A new global web service allowing users to create maps and visualise data on environmental issues is now live. The new Eye on Earth global public information service brings together vast amounts of data about the environment in a powerful, visual format.
The online service has been developed jointly by the European Environment Agency (EEA), an EU body and a leading environmental network and information partner, the geographic information system developer Esri and Microsoft.
The web service takes the form of online maps, which can be manipulated by users. Without the need for any technical training, people can choose to add a huge variety of layers to the map – for example showing pollution, social development, economic factors, land use, transport and so on – to create new insights. The creators of Eye on Earth hope to add other data visualisation functions in the future, alongside the mapping tools. Maps and other data can also be saved and shared through social media.
Official information providers such as national environmental institutions can upload information from their vast networks of monitoring stations. The EEA has already uploaded large amounts of data onto Eye on Earth for free and accessible use. This includes data on water, air, climate change, biodiversity and land use.
Other organisations which have also uploaded data include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), the US Geological Survey and the Abu Dhabi government. Data from new European observation satellites may also be added in the future.
The web service is aimed at everyone, from scientists to academics, NGOs to individuals. Moreover, Eye on Earth does not just display data – it is also a platform where individuals and organisations can upload their measurements and observations, filling crucial gaps. It aims to ‘crowd source’ information from individuals across the world, and bring in data from many different groups, including ‘citizen science’, indigenous knowledge and lay expertise.