Durban, South Africa: The European Environment Agency (EEA), Esri and Microsoft Corp. announced the launch of the Eye on Earth network, a cloud-based online community for developing innovative services that map environmental parameters. The announcement was made during the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The new cloud computing-based network provides a collaborative online service for hosting, sharing and discovering data on the environment and promotes the principles of public data access and citizen science.
The network is being launched with three Eye on Earth services available — WaterWatch, AirWatch and NoiseWatch, which are being made available today at COP17. WaterWatch uses the EEA’s environmental data to monitor and display water quality ratings across Europe’s public swimming sites. Also built from the EEA’s data, AirWatch illustrates air quality ratings in Europe. NoiseWatch combines the EEA’s data with input from citizens. Noise Meter, a new mobile application for noise level readings available on mobile operating systems Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7.5, allows users to take noise level readings from their mobile devices and instantly upload them into NoiseWatch’s database.
The Eye on Earth network provides organisations with a security-enhanced central location for managing their geospatial environmental content. It uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online cloud services coupled with Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure and it hosts the data in the Environmental Data Store. The network’s user interface enables the easy creation and sharing of map-based services, translating complex scientific data into accessible, interactive and visual web services. With Eye on Earth, users can create and share maps within their organisation or make the content publicly available as web-accessible services. 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 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. “With the input of environmental stakeholders globally, we’re pleased to see the network expand and become a vital service for those interested in learning more about the environment. Environmental policy makers also have a new tool to understand and visualise environmental information to support good environmental policy making.”
“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. The impact of projects such as Eye on Earth shows the potential that new types of partnerships and technology can yield.”
“Eye on Earth allows for extensive collaboration among European agencies and communities,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. “This platform, based on ArcGIS Online, is putting environmental information into the hands of many. It equips people with tools and information to engage in conversation, analysis, reporting and policy making. In addition, this platform, developed for Europe, can be implemented in other countries and regions of the world.”