New advances in Internet technologies and computer modeling provide opportunities for collaborative systems to support research and development in the field of industrial ecology. In particular, new information technologies such as semantic search engines based on ontologies could help researchers to link fragments of knowledge generated at research centers from around the world. Using a storyline of four imaginary researchers who hope to find collaborators in order to develop their research findings, we illustrate two levels of a four-level architecture for an Internet-based knowledge integration and collaboration environment for integrated environmental assessment. The foundation of the proposed architecture is a belief that computational models are an effective medium for conveying expert knowledge of various phenomena. Drawing from this premise, the first level of the architecture stands on a base of computational models that in some way represent the expert knowledge of the model builder. At the second level, we provide markup and interface definition tools to describe the type of knowledge contained in each model, together with the types of information services that can be provided.
The results of research at these two levels of an Internet-based knowledge integration environment for integrated environmental assessment in industrial ecology are presented in this article. Our work on the third level of model searching and matching and the fourth level of parametric model integration and solving will be presented in subsequent articles.