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You are here: Home / News / Sharing environmental information to improve policy

Sharing environmental information to improve policy

Public authorities across Europe collect a vast range of environmental data but different practices of classification and reporting make it difficult to access them and use them for cross-border analyses.

The shared environmental information system (SEIS) aims to fulfill this gap by interconnecting existing databases, promoting the use of standards and making data accessible to all. The European Environment Agency has an important part to play in this process.

Many countries have already started connecting their local and national databases and publishing their data online. For example, the German environmental portal "PortalU" brings together data from several several hundred thousand webpages and more than 120 public agencies. Italy is developing an environmental information and monitoring system (EIMS Italy).

Such initiatives will be the building blocks of SEIS, which will ensure that policy makers and citizens alike can easily find and access the latest data available through not only the European Environment Agency (EEA) portal but also national portals.

A portal for sharing ozone information is already in place. High concentration of ozone at ground level is a health hazard. It can cause breathing difficulties and damage lungs, especially in children and people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Every hour, the EEA receives ozone data from some 700 measurement stations across Europe. Within hours this information is presented online in form of maps (Ozone live map).

Why do we need to know?

We are affected by the state of the environment in an area much larger than our immediate surroundings. Policy-makers depend on reliable and real-time information to determine the most appropriate course of action. For people in border regions as well as occasional tourists, information on air pollution or water quality across the border could prove crucial. 

What next? 

As a first step in the implementation of the SEIS, the European Commission presented on 1 February 2008 the approach to modernise and simplify the collection, exchange and use of data and information required in connection with environmental policy. Later in the year, in collaboration with European countries and the EEA, the Commission will present a detailed implementation plan. 

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