Look for a world of low-cost networked sensors to change many aspects of engineering in the coming years. Environmental management is one example. Link to a paper and the abstract:
"Two critical problems in environmental management are a lack of primary data and the difficulty of assessing the environmental impacts of human activities. Producing the information necessary to address these twin challenges is often difficult and expensive, which impedes decisionmaking in environmental management. I focus here on the possibility of making data collection more powerful and more cost-effective with a suite of analyses made tractable by emerging technology for genetic analysis. More, better, cheaper, and faster information about the planet’s living resources promises to influence a wide range of legal and policy processes — from Clean Water Act compliance and related public health initiatives, to fishery stock assessments, to NEPA compliance — and could help to make value-laden resource decisions more transparent in the bargain. As gathering data becomes cheaper, we may observe downstream effects to the incentives and behaviors of public agencies. Moreover, if in the future primary data is less of a limiting factor in environmental decisionmaking, it becomes increasingly important to understand the process of developing useful knowledge from raw data, and the processes by which such information may lead to action."