Eye on Earth
first appeared in May 2008 through the launch of WaterWatch, an online interactive map of Europe that presents the latest available official water quality of bathing areas data from 28 countries. This was followed in November 2009 with the launch of AirWatch providing near real-time air pollution data from 32 European countries. Both Watches have also engaged citizens by allowing them to send personal ratings of air and bathing water quality to the website. These Watches were developed in partnership with Microsoft. In 2010 and 2011, progress continued on the development of Watches and the advanced version of the Eye on Earth website.
WaterWatch and AirWatch will together remain embedded in the EEA's new website which was launched on 21 November 2011.
On 1 December 2011, a new integrated Watches application, which combines WaterWatch, AirWatch and a new NoiseWatch, will be launched during the 17th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa. NoiseWatch will offer cutting-edge mobile noise monitoring capabilities and the ability to instantly view previous noise pollution levels in 164 cities. According to EEA assessments, over 50 % of inhabitants in some of Europe’s largest cities consider noise pollution to be a significant problem.
On 12-15 December 2011 at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi, EEA will be launching the Eye on Earth Network. Its goal is to collect and share vast amounts of environmental data and information from a wide diversity of sources. This will help expand and improve the environmental knowledge base, especially for Europe’s environmental community, and additionally for the global community. Online web applications will also allow users to manipulate the collected information to create new knowledge, without the need for technical expertise.
Much of the website will be open and accessible to anyone in the world. It will also have 'sub-sites' that can be managed by, for example, organizations or countries. EEA will have its own sub-site. Similar to YouTube, data and information can be shared within closed groups or with the entire Eye on Earth network.
During the Eye on Earth Summit, EEA will also announce the launch of NatureWatch in 2012. NatureWatch is the first in a series of environmental watches in which EEA will use citizen science to involve citizens in environmental activities in Europe. NatureWatch focuses on invasive alien species, one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss in Europe. EEA is working in collaboration with communities of voluntary citizen scientists in pilot European countries. These will participate in the new network and report their findings, using web and smart phone applications.