Microsoft, Google unveil climate change Web apps

The applications, timed to coincide with the Copenhagen negotiations, focus on mapping as well as computational analysis

Microsoft and Google have built Web applications designed to highlight environmental problems coinciding with the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen that run through Friday.

Microsoft is working with the European Environmental Agency (EEA) to use its Bing Maps, Silverlight multimedia technology and Azure cloud platform to show how climate change is affecting certain regions in Europe.

The Web site, called the Environmental Atlas of Europe, will inform people about climate-change stories and interesting projects, such as wine farmers in the Tuscany region of Italy who run a carbon-negative farm to a city in Denmark that uses 100 percent renewable energy, said Bert Jansen, technology lead for the EEA.

"It's strange that not everybody is aware of these kinds of initiatives," Jansen said. "I think it's important that good initiatives get the attention that they deserve."

Microsoft and the EEA also launched another Web site called Bend the Trend, where people can pick from up to 45 pledges for how they can reduce their impact on the environment. Pledges, which are marked on an interactive Bing map, include eating less meat, turning down thermostats and recycling all paper.

Both Web sites are essentially data visualization tools focused on environmental information, said Ludo De Bock, senior director for European Union and NATO relations for Microsoft. Jansen said that the EEA has a lot of data, such as noise pollution data, that could be overlaid onto the Web sites.

Google is also lending its cloud-computing power to help scientists keep closer tabs on deforestation. Over the next year or so, Google expects to release an online version of a tool that analyzes raw satellite imagery to compare deforestation over time. The tool will enable the creation of deforestation maps much faster than before.

The application is essentially an online version of those built by forest researchers Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Carlos Souza of Imazon, an Amazon rain forest research institute. Their applications are used across Latin America, but analysis had been hampered by a lack of access to satellite images and slow computational resources, according to a Google blog post.

The platform offers a much cheaper way for countries to measure deforestation since Google's data centers can serve up terabytes of satellite images and contribute a massive amount of computational power from its data centers.

"On a top-of-the-line desktop computer, it can take days or weeks to analyze deforestation over the Amazon," wrote Rebecca Moore, engineering manager, and Amy Luers, environment manager for Google.org, the company's philanthropic branch.

"Using our cloud-based computing power, we can reduce that time to seconds. Being able to detect illegal logging activities faster can help support local law enforcement and prevent further deforestation from happening."

Google said a prototype of the platform is available now to a limited number of partners, but it should be rolled out to the public over the next year.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cloud computingMicrosoftGoogleweb applicationsclimate changeweather forecasting

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?