Environment Telematics - An Overview of the European Union RTD&D Initiative

Wolfgang Boch, Commission of the European Communities, Brussels

Home | Index Page | Previous | Next


The Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998) for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (RTD&D) of the European Union, addresses in the specific Programme on "Telematics Applications of Common Interest" a total of twelve application sectors (e.g. transport, health care, education and training), and among them a new sector, concerning the Environment.

Telematics deals with the application of information and communication technologies and services. Programme goals are: to promote the competitiveness of European Industry, to help improve the efficiency of services of public interest, and to stimulate job creation through the development of innovative telematics systems and services. The Telematics Applications Programme was granted a total budget of some 900 MECU.

The new action on the Environment in the exploratory phase, aims to investigate and demonstrate the potential of multi-media telematics solutions for protecting and improving the environment, and to support corresponding EU policies. The budget allocated to the Environment sector is 20 MECU.

Medium and long-term goals of the action are to contribute to the development of a competitive European market for telematics applications and services in the field of environmental management, and to improve the quality of life for European citizens through increased levels of protection, lowered impact of catastrophes, and better prevention and reduction of pollution.

Scope of actions

Environment Telematics concentrates on automatic warning systems and integrated monitoring of pollution levels in the atmosphere, rivers or sea. Applications and services are under development for various domains, such as urban areas, industrial plants, coastal areas or river basins. Research and demonstration activities address, in particular, the development of environmental management tools; also systems for improved decision making, through the interconnection and improved accessibility of environmental information networks and data bases. The prototypes are mostly based on existing information and telecommunication technologies.

The first call of proposals for Telematics Applications for the Environment was launched in December 1994 and closed in March 15, 1995. As a result, 18 projects have been retained and were adopted in the Commission Decision of 26 July 1995. Out of those, twelve projects will perform pilot demonstrations in numerous cities and regions across the Union. Table 1 indicates the cities and regions involved and their main applications. The projects started their work in January 1996 and will be completed in the course of 1998.

Environmental managers from public authorities from more than 25 European Regions and 20 European Cities are involved in the projects in the form of public-private partnerships/co-operations. The aim is to ensure an efficient implementation of the 'user-driven-approach', which has been stipulated as one of key objectives of the Telematics Applications Programme.

The pilot demonstration projects address amongst other things integrated air quality control, water quality monitoring, public environmental information services, catalogue of data sources, eco-auditing, and management of natural disasters, such as forest fires, floods and earthquakes. The applications are based on existing tools and technologies like, Geographical Information Systems, Data Base Management Systems, Multi-media Graphical Interfaces, Client Server Systems, Remote Sensing, Satellite Communication, ISDN, World Wide Web/Internet, etc.

The applications areas addressed can be roughly grouped into two domains: a) environmental monitoring, information and control systems for the purpose of improved reporting, planning, forecasting, and decision making; and b) global emergency management systems to improve prevention, risk assessment, risk analysis and crisis management for time-critical events, in the case of man-made and natural disasters. Furthermore, the development of European environment information services and applications are supported, in order to help implement the objectives of the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Centre of Earth Observation (CEO).

Examples of projects addressing environmental information to the broad public

The ENVIROCITY project is based on an existing geographical information system, data base query technologies and the Internet-WWW. Work includes the standardisation of meta data and improving access by any "international user" to existing data, meta data and information sources directed at planning, reporting and citizens' decision making. The information sources will encompass environmental media, such as air, climate, soil, surface & ground water, but also socio-economic environment data and biotic (fauna & flora) information.

The project TEMSIS will inform citizens on the day-to-day changes on air quality and the quality of drinking water in their local environment. Environmental information will be disseminated in public places such as city halls, or to private homes via access the Internet. Furthermore, local authorities will use these systems to inform the general public living in their communes about potential environmental impacts of new planned industrial developments or on the impacts when enhancing or changing the transport infrastructure. Projects like TEMSIS and ENVIROCITY not only focus on improving the accessibility to environmental information (e.g. through inter-active info-kiosks), but also allow citizens to forward specific requests to their relevant administrations and authorities. Multi-media telematics systems will be implemented also to support the requirements of other users such as city planners, local environmental experts or traffic control experts.

The project E.M.M.A focuses on setting up an environmental monitoring and forecasting, information and warning system in metropolitan areas, with special emphasis on urban pollution control, particularly on forecasting pollution levels for a 24 and 48 hour time horizon, and on providing information to the general public. Consistent with the proposed directive of the European Commission on Ambient Air Quality Assessment (94/0106), the project will put high attention on the development to 'Global Air Quality Indicators'. A user reference group with representatives of local, regional and national Environment Agencies, transport and health organisations has been set up to establish recommendations for 'Global Air Quality Indicators', and to foster the harmonisation between National and European approaches. The demonstrators under development will monitor, analyse and distribute environmental data and information in various user-friendly ways, utilising e.g. geographical information systems, and information networks, such as Internet or Local Area Networks.


Around Europe there is a growing awareness of the need better to control and manage the environment. The objective of 'sustainable development' requires the steady and continual growth and competitiveness of European products and services and the parallel improvement of the environmental quality of our industries, cities and regions.

Through the exploitation of advanced telematics (information and telecommunication) technologies & applications and the opportunities offered by the rapid development of a modern Information Society, pilot projects initiated under the Telematics Applications Programme will offer better services for citizens, environmental managers and decision makers. In their most effective form, environmental information services will give European citizens information that allows them personally to participate in environmental protection.

Applications exploiting the Internet facilities - for Environmental Communication to the public and between administrations- form an essential part in many of the Environment Telematics projects.

Further details and information on the projects implemented in the sector of Telematics Applications for the environment can be obtained from the following Internet Web address: http://www.echo.lu/telematics.

Note: Any views or opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily comply with those of the European Commission.


Cities & Regions
Main applications
Testing Telematics for Environmental Emergency Management
Attica (GR), Jucar Basin (ES)
Environmental Emergency Management including industrial risks and floods
Contaminated Land Sites Management using Telematics
Amsterdam (NL), Bologna (IT), Cork (IE), Katowice (PL), Köln (DE)
Environmental Management Support for Contaminated Sites
Telematics for Fighting Environmental Disasters
Alpes-Maritimes (FR), Andalucia (ES), Crete (GR), Hessen (DE)
Environmental Emergency Management & Control, including forest fires, floods, industrial accidents
Telematics-based Regional Environmental Planning
Corfu (GR), Fife (GB), Rhone-Alpes (FR), Toscana (IT)
Regional Environmental Information including soil, waste, water
Air Quality Monitoring and Alert in European Cities
Genova (IT), Leicestershire (GB), Madrid (ES), Stockholm (SE)
Air Quality Monitoring and Warning System
Urban Pollution Control Management
Athens (GR), Berlin (DE), Gdansk (PL)
Environmental Management Support for urban areas, including air and water quality
Environmental Forecasting for Enhanced Traffic Control
Göteborg (SE), Kent (GB), Leicestershire (GB), Volos (GR), Maidstone (GB)
Air Quality Management combined with traffic control measures
European City Environmental Information Service
Antwerpen (BE), Lamia (GR), München (DE), Piraeus (GR), Vitoria (ES)
Public Environmental Information Services, including air, water, soil etc.
Oil Pollution Alert and Monitoring
Aegean (GR), Andalucia (ES), Cyclades (GR), Galicia (ES)
Environmental Emergency Management for oil spills, forest fires and floods
Table 1: Telematics Applications for Environment Projects launched in 1996, cities and regions involved and main applications


Cities & Regions
Main applications
Integrated Telematics for Environmental Data Delivery
Groningen (NL), Madrid (ES), Utrecht (NL)
Environmental Information System -for Administrations, supporting eco-auditing
Rapid Earthquake Damage Estimate Tool
Chania (GR), Crete (GR), Lisboa (PT), Roma (IT)
Post disaster assessment using satellite imagery
Telematics in Regional Environmental Management
Alessandria (IT), Athens (GR), Piemonte (IT), Torino (IT), Vlaams Gewest (BE), Zeeland (NL)
Regional Environmental Management incl. development of meta data model
Environmental Management Support System
Galicia (ES), Noord-Brabant (NL), Sollentuna (SE)
Environmental Management Support for industrial areas, including air, water, waste, energy
Telematics for Land use Planning
Scotland (GB), Valencia (ES)
Tools for long-term land-use planning for crafters, farmers and foresting
Transnational Environmental Management Information System
Saarbrücken (DE), Sarreguemines (FR)
Transnational Environmental Mnagament and Information Systsme, including air, water, land-use
Telematics for Water Quality Monitoring
Barcelona (ES), Hauts-de-Seine (FR)
Environmental Management Support for water quality monitoring and control
Telematics for SME Environmental Management
25 SME's in 4 EU countries (DE, FR, GR, ES)
Telecouncelling and tele-training for environmental management of SME's in plastics industry
Table 1 (contd.): Telematics Applications for Environment Projects launched in 1996, cities and regions involved and main applications

Home | Index Page | Previous | Next