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You are here: Home / Media / News / Interactive technology empowers Europeans to manage environmental change

Interactive technology empowers Europeans to manage environmental change

As part of their partnership combining cutting-edge technology and environmental data, Microsoft Corp and the European Environment Agency (EEA) have expanded their Eye On Earth portal. A new application, AirWatch provides information on air quality to more than 500 million people across Europe. For the first time, EEA brings together both measured and modelled data alongside citizens' observations on air quality.

Our environment is changing. We all notice small differences where we live or regularly visit. Eye On Earth gives all of us the opportunity to inform and be informed of such changes. The Microsoft technology behind Eye On Earth and AirWatch makes environmental information much more accessible. As more people understand what's happening in their area, more will contribute to solving environmental problems.

Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA

Eye On Earth was launched in May 2008 with WaterWatch, an application presenting water-quality data on an interactive site powered by Bing Maps. With this new update, Eye On Earth gets not just a fresh look and feel for both air and bathing water information, it also becomes one of the newest applications built on Windows Azure and SQL Azure hosting the Geo Observatory Data Store. The site's user interface provides interactive information from Europe-wide to street level, based on data from air-quality measurement stations and citizens' input. It translates scientific data into easily understandable terms.

In addition to near real-time data on specific air pollutants available from air-quality measurement stations, AirWatch presents air-quality information based on Europe-wide modelling covering larger areas. This allows users to get an indication of the air quality anywhere in Europe and not only in the proximity of measurement stations. Users will also see how other viewers described the air in a particular area.

"Our environment is changing. We all notice small differences where we live or regularly visit," said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of EEA. "Eye On Earth gives all of us the opportunity to inform and be informed of such changes. The Microsoft technology behind Eye On Earth and AirWatch makes environmental information much more accessible. As more people understand what’s happening in their area, more will contribute to solving environmental problems."

"Addressing environmental change requires a comprehensive and global response," said Rob Bernard, chief environment strategist at Microsoft. "As a technology industry leader, Microsoft is committed to creating solutions for environmental sustainability and fostering connections between governments and citizens by applying leading-edge technology to help people visualise the impact of environmental challenges. Our partnership with the EEA is a powerful example of different organisations — public and private sector — combining their separate areas of expertise towards a shared challenge."

By linking locally relevant information from near real-time public observations to scientific measurements, the AirWatch and WaterWatch applications create an important new channel for policy-makers and citizens across Europe to communicate environmental data. This feedback loop, facilitated through the smart application of Microsoft technology, provides a vital connection point between Europe's people and the environment. It signals a new era in user-centric environmental innovation.

Eye On Earth also includes features developed by Microsoft Services in concert with partners such as mBlox Inc. The EEA works with mBlox as its short message service (SMS) transaction partner for the Eye On Earth portal, leveraging its mobile transaction network that can instantly send a message to more than 3 billion people across nearly 200 countries.

"SMS is an ideal component of the Eye On Earth service, as it is environmentally friendly and the ubiquity of SMS means that the service is accessible to everyone through mobile phones and the internet, irrespective of international borders," said Andrew Dark, CEO of mBlox.

"It's good to see continued innovation and a commitment to interoperability through cross-browser support from the EEA," said James Governor, RedMonk industry analyst. "SMS support dramatically lowers barriers to access for environmental quality information for 500 million citizens."

In coming weeks, Eye On Earth will be made available in 24 additional European languages. Moreover, the portal will continue to be enriched with other environmental information from across Europe, covering themes such as biodiversity and noise.

About the European Environment Agency

The European Environment Agency is the European Union body dedicated to providing sound, independent information on the environment. The agency aims to achieve significant and measurable improvements in Europe’s environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-makers and the public.

About Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)

Microsoft has operated in EMEA since 1982. In the region Microsoft employs more than 16,000 people in over 64 subsidiaries, delivering products and services in more than 139 countries and territories.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

For more information, press only:

Ms Gülçin Karadeniz, European Environment Agency, +45 23 68 36 53,

Jessica Smart, Weber Shandwick for Microsoft, +44 207 067 0741,

Note to editors:

If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft web page on Microsoft's corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed there.

For additional information on the technical aspects of Eye on Earth, please visit EMEA Microsoft press site.


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