The Knowledge Base is in business to improve the way that natural resource decisions are made. There must be knowledge but also ways for people and machines to interact, communicate, collaborate, and share that knowledge.
We know that there are many forces operating in any decision-making system. We even see the decision as a system. One requirement for all decisions is that they require information. They need inputs of all kinds - anecdotes, observations, assumptions, and the "hard stuff" - data synthesized and processed so that it is useful. "Useful" means that it fits right into the typical, final, difficult act of deciding.
We've done research for years and have been frustrated that our results have not gone out into decisions. We've done comprehensive, sophisticated literature reviews and while they have been useful to a few people, they have never been widely used. The Internet presents new resources to many people but there is now so much available that specialized knowledge and searching skills are needed for using the new medium that was to open knowledge to everyone.
We can now address problems and needs that we believe exist throughout the natural resource field --throughout the world. That need is for supplying the best knowledge available for the decisions being made that affect land use and natural resources, particularly the wildlands. We operate on the basis that there is a great amount of knowledge available for natural resource decision-making. It is not being used at all in some cases and not well in others. One reason is that it is not processed well, but another is that its existence is not even known. The RuralSystem Knowledge Base is a knowledge system about natural resource and rural knowledge. We know where knowledge is and can help individuals, corporations, and agencies find it, or we find if for them. We have build unique knowledge bases and practical models to use knowledge for certain field situations.
Premises upon which the company works are:
1. Observations can be improved.
2. Analyses of observations can be improved and expedited.
3. Wastes in unproductive past studies can be reduced
4. Vast knowledge about natural resources and land is now available and needs to be used.
5. People are now swamped by data and information and methods are available to overcome this problem.
6. Improving processing of data and information is as important as gaining more observations or data.
7. Much knowledge exists in other countries.
8. Science is only one pathway to knowledge; there are others, especially when time, funds, labor, or available energy are limited to species or conditions endangered.
9. Expert knowledge is a treasured resource.
10. Knowledge can often be captured in numbers or equations expressing relations and used in models.
11. Knowledge is often adequate. No more studies will improve the certainty of a statement because systems are naturally variable.
12. Using knowledge is part of the knowledge-building process. Use helps in testing (invalidation) and correcting current perceptions of truth.
13. Knowledge formats (such as those of the Modern Language Association are very important.
14. Knowledge can be improved if spatial and temporal factors are used with it.
We are in the knowledge business. We have massive, unique knowledge bases, unique collections, proprietary knowledge of other bases, access to vast information resources, and efficient procedures. We are dedicated natural resource specialists working with equally dedicated information system scientists and others to bring knowledge cost-effectively into use on the land.
Fully aware that all natural resource decisions are not made based only on knowledge about the system and consequences of a decision, the staff of The Rural System Knowledge Base is committed to increasing the role of knowledge in decisions. Without it, other forces can have a strong hand. We are committed to having such knowledge its rightful place at the decision table. We offer services for a price. We can provide in a timely fashion comprehensive reports in select areas of natural resources and the wildland topics. These are well-written summary and analytical reports by our superior staff. The reports are backed up by computer-aided literature searches, access to a large private library, access to national library sources, and, in some cases, to interviews of experts and folk authorities.
We have access to a modern university library, home of the internationally known VTLS (Virginia Tech Library System) that has virtually replaced the card catalog and allowed improved access to library resources.
We are linked to the National Library for the Environment that includes the Congressional Research Reports, PopPlanet.org, and US Environment.org. and others.
1. An expert registry
2. A library research group to provide rapid library studies
3. Bibliographies on many natural resource topic
4. Access to fauna databases
5. Access to plant databases
6. Key source discoveries and article finding and delivery
7. Data processing-converting data to information by modern computer-based procedures
8. Access to the The Knowledge Base library
9. Access to expert knowledge bases
10. Access to maps (traditional one from Landsat, SPOT and others) 11. Access to photographs, movie, and TV clips (e.g., for multimedia work)
12. Unique electronic "publications" which we call "chunks."
We can pump data into our hand-held field computer with a global positioning satellite unit in the forest stand via cellular phone to a data receiver, then directly into a statistical analysis package. The results, once in a file, are fed into a text file which, in final form with color maps, goes over the Internet to a corporate headquarters where a land sale decision is being made. This unusual new flow of knowledge (field observation to decision-aid in a day) is of interest and we can and will gladly provide such services but we have many other more well-known capabilities for rich returns from the world's knowledge stores because we have:
We propose typically to serve:
· law firms
· federal and state government resource agencies
· environmental consulting firms
· engineering firms
· students for their thesis or dissertation work
· researchers of all types
· ecosystem model builders
· Extension Services
· environmental, outdoor, and nature writers
· serious outdoor and nature enthusiasts
· serious hunters and ...
· the average person who is out of time and energy and needs to know something.
Our work is done in three stages. It is rare that customers appreciate how much time they personally spend in literature searches or, frankly, the worth of their personal time. (If a person making $28,000 a year works for 200 days a year, they have to be worth at least $17.50 per hours.) A week in the library can amount to high costs (a minimum of $700) to an agency or to a client. Ability to cut costs or outbid a competitor makes use of The Rural System Knowledge Base services essential. The 3 stages are needed because we need to show each customer what they get for fees charged at each level. Each client needs to see what they will get (and assess how much more is needed). Each needs to judge the potentials of our group to meet real needs (which only the client can appraise.)
We have a base charge. This pays for administration, analysis of the request, and a preliminary search. (We may find nothing, but a client will be told where we looked and that, in itself, is worth a lot to the serious worker-and risk taker.) We then estimate the work and costs likely in each level. This is no more than rational bidding, seeking to meet needs rapidly at reasonable costs. (An expedited service including fax, e-mail and courier service is available.) In some cases, only level 1 or 2 service will be suggested based on the apparent knowledge available.
A Rural System Knowledge Base team will conduct interviews and several unique Delphi-based analyses (expert consultations toward consensus) are also available. Our services are discrete and we follow a strict code of privacy and confidentiality. Our staff are pledged to support client interests and to non-disclosure, except as permitted.
Some of our studies over time are published as Knowledge Base documents. When a request is made and it can be answered by an in-house document already available, this document will be supplied at cost and no other fees will be charged.
Our services increase. Savings in costs of searches previously made are passed on to customers. We can arrange for major tax deductions and gift benefits for personal natural resource libraries that are contributed to the Foundation for use in The Knowledge Base
To The Customer
Here's are some ideas about what we can do together...
1. Just write or call. Much work needs to be personally and carefully done to meet your needs. Have an idea? We'll try to help.
2. Call us for a bibliography, for example, on Lyme disease.
3. Subscribe to Rural System Knowledge Base's Seek/Find service. You subscribe, fill in a list of topics on which you work and we'll alert you to new articles in your field(s). You may then order the article(s) and we'll fax, e-mail, or send them by conventional mail.
4. Order a report on a topic of interest, for example, the characteristics of warm-season grasses.
5. Clear the file. Convert that old data set into some useful statistics. We'll enter data, analyze it appropriately, and give you a report. You can write it up. We'll also do the front-end "literature review," almost impossible for the person in the remote field station.
6. Let us show you how to use the wildlife information systems that now exist in 20 states. Jeff L. Waldon, an affiliate, has promoted wildlife information systems throughout the U.S. and world and (a) can assist any state or nation in creating a wildlife information system, or (b) the Rural System Knowledge Base can provide a cost-effective alternative: a privatized central service for individuals or several states operating in a consortium.
7. Need an expert(s) on Topic X? We'll send you a list that you can contact for availability, fees, and ability to meet your specific needs.
8. Use our unique knowledge bases on:
We have excellent contacts for local work in India, People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Nigeria, Senegal, and Columbia. We customize our services to your needs.
The range of services that we can supply is:
1. Providing assistance in study design
2. Performing statistical analyses
3. Preparing computer maps
4. Cleaning files - moving the thousands of dollars spent on studies into notes and reports
5. Preparing select bibliographies
6. Keeping you up-to-date on publications in your area (lists or actual article reprints)
7. Preparing literature reviews for research proposals or projects
8. Preparing timely background reports for court cases
9. Answering site-specific questions (millions) about wildlife
10. Preparing a book on a select topic as a memorial to a loved one or as a grand gift to a family member or corporate leader
11. Gaining literature and translations from select other countries
12. Putting you in touch with world-class experts on a topic
13. Delivering comprehensive environmental plans from The Trevey, documents that synthesize knowledge
14. Preparing unique area-specific computer maps
15. Preparing indigenous-people and folk knowledge surveys
16. Developing computer models of managerial relevance.
We do little work in chemistry, physics, or the arts. Our work in law is limited to those laws relevant to a natural resource topic, rarely case law. Our interests and abilities span those of a large modern Land-Grant University. We welcome inquiries.
We can provide electronic delivery. We guarantee responses and have unique crisis teams to prepare materials in unbelievably short periods.
We are a not-for-profit group but we are operating to improve decisions, to reduce the waste, "grief," and costs of hours and hours spent in often-ineffective library searches. We're in the business to reduce duplication, to increase effective replication of studies, to assist in directing future studies, to prevent the loss of field data and information gained at such high costs and risks. We are growing in our capabilities in developing formal "expert systems" and in artificial intelligence. We operate with EXSYS expert system shell and two other types of software with expert system configuration, CRITERIUM, and AskSam.
We invite donations of library resources from natural resource specialists to our growing knowledge base. We invite cooperative involvement of companies developing improved library and information equipment and services. We can be a testing and prototype development center. We are proud that our library searchers, our specially-trained staff, are usually enrolled in a university program in natural resources. They benefit financially to assist in the high costs of their education, they learn, and also become more competent employees for future corporations and agencies.
We propose to study and participate in aggregated Internet-based scientific journals. We offer materials in many formats including the many potentials for e-book publication via the CD (contact: Mr. Hayward Shepard ).
Rapid changes in agency structure, the rise of consulting services for agencies, and reduced research funding has created new needs for rapid delivery of information. Libraries under financial pressure need use-rates as part of their accountability documents. Wildland enterprises arise and competition forces them to seek new or different sources of information.
The U.S. Forest Service Information Center at Athens, Georgia, has more requests than they can meet and are willing to relay to us some of these.
Several corporations have their own library service centers but agencies have been unable to stabilize the libraries of the size, diversity, and complexity needed to meet wildland resource personnel needs. There are needs for information that is not being met, so the "need" is ignored. The market appears to be large, but unknown, because of the impediments in the past and the electronic media now available for delivery.
The above note suggests only one relatively new source for rapid access and delivery of information to the field for modest costs. Many new resources become available almost daily and new delivery devices also are available.
Costs for developing this enterprise will relate toits role in serving other aspects of Rural System development. The "Pessimistic" option is a break-even venture; "Likely" is profitable, especially since it will support at low-costs the other development in Ranging, Inc. The "Optimistic" estimate is not "maximum" but believed reasonable within 2 years with quality advertising and promotion.
Marketing and Sales Activities
The clients have been listed above. The advertising will be:
Operations and Organization
The Knowledge Base hires a manager. University Library faculty (two have expressed interest) serve as consultants.
University students and others are employed as searchers/writers.
Affiliation with information providers is begun.
Affiliation with the National Technological Information Service (NTIS) is established.
A distinctive team procedure developed by Giles is used with standard formats, citations, word processing, file management, and editing.
Progressively lowered costs are expected as a system of effective library searching, use, note taking, scanning, and processing is developed.
A senior staff member reviews reports for clarity and format before being sent.
Marketing is by the marketing group of System Central until expansion seems to justify a separate group.
Continual attention to new sources enables cost effective searches, even in the era of Google. For example, the USAID Natural Resources Management Office (NRMO) has created an online library comprised of the Agency's projects related to biodiversity, forestry, land management and water. With summary information of more than 450 projects, the NRM online library provides users with seamless links to technical documents and current NRM initiatives related to tourism, poverty reduction, and geographic information systems (GIS). It is designed to assist USAID mission staff, contractors, and implementing partners with project planning, decision making, and research relevant to natural resource management in international development. The library is accessible through www.nric.net.
Data bases, enormous resources listed at http://news.lib.vt.edu.
Data bases for fisheries and wildlife: https://survey.vt.edu/survey/entry.jsp?id=1138121610039
The list from that temporary source is:
Agricola, from CSA
Agricola, from SilverPlatter
Agricola, from USDA
Agricultural & Environmental Biotechnology Abstracts
Animal Behavior Abstracts
ASFA: Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts
Conference Papers Index
EIS: Digests of Environmental Impact Statements
Electronic Collections Online (ECO)
Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management
Expanded Academic Index ASAP
Fish and Fisheries Worldwide
Science Citation Index, from Web of Science
Water Resources Abstracts
Web of Science Citation databases
Wildlife and Ecology Studies Worldwide
See National Agricultural Library
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 21, 2005