VMB-Image 7

What is the "Virtual Mekong Basin?"

VMB-Image 1

VMB-Image 1

VMB-Image 1

   Analysis of the suite of issues confronting the Mekong basin poses information challenges, from the management and analysis of complex data to conveying the results to (non-technical) Decision Makers and a general public. There are multiple stakeholders in this complex region, from government policy to private developers (large and small) to citizen activists to indigenous peoples The Mekong River Commission (MRC) serves a central, key information function, as defined by the Mekong Agreement of 1995. A reality is that there is so much information addressing the region that it becomes difficult to provide a synthetic view of the overall dynamics of the region, and how it would change, under different conditions of development practices and climate change.

   A very important reality is that the range of stakeholders in the Basin varies enormously, from highly technical managers and scientists to politicians to business executives to fishermen and farmers. To make the most informed decisions about the future of the Mekong, it is important that the full range of stakeholders have knowledge. But this poses very significant challenges, given the different levels of knowledge across the range of stakeholders; the challenge is how to reach them.

   The incorporation of more sophisticated information management systems, from data acquisition, distribution, and visualization into “cyber-infrastructure” could be an important next step. The metaphor is the development of a ‘Virtual Mekong Basin” (VMB), where basin attributes can be examined and summarized digitally and then visually. The overall objective of this project was to leverage ongoing environmental management and science efforts by the MRC/IKMP, the University of Washington (UW), the Finnish Syke project, and related colleagues with emerging “dynamic information framework” technologies (web portals, visualizations, etc) by the UW to begin to outline what a prototype VMB might be. The project itself was scheduled for only 6 months, with the funding focusing only the development of the web portal itself. The overall objective of the VMB prototype project was to:

To visualize and describe the major balances of the Mekong River Basin (Virtual Mekong Basin) for Learning and understanding purposes based on scientific information.

For example, a synthesis of multiple information source via a "model" (see - under framework) to produce output that is tangible to someone other than the specialist can be seen in this animation of the outputs of the "VIC" hydrology model for the Mekong.