Europeans rate water quality of beaches , lakes and rivers using the Internet
On June 20th 2012, in the presence of Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, sustainability legend Gro Harlem Brundtland, IPCC Chair Rajendra K. Pachauri, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard and 150 VIP guests at Rio+20, Eye on Earth has been chosen for the prestigious SUSTAINIA 100 list of solutions. For more information, you can visit: http://www.esri.com/news/releases/12-2qtr/eye-on-earth-honoured-as-a-top-sustainable-solution-at-rio20.html
Eye on Earth is a partnership created by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and Microsoft that allows Europeans to understand and rate the quality of the water they swim in. It also provides a tool for communities that can be used in their claim for cleaner water.
|Program Fast Facts
There was no simple way for people in Europe to check water cleanliness ratings for beaches, lakes and rivers.
Microsoft and the EEA have developed an innovative, easy-to-use and free web tool to check, compare and leave feedback on water quality at swimming spots across the European Union.
- EU citizens can now review water quality and choose in advance where to swim.
- Policy makers now have a measurable tool to focus on improvements
- The site’s social networking features allows anyone to participate by rating, commenting and uploading pictures of their favorite beaches.
In July 2008, Microsoft and the European Environment Agency (EEA) announced the launch of WaterWatch, an innovative water quality monitoring tool that covers thousands of swimming spots at European beaches, lakes and rivers.
WaterWatch is the pioneering first step in a five-year collaboration between the EEA and Microsoft entitled “Eye on Earth Online Environmental Observatory” that will ultimately gather together critical information, including European water, soil, air and ozone indicators, in one place.
Bathing water cleanliness can be a major public health issue but until now, people in Europe have not had a simple way to check and understand the cleanliness of the water they swim in, or the ability to report on and change the state of the beaches, lakes and rivers they visit. Eye on Earth retrieves data from 21,000 monitoring points across Europe, presenting recent water quality ratings for swimming sites across 32 member countries in 25 languages and, for some beaches, historical ratings for up to the past 18 years.
A traffic-light-style evaluation of water quality based on traditional monitoring methods is supported by similar ratings reflecting the experiences of people who have visited the beach. Combining these streams of information provides accurate and up-to-date information on bathing water quality across Europe, and makes it available to anyone who has access to the internet.
“As environmental problems become more evident and affect the lives of ordinary individuals, it is vitally important that we can access relevant and timely information on the impact of environmental change,” says Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.
“With Eye on Earth, the EEA and Microsoft plan to bring complex strands of information together into a single, simple-to-use and easy-to-understand application — so, as more data and user findings are posted on the portal, we can see how climate change affects the way we live and how the way we live affects the environment.”
Using Microsoft’s Bing Maps technology, Eye on Earth provides a bird’s-eye view of the beach, lakeside or riverside swimming spot that users plan to visit, while Microsoft SQL Server 2008’s data management and geospatial capabilities provide information that helps them to understand the cleanliness of the water they or their families plan to swim in. Applications built on Windows Azure ensure that this information is always quickly and easily available from any internet-enabled device. Microsoft is also making Eye on Earth available to over 100 million users of the MSN online media network through specially localized channels in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK.
"Eye on Earth delivers the kinds of information that the public can really understand," says Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Spokesperson of the UN World Tourism Organization. "Using the application, people can now find out what is happening on the beach near them or the one they plan to visit on holiday. WaterWatch demonstrates how technology can develop our understanding of the world around us and let us make informed choices on the kind of environment we want to live in or visit."
WaterWatch gathers data from 21,000 monitoring points across Europe, presenting recent water quality ratings for swimming sites across 32 European countries in 24 languages
“Eye on Earth is a great example of how technology has the power to help governments, business and individuals understand what is happening to our environment,” says Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft. “By combining environmental data with mapping technologies, it is possible for people to see where changes are happening. Eye on Earth provides people with information that has historically been difficult to find. With this new application, people will be more informed and be able to take appropriate actions to help ensure a cleaner environment.”
ABOUT THE EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
The European Environment Agency (EEA) 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. To find out more about the EEA, visit: www.eea.europe.eu. WaterWatch is accessible from www.eyeonearth.eu and from MSN.
Additional websites to mention:
Environment at Microsoft