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Pervasive informatics

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Dec 17, 2021

Pervasive informatics is the study of how information affects interactions with the built environments they occupy. The term and concept were initially introduced by Professor Kecheng Liu during a keynote speech at the SOLI 2008 international conference.[1][failed verification]

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The built environment is rich with information which can be utilised by its occupants to enhance the quality of their work and life. By introducing ICT systems, this information can be created, managed, distributed and consumed more effectively, leading to more advanced interactions between users and the environment. The social interactions in these spaces are of additional value, and Informatics can effectively capture the complexities of such information rich activities.[2] Information literally pervades, or spreads throughout, these socio-technical systems, and pervasive informatics aims to study, and assist in the design of, pervasive information environments, or pervasive spaces, for the benefit of their stakeholders and users.

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Pervasive informatics may be initially viewed as simply another branch of pervasive, or ubiquitous computing. However, pervasive informatics places a greater emphasis on the ICT-enhanced socio-technical pervasive spaces, as opposed to the technology driven direction of pervasive computing. This distinction between fields is analogous to that of informatics and computing, where Informatics focuses on the study of information, while the primary concern of computing is the processing of information. Pervasive informatics aims to analyse the pervasive nature of information, examining its various representations and transformations in pervasive spaces, which are enabled by pervasive computing technologies e.g. smart devices and intelligent control systems.

A pervasive space is characterised by the physical and informational interaction between the occupants and the built environment e.g. the act of controlling the building is a physical interaction, while the space responding to this action/user instruction is an informational interaction.

Intelligent pervasive spaces are those that display intelligent behaviour in the form of adaptation to user requirements or the environment itself. Such intelligent behaviour can be implemented using artificial intelligence algorithms and agent-based technologies. These intelligent spaces aim to provide communication and computing services to their occupants in such a way that the experience is almost transparent e.g. automated control of heating and ventilation based on occupant preference profiles.[2]

The term first appeared in an IBM Research Report [3] but was not properly defined or discussed until later. An intelligent pervasive space is a “social and physical space with enhanced capability through ICT for human to interact with the built environments” [1] An alternative definition is “an adaptable and dynamic area that optimises user services and management processes using information systems and networked ubiquitous technologies”.[4] A common point between these definitions is that pervasive computing technologies are the means by which intelligence and interactions are achieved in pervasive spaces, with the purpose of enhancing a users experience.

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