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Public sector

Environmental data sharing in the cloud

The European Environment Agency (EEA), Esri and Microsoft have launched a cloud computing network for hosting and sharing environmental data.

The Eye on Earth network provides a secure central location for managing geospatial environmental information. Users can create maps and then share them within their organisation or with the public via an online service.

The service is designed to make complex scientific data more accessible, interactive and visual.

The launch of the Eye on Earth network is a great leap forward in helping citizens around the world better understand some of the most pressing environmental challenges in their local area

Jacqueline McGlade, European Environment Agency
“The launch of the Eye on Earth network is a great leap forward in helping organisations provide the public with authoritative data on the environment and in helping citizens around the world better understand some of the most pressing environmental challenges in their local area,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of EEA.

McGlade continued: "Environmental policy makers also have a new tool to understand and visualise environmental information to support good environmental policy making.”

It uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online cloud services, Windows Azure public cloud computing offering and SQL Azure cloud database, and it hosts the data in the Environmental Data Store.

“With the launch of the new Eye on Earth network, citizens, governments and scientists now have an easy-to-use, scalable platform for collecting, sharing and visualising the world’s critical environmental data,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. “I am excited by the possibilities that technology provides to transform data into powerful, visual maps that everyone can interact with."

“This platform, based on ArcGIS Online, is putting environmental information into the hands of many,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. “It equips people with tools and information to engage in conversation, analysis, reporting and policy making.”

The online service was announced at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Eye on Earth was first launched in 2008 as part of a public-private partnership between the EEA and Microsoft with the joint goal of making environmental data available to all 600 million citizens across the EEA’s 32 member and seven cooperating countries.

“The impact of projects such as Eye on Earth shows the potential that new types of partnerships and technology can yield,” said Bernard.

“Eye on Earth allows for extensive collaboration among European agencies and communities,” added Dangermond. “In addition, this platform, developed for Europe, can be implemented in other countries and regions of the world.”

The network is being launched with three other Eye on Earth services WaterWatch, AirWatch and NoiseWatch.

WaterWatch uses the EEA’s environmental data to monitor and display water quality ratings across Europe’s public swimming sites. AirWatch, meanwhile, illustrates air quality ratings in Europe.

NoiseWatch is a new web service that measures noise in 164 European cities.

Noise Meter is a mobile app that allows people to take noise level readings from their mobiles and instantly upload them into NoiseWatch’s database. It is available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7.5.

For more information, visit the Eye on Earth website.

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