European Environment Agency (EEA) executive director Jacqueline McGlade, PhD, gave a keynote presentation at the 2011 Esri International User Conference (Esri UC) in San Diego, California. She described different ways that EEA works to collect data, ensure its quality, and engage citizens in becoming part of the solution. … “EEA wants to get people engaged in the environment,” explained McGlade. “By considering citizen and cultural knowledge, along with Western science, people can contribute in professional, semiprofessional, and amateur ways. Citizen reporting brings people into the mainstream of the environment. Europe’s Shared Environment Information System forces countries to see that they need a system of care. EEA supports via IT, applications, technology, and software, as well as training the population [to become] a large group of people who know what is going on around them. Programs like Earthwatch can take ordinary people into the field and train them to gather data and bring it back in a structured way.” To democratize information, EEA has worked with Microsoft and Esri to create the Eye on Earth platform. This is cloud technology that facilitates interaction. It includes the official data mandated by countries and allows citizens to say what they think. Crowdsourcing is an effective way of validating authoritative data from countries. With enough observations, it is easy to see when stations are not monitoring correctly.
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