Environmental Atlas of Europe Launches to Tell the Story of Climate Change

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, and REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 14, 2009 — As part of its initiative to use technology to improve access to timely, accurate and relevant environmental data, Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of the Environmental Atlas of Europe (Atlas), the latest project resulting from its partnership with the European Environment Agency (EEA). Atlas, an online portal, uses the intuitive interface of Bing Maps to allow people to view stories about the impact of climate change across Europe.

Atlas, launched by EEA during the COP 15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, is another demonstration of the power of technology to help inform citizens and policy advisers on the debate around climate change. It is a continuation of Microsoft’s partnership with EEA and the development of the Eye on Earth portal that reports on air and water quality across Europe.

Atlas will initially offer stories from nine places — Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Lapland, Netherlands, Poland and Russia — illustrating how climate change is affecting these areas and how certain projects are mitigating these effects.

“Responding effectively to climate change demands not just effective policies but also widespread commitment to make a difference. We need more people to understand what is at stake and then act,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of EEA. “The Eye on Earth platform has already made environmental information more accessible, allowing people to grasp what is happening to the environment in their neighborhoods and across Europe. Atlas now takes this one step further by allowing people to share their stories of climate change’s impacts and their responses, broadening understanding and inspiring others to act.”

The stories, which are accessed by simply clicking on the icons displayed in Bing Maps, are indexed using Microsoft SQL Azure according to the specific location that they relate to. The overall solution is delivered using Windows Azure, which ensures that the service is consistent, regardless of the amount of content being uploaded or the fluctuations in visitor numbers.

“As the world’s leading software company, we believe technology will play a vital role against tough issues facing the world like climate change,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. “With the help of our Bing Maps visualization technology, Atlas enables people to connect to the issue by visualizing the changes occurring to our world today and provides another tangible example of how technology can contribute.”

Atlas is one of a number of solutions that Microsoft has showcased to delegates at COP 15 to demonstrate the power of technology to inform the debate about climate change:

  • MapMyClimate. A new Web site that allows people to understand the impact of their consumer habits on the environment

  • Project2Degrees. A partnership with the Clinton Foundation that allows city authorities to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • FIAT Ecodrive. A dashboard tool that helps drivers improve their fuel efficiency

  • Research4Life. A service developed with the United Nations to allow greater access to scientific journals and research

In addition to this, Microsoft has spoken at a number of events throughout the course of COP 15. These include the climate consortium event alongside the European Environment Agency, the World Wildlife Fund and members of the European Parliament, and the Green IT Panel debate, where Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, presented on Global Strategies for Green IT alongside peers from across the technology industry.

More information about the Environmental Atlas of Europe is available at http://www.environmentalatlas.net.

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 Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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