Bing Maps goes Azure to show green atlas of Europe

15 Dec 2009

Microsoft has unveiled the Environmental Atlas of Europe – a collaboration between Bing Maps and the European Environment Agency – which highlights the impact of climate change.

At the high-powered environment conference in Copenhagen, Microsoft unveiled Atlas, which takes the form of an online portal that uses the Bing Maps interface to allow people to view stories about the impact of climate change across Europe.

Climate change conference

Atlas, launched by the European Environment Agency 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 the European Environment Agency and the development of the Eye On Earth portal that reports on air and water quality across Europe.

The Environmental Atlas of Europe will initially offer stories from nine places: Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, 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,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA.

“We need more people to understand what is at stake and then act. The Eye on Earth platform has already made environmental information more accessible, allowing people to grasp what is happening to the environment in their neighbourhoods and across Europe.

“The Environmental 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,” McGlade said.

Click of an icon

The stories, which are accessed by simply clicking onto the icons displayed in Bing Maps, are indexed using 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.

“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 visualisation technology, Atlas enables people to connect to the issue by visualising 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 around climate change. These include:

·        MapMyClimate – a new website that allows people to understand how their consumer habits impact on the environment.

·        Project2Degrees – a partnership with the Clinton Foundation which 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.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Atlas, an online portal using Bing Maps that allows people to view stories about the impact of climate change across Europe.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years