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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googleclimate changeweb applicationsMicrosoftweather forecastingcloud computing

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?