October – Taking a closer look at Environment Sustainability

04 October 2011 | Michele Bedford Thistle, Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

As I mentioned in my introductory blog post, from time to time, Microsoft on Government will be exploring key themes that matter to the public sector. This October we’ve planned a series of posts focusing on Environmental Sustainability. The series will reflect upon the ways in which we can be less wasteful as a society and help protect and preserve environmental quality in our communities. At Microsoft, we recognize that this responsibility begins at home. By next year, our goal is to reduce our carbon emissions per unit of revenue by at least 30 percent (compared with 2007 levels). Learn more about our environmental initiatives.

Do you have a story that you’d like to share? If so, we’d love to hear it, and possibly include it in a series of environmental stories we’ll be talking about this month. Please contact me directly to submit content for consideration for a future blog post.

An Eye on Europe

From enforcing environmental regulations to promoting energy efficiency, public sector institutions take environmental sustainability very seriously. However, this goal cannot be achieved without public awareness and support. That’s why in 2008, the European Environment Agency (EEA) launched a program called Eye on Earth – the first web-based visualization tool for environmental data. In partnership with Microsoft, Eye on Earth was created to make environmental data more accessible for European citizens and policy makers, with the goal of keeping them more informed and engaged.

Water Watch, which allows governments, policymakers, and individual citizens to compare the cleanliness of swimming sites from locations across the 32 EEA member countries using Bing maps, was the first application developed for Eye on Earth. Next came Air Watch, an application that tracks and reports on particulate matter (PM10), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and Ozone (O3) indicators, providing EU citizens with unprecedented information on air quality. Together these applications have empowered EU citizens with tools to become more aware of environmental changes across Europe. However, to make the greatest impact, it became clear that the next step for the program was going mobile.

Matchbox Mobile, a privately-held company and Microsoft technology partner specializing in mobile and embedded software development, worked with Microsoft to build an Eye on Earth mobile application for the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Application Marketplace in September 2010. By moving Eye on Earth to a mobile platform, the EEA is now able to make its environmental data immediately accessible to millions of Europeans in the places they live, work, and spend their free time. In addition to improving access to information, the new mobile application has enabled people with health sensitivities (such as asthma) to make more informed decisions when environmental conditions are potentially harmful.

For policymakers, researchers, and environmental stakeholders, putting Eye on Earth on mobile devices has also enhanced the value of EEA’s data and aides field research. Users can input their opinions on air and water quality through the application, empowering environmental groups and individuals to support the EEA’s efforts in data gathering and policy support.

Download the full case study on Eye on Earth.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Michele Bedford Thistle
Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Michele Bedford Thistle | Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

Michele is focused on sharing stories from government customers creating real impact for citizens, employees, economies, and students. She joined the worldwide team from Microsoft Canada, where she was also marketing lead for several technology start-ups.