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The waters of the world are "the very veins and arteries of the biosphere”
(with apologies to Leonardo Da Vinci)


Michael Barry AbbottKNOWLEDGE has become, for better or for worse, the central value of our current societies, and indeed these are now often called ‘knowledge societies’. In no place is knowledge more important than in ‘the world of the waters’; this being the world where water flows through what we call, following Leonardo da Vinci, the very veins and arteries of the biosphere. The relation of knowledge to this world has been a major preoccupation of Michael B. Abbott over many decades. He founded the subject that he called Computational Hydraulics in 1967 as a theoretical foundation to his work in modelling. This led to the MIKE systems of numerical models which he initiated as a consultant to the Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI) and which are now used in more than 110 countries. He subsequently founded, in 1989, Hydroinformatics, as the application of advanced computation and communication technologies to problems of the aquatic environment. This work also gave a great initial impetus to the development of what is now the UNESCO-IHE Institute for water Education, with DHI funding many of its first Master's and Doctor's Degrees in a collaboration that has continued into the present day..

Hydroinformatics now has its own major Bi-Annual Conferences, which Michael B. Abbott first introduced in 1996 with Ir. Adri Verwey, and its Journal of Hydroinformatics, which he cofounded with Professor Roger Falconer. Knowledge Engineering BVBA has provided consulting service in these areas and others involving applications of knowledge, as founded on basic understandings.

Corresponding to this, Knowledge Engineering has long specialised in developing conjunctive knowledges, these being knowledges of how to bring together otherwise disparate knowledges, so that these are, so to say, knowledges about knowledges. A special attention has been given to conjunctions of modern-scientific knowledges and various indigenous, autochthonic, narrative knowledges, but this development is now being extended further to analyses of processes of understanding more generally, leading to what Knowledge Engineering has introduced as An Understanding Society.

All of these are essential to sociotechnical developments, where such technical developments as those of cheap solar-cell-powered radio Internets, and therewith mobile telephony, have their realisations in such tools as IPods and iPads. It has been demonstrated that these and other such innovations can be used to catalyse the coming to presence, and even the insurrection, of otherwise repressed knowledges, such as those needed for culturally-integrated organic agricultures, aquacultures and health-care systems.

In this work, hydroinformatics becomes clearly more concerned with communication alongside ongoing advances in computation. As part of this development, Knowledge Engineering has been more recently instrumental in founding the Water-Knowledge Initiative which is described in several of the more recent publications listed on this web site. This Initiative was effectively concluded in March 2009 with the establishing of the viability of the Software as a Service (SaaS) paradigm in hydroinformatics modelling through a Doctoral Thesis of Emmanuel Tumwesigye at the National University of Ireland, University College of Cork. This included a practical demonstration of the viability of this approach, and especially in terms of the very acceptable time responses of the methodology so developed.  

Alongside the development of the concept of an understanding society in place of a knowledge society was the introduction of such concepts as knowledge supply chain analyses and extended knowledge halos  and their corresponding business models as described in the paper entitled Applications of Numerical Modelling in Hydroinformatics and its successors.

These and other developments again have come to a quite another level of expression in the 2012 book entitled Flood Risk and Social Justice of Zoran Vojinović and Michael B. Abbott which is described elsewhere in this website. This represents a quantum jump in terms of the quality of its analyses of how the future of hydroinformatics depends upon a much deeper understanding of the foundations of all our present endeavours.

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