Eye on Earth Enables Cloud-Based Environmental Data Sharing

The European Environment Agency, Esri, and Microsoft launch new online community and application development platform

The European Environment Agency (EEA), Esri and Microsoft Corp. today announced, at the 17th Conference of the Parties(COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the launch of the Eye on Earth network, an online community for developing innovative services that map environmental parameters. The new cloud computing-based network provides a collaborative online service for hosting, sharing and discovering data on the environment and promotes the principles of public data access and citizen science. In addition, the organisations also announced NoiseWatch, a new web service available on the Eye on Earth network that measures noise in 164 European cities.

Eye On Earth

The Eye on Earth network provides organisations with a security-enhanced central location for managing their geospatial environmental content. It uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online cloud services coupled with Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure, and it hosts the data in the Environmental Data Store. The network’s user interface enables the easy creation and sharing of map-based services, translating complex scientific data into accessible, interactive and visual web services. With Eye on Earth, users can create and share maps within their organisation or make the content publicly available as web-accessible services. Eye on Earth was first launched in 2008 as part of a public-private partnership between the EEA and Microsoft with the joint goal of making environmental data available to all 600 million citizens across the EEA’s 32 member and seven cooperating countries.

“The launch of the Eye on Earth network is a great leap forward in helping organisations provide the public with authoritative data on the environment and in helping citizens around the world better understand some of the most pressing environmental challenges in their local area,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of EEA. “With the input of environmental stakeholders globally, we’re pleased to see the network expand and become a vital service for those interested in learning more about the environment. Environmental policy makers also have a new tool to understand and visualise environmental information to support good environmental policy making.”

The network is being launched with three Eye on Earth services available – WaterWatch, AirWatch and NoiseWatch, which are being made available today at COP17. WaterWatch uses the EEA’s environmental data to monitor and display water quality ratings across Europe’s public swimming sites. Also built from the EEA’s data, AirWatch illustrates air quality ratings in Europe. NoiseWatch combines the EEA’s data with input from citizens. Noise Meter, a new mobile application for noise level readings available on mobile operating systems Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7.5, allows users to take noise level readings from their mobile devices and instantly upload them into NoiseWatch’s database.

“With the launch of the new Eye on Earth network, citizens, governments and scientists now have an easy-to-use, scalable platform for collecting, sharing and visualising the world’s critical environmental data,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. “I am excited by the possibilities that technology provides to transform data into powerful, visual maps that everyone can interact with. The impact of projects such as Eye on Earth shows the potential that new types of partnerships and technology can yield.”

“Eye on Earth allows for extensive collaboration among European agencies and communities,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. “This platform, based on ArcGIS Online, is putting environmental information into the hands of many. It equips people with tools and information to engage in conversation, analysis, reporting and policy making. In addition, this platform, developed for Europe, can be implemented in other countries and regions of the world.”

Next week at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi, a Rio+20 preparatory meeting, a consortium of partners will meet to re-affirm the importance of providing environmental data through the Eye on Earth network.

More information about Eye on Earth is available at http://www.eyeonearth.org.

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. More information about the EEA is available at http://www.eea.europa.eu.

About Esri

Founded in 1969, Esri (esri.com) is the world leader in the GIS software industry. Esri offers innovative solutions that help users create, manage, analyze, and display information to make timely decisions and solve problems they encounter every day. Esri’s comprehensive product line ranges from desktop GIS to GIS for the enterprise.

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.

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.

[Source: Microsoft press release]

GeoTAIS: An Application of Spatial Analysis for Traffic Safety Improvements on Provincial Highways in Saskatchewan

Annual Conference of the Transportation Association of CanadaAnnual Conference of the Transportation Association of Canada, 2011

Brandt Denham, George Eguakun, and Kwei Quaye

“Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is responsible for collecting and maintaining a comprehensive database of traffic accidents. This data is used by SGI and other safety partners for monitoring, decision making and the evaluation of traffic safety program initiatives in Saskatchewan. The GeoTAIS project was launched in July of 2010 in an effort to enhance the quality of Saskatchewan’s traffic accident database to keep up with cutting edge traffic safety analysis/research and to facilitate the provision of well informed traffic safety programs in Saskatchewan.

Actual Wildlife Accident Locations on Highway 16, Control Section 24

Actual Wildlife Accident Locations on Highway 16, Control Section 24

“The overarching goal of the project is to develop a Geographic Information System (GIS) that would allow for the visual representation of the traffic accident data captured in the SGI’s Traffic Accident Information System (TAIS) and SGI’s claims information systems in a spatial format. The second goal of the project is to deploy guidelines from the recently published AASHTO Highway Safety Manual combined with the spatial data from GeoTAIS to develop Safety Performance Functions (SPFs) for all provincial highways in Saskatchewan. The final goal of the project is to utilize the spatial data, SPFs and the Empirical Bayes (EB) method to visually identify collision hotspots and areas in the provincial road network with high potential for safety improvements. The success of the project will help ensure that traffic safety problem identification, investments, monitoring, and program evaluation in Saskatchewan are informed by the best data in a speedy and efficient manner. This paper discusses the development of the GeoTAIS project and its application in identifying hazardous wildlife crash locations as part of the ongoing efforts to improve traffic safety on Saskatchewan’s provincial highways.”

Using Geographical Information Systems Mapping to Identify Areas Presenting High Risk for Traumatic Brain Injury

Emerging Themes in EpidemiologyEmerging Themes in Epidemiology, 8:7, 04 November 2011

Colantonio A, Moldofsky B, Escobar M, Vernich L, Chipman M, and McLellan B

“Background: The aim of this study is to show how geographical information systems (GIS) can be used to track and compare hospitalization rates for traumatic brain injury (TBI) over time and across a large geographical area using population based data.

“Results & Discussion: Data on TBI hospitalizations, and geographic and demographic variables, came from the Ontario Trauma Registry Minimum Data Set for the fiscal years 1993-1994 and 2001-2002. Various visualization techniques, exploratory data analysis and spatial analysis were employed to map and analyze these data. Both the raw and standardized rates by age/gender of the geographical unit were studied.

Example of mapping of TBI rates and cluster analyses

Example of mapping of TBI rates and cluster analyses.

“Data analyses revealed persistent high rates of hospitalization for TBI resulting from any injury mechanism between two time periods in specific geographic locations.

“Conclusions: This study shows how geographic information systems can be successfully used to investigate hospitalizaton rates for traumatic brain injury using a range of tools and techniques; findings can be used for local planning of both injury prevention and post discharge services, including rehabilitation.”

Geostatistical Approaches for Geovisual Data Exploration, Analysis and 3D-Visualisation in Civil Security

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Markus Wolff and Julia Gonschorek

“This contribution presents selected approaches, methods and tools to facilitate geovisual analytical data exploration for civil security purposes. To analyse large emergency service data of a major German city’s fire department, different data mining techniques are applied. This allows identifying statistical significant clusters in space and time. To facilitate convenient methods for exploring such complex datasets, a GIS-based software is developed. For visualisation and interactive exploration these results are integrated into a three-dimensional geovirtual environment.”

Multi-Touch Interaction for Disaster Management

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Volker Paelke, Karsten Nebe, Florian Klompmaker, and Helge Jung

“Multi-touch interaction has become popular in recent years and impressive advances in technology have been demonstrated, with the presentation of digital maps as a common presentation scenario. However, most existing systems are really technology demonstrators and have not been designed with user requirements in mind.

Interaction on the useTable (tangible)

Interaction on the useTable (tangible)

“This paper will report on ongoing activities in a user centred approach to the use of large multi-touch displays to support disaster managment applications. Building on the detailed analysis of user requirements in real-world tasks, the focus is on the design of presentation and interaction styles that exploit the potential of large scale multi-touch displays to reduce cognitive workload while monitoring the impacts on usability and ergonomics, including a study of the potential physiological dangers involved in long-term use.”

Evaluating the Usabilty of Cartographic Animations with Eyemovement Analysis

Proceedings of the 25th International Cartographic Conference, Paris, France, 03–08 July 2011

T. Opach and A. Nossum

“Availability of time-series spatial data and wide access to computer tools has resulted in broad use of cartographic animations. A growing amount of animated maps poses new challenges, in which the efficiency of cartographic communication is of concern (Opach 2005).

“There are various methods for studying usability of maps in general. The methods range from traditional surveys (Suchan and Brewer 2000) to unobtrusive data gathering such as eye-tracking. In recent years the use of eye-tracking in cartography has increased (Fabrikant et al. 2008, Çöltekin et al. 2009, Brodersen et al. 2001, Fabrikant et al. 2010, Li et al. 2010). Availability as well as development of both eye-tracking software and hardware is believed to be the major reason for this.

Examples of: (A) areas of interest, (B) gaze plot and (C) heat map.

Examples of: (A) areas of interest, (B) gaze plot and (C) heat map.

“Eye-tracking provides the ability to record eye movements in unobtrusive manner relying on specialized equipment. Earlier studies using eye-tracking have primarily treated the stimuli as static representations. Although, several studies have also focused on exploring new approaches or analysis methods for eyetracking data to accommodate better cartographic stimuli and qualities associated with this (Garlandini and Fabrikant 2009, Çöltekin et al. 2010).

“Despite the increased focus on eye-tracking, the question remains unanswered on how eye-tracking is suitable as an evaluation method with cartographic animations as stimulus. In this paper we explore the suitability of eye-tracking on two different cartographic animations in an attempt to answer this question.

“We have conducted two eye-tracking experiments with 10 participants each for both an isolated cartographic animation (semistatic animations) and a complex animated map (the Kampinos Forest animation). We have used standard analysis tools to assess and gain experience on their strengths and weaknesses when cartographic animations are used as stimuli. The experience gathered in this process is described throughout this article as well as our suggestions for improvements.”

Animating the Cities: Dynamic Exploration of Harmonized Urban Databases (United States, France, 1800-2000)

Proceedings of the 25th International Cartographic Conference, Paris, France, 03–08 July 2011


“The project consists in a generic visual tool for mapping and analyzing the evolution of a system of cities on a long-term period (2 centuries), in different countries. The project started in 2008 in the framework of a national grant . The first step aimed to build a dynamic urban database over two centuries, in its conceptual form as well as in its fill in. The conception of the visual tool for exploring the database represents the last part of this project and has been developed in 2010 (Van Hamme and al. 2010).

The Observed City and the Modelised City

The Observed City and the Modelised City

“Three main objectives were challenged: Designing a generic tool, that could be possibly used in the future for several countries under study (United States, France, South Africa, and possibly China and India); Allowing a dynamic exploration of the different databases, which raises a range of difficulties as they are spatio-temporal and multi-level (cities themselves and systems of cities); Giving an interactive application, that could be used by a large range of Internet users, from pupils to researchers or urban planners. The resulting interface combines time, location and attributes, according to the triad model (Peuquet, 1994). Attributes are characteristics of cities, such as population, surfaces, density, socio-economic indicators and will include also inter-urban accessibility. The application integrates the interactivity in order to propose an exploratory and animated cartography of urban dynamics, according to our conception of the urban system analysis and in order to stimulate the desire of exploration of the variety of trajectories (Dykes &al. 2004, Andrienko &al. 2005). This paper focuses on the two first implementations, United States and France.”

Real-time Web-based GIS for Analysis, Visualization, and Integration of Marine Environment Data

Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography, 2009, Information Fusion and Geographic Information Systems, Part 6, Pages 277-288

Jacek Dąbrowski, Marcin Kulawiak, Marek Moszyński, Krzysztof Bruniecki and Łukasz Kamiński, et al.

“Visualization and integration of the marine spatial data collected by various marine sensors and sources is an important factor in the context of marine environment sensing and monitoring. Several approaches and techniques of measurements are available to achieve this purpose including direct sampling, airborne and satellite imagery, and underwater acoustics. The paper briefly describes the state-of-the art marine GIS system developed in the Department of Geoinformatics of Gdansk University of Technology, Poland. The proposed system is able to integrate many different types of marine data, especially those acquired by various acoustic sensors like multibeam sonar (MBSS), echosounder and side scan sonars (SSS), and other external sensors such as satellite data receiver, radar, or automated identification of ships (AIS) data analyzer. Instantaneous 2D and 3D visualization is provided by the two components of the system: GeoServer web-based module and a standalone application basing on ESRI ArcGIS Engine solutions.”

Visualising Space‐Time Dynamics: Graphs and Maps, Plots and Clocks

University College LondonThe International Symposium on Spatial‐Temporal Analysis & Data Mining at University College London, 18‐19 July 2011

Michael Batty, Martin Austwick, and Ollie O’Brien

“In many human systems, the size-distribution of the objects or events that define them reveals very few large objects and many small ones. Particularly in systems such as cities and firms, where to be large, you must once have been small, competition tends to make it increasingly unlikely that an object continually gets bigger with most objects never growing out of what has been called the ‘long tail’. These characteristics of scaling systems are often measured by power laws, the most popular of which is known as the rank size rule after Zipf. Populations of cities, revenues in firms, and incomes of individuals seem to follow such laws unerringly, with the form of the scaling remaining relatively stable from time period to time period. However when we examine how each individual object changes its size and rank at a micro level, there is considerable volatility with the half life of city sizes within the top 100 populations, for example, being something in the order of less than a century. To illustrate this volatility at the macro level in the face of strong stability at the macro, we have introduced the idea of the rank clock, where the rank of any city (or object) is plotted around the axes of a clock (where the 24 hour cycle is matched to the period over which the analysis takes place). Clocks for different system display remarkably different patterns and we thus suggest that a classification of different dynamics might be possible when we have enough comparable examples.

Rank Clocks of the Top 100 High Buildings

Rank Clocks of the Top 100 High Buildings in New York City (a) and the World (b) from 1909 until 2010

“In this talk, we will focus mainly on the visual analytics. The original analytics presents an animation of how systems change in terms of their rank and we begin by illustrating the general idea. As many of the spatial systems in which objects grow and decline in size and rank are spatial, we have linked the clock to related location maps of the objects and have ported the software to the web. This gives us much more power to examine individual cities in space and time but also lets us disseminate these ideas more effectively. We have also developed the rank clock as a kind of radar device where we have direct control over the speed and trajectories of the animation on the clock but we have also moved back to the idea of animating the rank-size space itself as well as more conventional animations of population change associated with sets of cities. One of the features of all these visualisation is that cities can be queried in the context of all others as they change in rank and size, thus providing a rich set of possibilities for the visual analysis of urban dynamics. In this talk we will illustrate these ideas using many examples: Cities in the US from 1790, recent metro areas in the US from the 1960s, skyscrapers in London, Japanese city populations, and UN data pertaining to GDP, literacy and such like.”

Publication of Comparison Information between Interpolated Appraised Land Prices and Transaction Land Prices

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Ryo Inoue, Wataru Nakanishi, Ayako Sugiura, Taku Nakano, and Shigeaki Yoneyama

“There is a growing awareness that the disclosure of in-depth land price data is significant with regard to establishing land markets with a high level of transparency and fairness in Japan. Now both the public notice of land prices, which essentially comprises values that are appraised by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and transaction prices, which have been open to the public since 2005, play a major role in land pricing in Japan.

Market conditions around the location

Market conditions around the location

“However, these datasets alone do not provide adequate information for all market participants because not only that both are limited in number but also particular situation to Japan: The appraised prices are always pointed out to be cheaper than actual transaction price in some degree, and the important information with transactions such as the precise point in space and time are not fully open to public for privacy protection. Furthermore, it is difficult to compare these two prices in a simple way, for the distribution of points is different from each other. In this paper, we propose the publication of the valuable land price information by interpolating appraised prices to every transaction point using the method kriging, comparing actual transaction prices with them and drawing a map which allows us understand the trend of the land price easily. Furthermore, we build the experimental WebGIS service with which anyone can easily search the interpolated appraised price of the land where they are interested, and also the land price history and market conditions around there.”