SCREENING OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF POLLUTION WITH THE QGIS PLUGIN ENVIFATE
Keywords: GIS, Contamination modelling, python, QGIS, environment
Abstract. Public and academic interest in environmental pollution caused by toxic substances and other sources, like noise, is constantly raising. To protect public health and ecosystems it is necessary to maintain the concentrations of pollutants below a safety threshold. In this context the development of models able to assess environmental pollution impact has been identified as a priority for future research. Scientific community has therefore produced many predictive models in the field. The vast majority of them needs to be run by specialists with a deep technical knowledge of the modeled phenomena in order to process the data and understand the results and it is not feasible to use this models for simple prescreening activities. Planners, evaluators and technical operators need reliable, usable and simple tools in order to carry out screening analysis of impact assessment.
The ENVIFATE software is currently under development by the Department of Civil, environmental and mechanical engineering of the University of Trento, Italy, in the frame of a project funded by the Italian Veneto Region with the aim to make available to nonspecialists screening analysis to assess the risks of a set of possible environmental pollution sources in protected areas.
The development of ENVIFATE follows these basic requirements: i) Open-Source ii) multiplatform iii) user friendly iv) GIS oriented. In order to respect these principles we have chosen to develop a plugin of QGIS, using python as a development language and creating a module for each environmental compartment analyzed: rivers, lakes, atmospheric dispersion, dispersion in groundwater and noise.
The plugin architecture is composed of a series of core functions characterized by command line interfaces that can be called from third-party applications (such as Grass GIS), connectable in custom data flows and with a high level of modularity and scalability. The base of the different models are highly tested and reliable algorithms adopted by the Italian Institute for Protection and Environmental Research (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale – ISPRA). Due to their simplicity, and for safety reasons, the structure of these models is constrained to provide conservative results, so to overestimate actual risk. This approach allows to provide statistically validated instruments to be used in different environmental contexts. All modules of the plugin provide numerical and cartographical results: in particular the command-line interface provides "static" results, or linked to a particular spatial and temporal state, while the Qgis plugins iterate the single analysis along space and time in order to provide georeferenced maps and time distributed results.