Israel Environment Bulletin Winter 1994-5754, Vol. 17, No. 1

HOLIT – ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION SYSTEM

In Israel, as in the rest of the world, environmental information can now be at the fingertips of anyone with access to a personal computer. At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, intensive effort has been invested over the past year in the development of a computerized data base on the environment. While the need for a central information system on the environment, which also enables access to global data systems, has been recognized for some time, two developments catalyzed the initiation of the project: the increasing number of government, academic, public and private bodies dealing with environmental matters and the computer revolution which brought about the advent of global communications networks and data bases.

The Holit information system was established as an aid to decision makers on environmental issues and as a simple means of communication between bodies working in Israel. The system is connected to similar information networks by means of the Internet system, a worldwide computer network which serves millions of computer users and includes a large number of data bases dealing with various aspects of the environment, both commercial and non- commercial. Such bodies as universities, non-profit organizations and government bodies provide the information at their command for the benefit of all users of the system, free of cost. Such systems include the data systems of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the CIESIN (Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network) data base, to name a couple.

The program is available to school students, researchers, public institutions and the general publicall of whom will be able to obtain online access to local and international environmental information. Connection is possible by means of a modem which connects the home computer, via a telephone line, to the information system. Access is available by means of a menu and directions in Hebrew and English which lead the user to the desired information.

System Design, Components and User Interface

The HOLIT system uses the WWW (World Wide Web) browser adapted to support Hebrew dialogue. The system also uses software designed to let the user enter his own data easily.

A network of VMS and UNIX based computers, and high speed networking infrastructure support the system software and communications. The system is equipped with a high speed modem (14,400) which enables users from remote destinations to log onto the system.

The system is available to users working via Internet lines by telneting to WWW.HUJI.AC.IL Username TEVA (no password needed).

System Services

The system provides several services which will help users retrieve information from local or remote databases and enter information manually. These include:

  • Access to local discussion groups in Hebrew and English that concentrate on environmental issues.
  • Access to a local bulletin board in Hebrew and English that lets the user enter short notices or messages.
  • Access to the HOLIT local database which includes reports written by various environmental agencies in Israel (including the Israel

    Environment Bulletin).

  • Access to online news reports gathered daily from newspapers and environmental agencies in Israel.
  • Access to an environmental law database on Israel.
  • Access to an on-line bulletin board about grants and funding

    agencies in Israel and elsewhere.

  • Access to data on conferences and congresses.
  • Access to a database on sites and hikes in Israel.
  • Access to library information systems which exist in Israel (Aleph library system) and elsewhere.
  • Access to any Gopher, WWW, Ftp, or Wais database that exists on the Internet lines.
  • Access to UseNet news service.

    The local information in Holit is gathered by the cooperative efforts of the Ministry of the Environment, the Nature Reserves Authority and other environmental agencies in Israel. Users are able to address questions to the different environmental bodies in Israel and to receive consultation and guidance. In addition, it is possible to publish announcements on environmental nuisances, important events, lectures and conferences, nature observations, etc. The Ministry of the Environment ascribes major importance to the emergence of Israel’s first environmental information system, both in terms of its positive impact on its own work and in terms of its contribution to environmental awareness in general.

    Holit, which is supported by contributions from EcoNet Israel and the Jerusalem Fund, is currently working on enlarging its database of online textual and graphical information about Israel and on creating a network of information resources which will feed the system. The goalfostering environmental awareness and activity by enabling more and more people to obtain updated and easily accessible information on the environment.

    For more information, please contact:

    Dudu Rashty,
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
    Computation Center,
    Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904
    Israel