Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) – European Environment Agency

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What is SEIS?

Story: In February 2008, the European Commission (EC) Communication “Towards a shared environmental information system (SEIS)” proposed a solution to the challenge of environmental information in Europe. Since then, SEIS has become a collaborative initiative of the EC with the EEA and the 39 countries of the Eionet (European network for information and observation of the environment). In fact, the implementation of SEIS has been at the center of our work since 2009 and still underpins the multi-year work program 2014-2018 and our daily work.

Goals: SEIS aims to create an improved environmental information system for Europe. It is a key driver for the growth of our knowledge base and it integrates a wealth of information from Eionet and other networks and partners, citizen science, crowdsourcing and new initiatives to collect environmental information. such as Copernicus. These goals are supported by a network of public information providers who share their environmental data and information. SEIS helps simplify, streamline and modernize their existing systems and processes, and make them web-compatible. It is a decentralized but integrated system that improves the quality, availability, accessibility and understanding of environmental information.

SEIS is also about a change in approach, from individual countries or regions reporting data to specific international organizations, to their creation of online systems with services that make the information available to multiple users – both individuals. and machines. Such a change occurs in stages, ensuring that SEIS remains a driving force for access to environmental information and its integration into the knowledge-based economy.

Seven SEIS principles: SEIS is based on seven “principles”. The information should be:

  1. Managed as close as possible to its source.
  2. Collected once and shared with others for many purposes.
  3. Easily available to easily meet reporting obligations.
  4. Easily accessible to all users.
  5. Accessible to allow comparisons at the appropriate geographic scale and citizen participation.
  6. Fully accessible to the general public and nationally in the relevant national language (s).
  7. Supported by common, free and open software standards.

A key cross-cutting objective of SEIS is to provide access to environmental information, and to maximize and extend its use. Information is often created to serve one purpose, but there is usually a lot of potential for other uses. Applying the SEIS principles makes this easier. For example, flood information, while necessary to mitigate the potential impacts of flooding, is also extremely valuable for insurance companies and homebuyers to assess property risks.

Technological opportunities: Obviously, SEIS must take advantage of and promote the development of modern information and communication technologies (ICT). ICTs increasingly facilitate the sharing of information, whether between individuals, closed groups or entire web communities. Examples of ICT include sensors, satellites, interactive map services, web services, and mobile applications.

ICTs are particularly useful for providing real-time data that can be used for immediate decisions – from national governments handling emergencies to citizens planning their day based on information about local weather or traffic conditions.

Reduced costs: A reduction in the administrative burden on public authorities and the associated cost savings through improved efficiency are additional benefits of SEIS. For example, automated electronic systems are beginning to replace much of the human resources now devoted to information exchange.

Three pillars: A functional SEIS should be structured around three pillars: content, infrastructure and cooperation. First, the system must identify the types of content (data) required, as well as potential sources. Second, there is a need for an efficient web technical infrastructure that takes full advantage of the most advanced ICTs, including web services (where machines communicate with each other without the need for costly or less efficient human intervention). Third, the structure of cooperation and governance is necessary to manage human resources, inputs and networking.

Many applications: The application of the seven principles and three pillars of SEIS is becoming increasingly relevant and necessary for any network based on information sharing, including the Eion and the EEA.

The EEA is modernizing its own information system on the basis of SEIS principles. The EEA provides linked data as part of a semantic data service, maintains interactive and collaborative map viewers, and generally promotes online and up-to-date information on the state of the environment through its website.

Other SEIS-related initiatives that are relevant today are:

Copernicus – implementation of monitoring services offering the potential of Earth observation data

INSPIRE – improve access and standardize environmental data for better integration

ENI – extending SEIS to the European neighborhood

GEO / GEOSS – building a global system of Earth observation systems

UN-GGIM – providing data and information for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

For more information on SEIS:


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