Keep your Eye On Earth

EyeOnEarthLogoBW[3]_2[1]Last November saw the release to web of the project I led for the 8 months previous. Eye  On Earth is a portal to the masses of environmental data that the European Environment Agency collect. Initially launched in 2008 as ‘Water Watch’ our team have re-designed and re-architected the system to allow extensibility to other environmental factors.  For this current release we include the original data from ‘Water Watch’, with some interesting new data visualisations, plus a whole new dataset under the heading ‘Air Watch’.

This post serves as an overview of the project and an introduction to some of the topics I’m going to talk about over the coming weeks, concerning how we conducted the engagement from a process and team management point of view.

A snapshot of north western Europe showing water and air station locations with user rating values.

Why Watch?

The premise behind Eye On Earth is one of awareness and accountability. The European Environment Agency has an obligation to share the data they collect with the citizens they represent. Mostly that takes the form of tabulated data in XML, CSV or other formats. Whilst this is of great use to those who have the tools, knowledge, and inclination, the datasets are not something easily accessible to the general public. Eye on Earth aims to change that.

By combining high level visual clustering techniques and false colour heat maps with in-depth drill downs and point location queries this vast array of data is made much simpler to access and understand. Combined with the ability to feedback personal observations of water and air quality, see the feedback of others, and share that feedback with the world via your Facebook, Twitter or Windows Live Spaces feeds, Eye On Earth forms the beginnings of the Global Observatory Initiative that the European Environment Agency hold as their long term objective.

Process and Management

Over the next few weeks I’m going to post some insights into the project, how we ran it, what went well and what didn’t.  The topics I’ll be looking at will be (in no particular order)

  • Challenges

  • Stakeholder management

  • Team management over different time zones

  • Team dynamics

  • Extreme Retrospectives

  • Metrics

  • User Centric Design and Development

  • Tools Integration

Obviously it’s important to note that teams work in many different ways, these are just some of the things that worked well (and not so well) with the Eye on Earth project. Hopefully you’ll find these distilled nuggets of information useful to you!




Written by Simon Middlemiss

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