The European Environment Agency (EEA) and Microsoft have announced a new five-year alliance to develop a world-leading online portal, bringing environmental information to more than 500 million citizens across Europe.
The alliance with Microsoft is among the first steps in the EEA’s broader vision and strategy to build a Global Observatory for Environmental Change.
The Observatory will be a readily available resource for experts, policy-makers and individuals — and will allow citizens to submit local data — delivering an ever-more detailed, accurate and up-to-date picture of environmental conditions throughout Europe.
Reliable and timely information is vital for making informed personal and policy decisions relating to the fight against climate change and adverse environmental conditions. By improving the availability of information, the EEA aims to better enable policy-makers and citizens to make decisions about the environment and their impact on it.
As well as enhancing the availability and presentation of data, the observatory will augment data collection, allowing citizens and non-governmental organisations to play a greater role in gathering environmental information from across the continent. It could also evolve to include real-time satellite information for emergency relief services, as well as for other environmental operations.
Microsoft is providing development services to help the EEA extend the focus on important environmental factors that include air, ozone and water quality information.
“To sustain the improvements in the environment made over the past few decades, everyone needs to be involved and understand the consequences and impact of their actions,” said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA.
“The only way to do this is by reaching out to the widest audience. This collaboration with Microsoft is a groundbreaking approach to bring environmental information to as many people as possible.”
Environmental sustainability is a longstanding commitment at Microsoft and involves working with groups that have a global perspective and reach, including the EEA. The Observatory project will help further that commitment to improve social and environmental conditions across Europe and promote responsible environmental practices across a range of industries and regions.
“Global partnerships with organisations, such as the EEA, to address environmental issues worldwide represent one key area of Microsoft’s overall environmental sustainability strategy,” said Jan Muehlfeit, chairman, Microsoft Europe.
“Combating climate change is a critical challenge facing all governments, and Microsoft is honoured to be working with the EEA to find ways where the power of software can be part of the solution.”
The EEA and Microsoft are developing an internet portal offering access to information by location and allowing for search criteria based on local environmental monitoring agencies. The data will be updated in real time in a comprehensive manner. Users will also be able to access the information through Windows Live and MSN.
“Microsoft continues to explore ways to help solve environmental issues through technology leadership and innovation, and global partnerships. Our collaboration with the EEA is one example of this commitment,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft.
“We believe that the combination of real-time information coming from the network of sensors coupled with the analytical and visualization power of software will provide the EEA with a better understanding of our environment. We are excited and honoured to be partnering with the EEA in helping drive global change for the environment.”
The alliance between the EEA and Microsoft is part of a broader effort to empower all European citizens by giving them up-to-date information, allowing them to take appropriate action when necessary