GeoInforM - Integrating Geological Information in
City Management to Prevent Environmental Risks
The development of any big city implies an intensive use of subsurface: construction of subway, main sewers, subterranean service lines, foundations, underground parking lots and storages, as well as ground water resource exploitation. All these activities have significant effects on the environment, while insufficient account for local geological peculiarities may lead to disasters, like natural gas explosions, ground water pollution, destruction of subterranean facilities etc.
These issues are really topical for St. Petersburg due to special geological conditions of its territory. Among the major geological problems of the city’s area are the presence of modern tectonic zones and paleovalleys, which cause geological instability, karst formation, side erosion, natural gas generation, radon danger, flooding due to raised level of the ground water.
In the end of 2004 due to changes in the Russian legislation, the powers and responsibilities of regional authorities in mineral resources and subsurface management were appreciable extended. These powers include licensing and supervision in the field of subsurface resources management, monitoring of ground water and exogenous geological processes, maintenance of regional databases of geological information. St. Petersburg among first cities in Russia started the implementation of new powers: the City’s Committee or Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety drafted relevant regional laws and regulations, launched geological monitoring, laid the basis of the regional geological database.
The international project “Integrating Geological Information in City Management to Prevent Environmental Risks (GeoInforM)”, LIFE06 TCY/ROS/267, is an integral part of activities launched by the Committee in respect of implementation of its new authorities, which offered an opportunity to make use of unique international experiences. The implementation of that three-year Project (2007-2009) became feasible due to the financial support of the European Union “Life Third Countries” programme.
The Geological Survey of the Ministry of Urban Development and Environment of Hamburg, Germany, presented its system of collection, storage and distribution of geological and environmental data, experts of the Province of Milan, Italy, shared the experience of using information technologies in ground water management, The Geological Survey of Finland shared the experience in geological risk assessment. A valuable contribution to the Project was made by the Russian partner, “Mineral” company, which is one of City’s leading geological institutions experienced in development and application of GIS.
It should be pointed out that GeoInforM followed up the developments of another “Life Third Countries” Project, which was carried out in St. Petersburg from 2005 to 2007, “Information and Communication Technologies to Strengthen Sustainable City Management (InfoCoSM)” (LIFE04TCY/RUS/00051): Internet resource, data management system, MIS and GIS we efficiently used as basis for geological information management system.
Goals and tasks of the Project:
- The overall objective of ‘GeoInforM’ Project is to contribute to the solution of a complex problem of protecting the environment of the Baltic Sea Region via decreasing environmental risks, which are caused by the anthropogenic load on the geological environment of St. Petersburg area.
- The major goal of the Project is to integrate the practices of taking account of geological peculiarities of the city’s area in the process of implementation of the city development projects and programmes, using the decision-support tools.
Outcomes of the Project:
- Needs of various user target groups in geological information for the area of St. Petersburg were identified and assessed;
- Experience of Western European partners in geological supervision and licensing, in using geological information to support environmental protection and city planning decision-making, and in developing of technical solutions for geological information management was collected and studied;
- Detailed information on availability of geological data in various institutions of St. Petersburg was collected; geological data which are compatible with information resources developed under InfoCoSM Project (LIFE04 TCY/ROS/051) were collected, processed and verified;
- The geological database, which is an integral part of the Regional Geological Database of St. Petersburg, was developed;
- The Ground Water Flow Model for St. Petersburg was developed and tested;
- Maps of geological risks for St. Petersburg were developed;
- Tools for users’ access to geological information were developed;
- Potential users of tools developed in the framework of he Project were trained; the Users’ Manual was developed and published;
- Geological Atlas of St. Petersburg was developed and published.