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Where to holiday? Environment project offers beach data

Microsoft and the European Environment Agency (EEA) today announced the updated “Eye on Earth” environmental observatory project, which will now offer data on bathing water quality.

Eye on Earth is a two-way communication platform on the environment that connects relevant scientific information with the feedback and observations of millions of citizens across Europe. With summer right around the corner, the Eye on Earth Water Watch portal has been updated with 2009 data for beach and bathing water quality across the EU. The update also includes new features to improve user interaction and feedback including user ratings and comments, pictures and live Webcam streaming.

The beach and bathing water feature can help beachgoers across Europe decide where to take their summer vacation. The application displays the latest information on bathing water quality from more than 21,000 monitoring points across Europe. For some countries, including Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Scotland and Slovenia, the latest data is in fact from the current bathing season and could be the results of analyses sampled only days before.

Eye on Earth, first launched in 2008, allows users to search for a specific beach or zoom in on a given section of the coast or riverbank. The selected area or beach could be viewed both in street map or bird’s eye formats. A “traffic-light” evaluation (red, amber, green) of water quality based on scientific monitoring methods is complemented by similar ratings and comments reflecting the experiences of people who have visited the site.

Other new features include the ability to add pictures from beaches, further enhancing the comment function, and Webcam functionality for local authorities to link to their beach Webcam services.

“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.” said 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 which 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.”

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