, and environmental assessment and governance
  4. Smart solutions includes topics such as smart buildings, smart cities, smart transportation and logistics, smart production, smart products, smart environments, self-organization in smart systems, environmental monitoring for smart solutions, decision support for city and regional planning, and enabling technologies (RFID, NFC, Internet of Things standards and protocols, etc.).

The doctoral college "Environmental Informatics" as an interdisciplinary approach aims to establish research collaboration amongst the next generation of researchers and to address environmental problems by utilizing synergies from different methods from the fields of informatics, geoinformation, simulation, statistics, visualization, energy research, and architecture. The outcome of this college will be timely, accurate, accessible and comprehensible information processes for solving environmental problems by researching informatics together with environmental sciences.