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In order to make the changes that are required to create a sustainable planet, people need to have a better understanding of the world around them. This requires us to imagine and create new ways to see and interact with information. Imagine if you could “see” pollution. What if you could see how polluted or clean your bathing water is? Through the ability to visualize this information, we hope that people and governments throughout the world will be able to make more appropriate changes in the way we use and manage our resources.
This is precisely why I am so excited about the work we’re doing with the European Environment Agency (EEA) on the Eye On Earth Global Observatory. In 2008, we helped the EEA launch Eye On Earth’s first application, Water Watch, and it has provided millions of Europeans not only valuable Water quality information but also a way for any citizen to report on the water quality and take action. Today, we are pleased to help the EEA upgrade Eye On Earth and launch a new application, AirWatch which represents the first time the EEA have been able to provide EU citizens with up-to-date monitoring information on air quality which includes both official and community reported observations as one easily understood measurement.
Microsoft and EEA share the belief that smart action on climate change is dependent on timely and relevant data. AirWatch, allows the EEA to provide over 500 million EU citizens with up to date monitoring information on air quality, going beyond Ozone to include particulate matter (PM10) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Consider an asthma patient who might decide before booking a flight whether to travel to a city with poor air quality or the government official that is working to make a decision on potential air quality legislation. AirWatch provides both with useful information, allowing them to make more-informed decisions. One of the most unique qualities of the Eye On Earth application is the ability for citizens to take part in the feedback process which has allowed consumers to take action and report real-time environmental changes. This two-way communication is a both unique and critical as the world works together toward the sustainability of our planet.
We believe technology will play an important role as the world moves to a low carbon economy, but addressing Climate change requires a comprehensive and global response from all sectors of society. Our work with EEA is undertaken with this in mind. Our partnership with EEA is a powerful example of different organizations – public and private sector – combining their separate areas of expertise towards a shared challenge and we look forward to continuing our collaboration and providing useful tools for citizens and government decision-makers alike.
Try it at http://www.eyeonearth.eu