Jörg Schaller and Marc Bonazountas

ENVIROCITY - Public Online Environmental Information Services for European Cities

ENVIROCITY delivers environmental information to the urban public by means of telematics. The system is based on existing GIS and telematics technologies. The project delivers a user requirements analysis, a GIS application in the form of a pre-prototype. The demonstrator will be developed on air quality data for the City of Munich and will further be implemented by the cities of Antwerp, Victoria, Piraeus and Lamia.


Under the CEC Telematics Application Programme, Information Technologies DG XIII, ENVIROCITY delivers environmental information to the urban public by means of telematics. It aggregates and integrates different levels of heterogeneous environmental information into a synthetic picture, and delivers it to the public by two methods: queries from public PC-terminals, and projection onto large city information panels. The end product of this project will be a software pre-demonstrator, based on ArcView and existing telematics technology.

The system is based on existing Geographical Information System and database query technologies and the Internet-WWW. Information for input to the EnviroCity system is taken from existing municipal databases and other sources. Any European city can join as a user of the system.

The project delivers a users' requirements analysis, geographical information system software in pre-prototype form, and pilot verifications with cities databases (pre-demonstrator). The pre-prototype will be developed on air quality data and information from the city of Munich and will be further implemented using air quality data from the cities of Antwerp, Piraeus and Victoria. In addition, verification of an ecology-related application will be undertaken for the City of Lamia.

In the longer term, two types of users can be served: Environmental experts, and the general public. However, all types of user are considered in the User Requirements Analysis, which covers the categories of homes, industry, schools, universities, administrations, planners, commuters, and the European Environment Agency. It takes into account the air, land-soil, water, and ecosystems components of the city environment.

EnviroCity is a one-year project. Results will be disseminated to the EUROCITIES network, via Internet www.envirocity.com to interested persons, to schools and to workshops to be identified. The partners intend to form a network to commercialise the software and provide added-value services.


EnviroCity Developers:

EPSILON International S.A., GR

Esri GmbH, ILI, DE

Double You, DE

Esri-ES, ES

IMPETUS International S.A., BE


EnviroCity Pilot Users and Validation Sites:

City of Munich , DE

City of Antwerp, BE

City of Lamia, GR

City of Vitoria, ES


Prefecture of Piraeus, GR


The project will develop a Geographical Information System, based on ArcView, to access city databases for public information, a WWW home page and interconnection software, and software for access and queries. Operational protocols will be established based on standard technologies. A real product for intensive use by different user levels will be developed from the pre-demonstrator. The GIS and telematics software technology will be improved by using new tools such as SDE and MapObjects.


A major goal is to use a centralised database which is available for a variety of different users, city departments and to provide better information of environmental conditions to decision makers, public and external users via telematic technology.


Different users have different user requirements and queries to environmental databases. City administrations and agencies of the cities are data providers as well as data users. Regional users such as homes, schools, universities, planners or political parties and the public require more aggregated information.

Remote users such as European Agencies, other European Cities or interested public on the INTERNET will receive meta database information and sources for environmental data base access.


Most of the environmental data are spatially referenced. Therefore GIS plays a major role in the EnviroCity demonstrator. Typical data sources for EnviroCity are existing maps, GIS databases, pollution measurements, attributes and statistics, remote sensing data, and dynamic data such as traffic data, emissions etc.. Also documents, hypertext and images are typical sources. Most of the environmental measurement data is stored under standard SQL technology, also data of technical infrastructure, utilities, public transportation and services etc..


To create an information system for many different cities and types of databases the prototype solution has to be simple, pragmatic, stick to standards and also easy to maintain and to use. The prototype has to take into account that data preparation and pre-processing has to be combined with existing models (e.g. air quality), the existing communication server system and the telematic systems to transfer the data and to control access and distribution to the clients. Different types of clients user interfaces related to the type of access such as touch screen terminals, large display terminals, broadcasting and television, teletext and TV access systems or INTERNET access have to be realised.


Based on existing database query and GIS technology the measurement database can be combined with environmental pollution and distribution models as well as the application of GIS tools such as overlay technology or spatial distribution of pollutants.

With the usage of these technologies more questions on the quality of the applied database or methods arise. Therefore access to meta databases and expert information has also to be provided. Institutions or cities working with environmental modelling can provide their knowledge via ENVIROCITY to interested other data provides. Also universities or consultants are able to test their special applications of environmental modelling with ENVIROCITY databases from different European cities.


Different technologies are affecting EnviroCity applications:

Faster and cheaper computing, high resolution satellite imagery and fast image processing technologies, GPS and automated GIS data gathering, multimedia and fast communication networks.

To process and apply environmental information to the user a multitiered client/server architecture has to be applied with three levels of logic:

- A data logic and service logic for the EnviroCity server,

- An application logic for the application server,

- and last but not least a presentation logic for the end user ( Client)


On the EnviroCity server professional GIS software is installed such as UNIX ArcInfo, an INTERNET Server software and a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) software to switch between GIS and INTERNET data structures, as well as to access GIS and attribute data via INTERNET.

The environmental database is organised by a standard SQL database such as ORACLE combined with the special GIS database technology SDE (Spatial Database Engine) for extremely fast multi-user access and query of GIS and attribute information.


According to the user requirements analysis of the EnviroCity project three levels of typical users have been identified:

- Public Users (Low End Users)

- Sophisticated Users (Desktop Users)

- Data Providers (High End Users)

These users need different levels of GIS and database software such as professional GIS and DB software for the High-End Users, Desktop and PC solutions for desktop users and imbedded GIS and database functions for Low-End Users.

The EnviroCity client-server concept connects the user via standard telematics technology such as ISDN to the city's EnviroCity server.

The pre-prototype of the EnviroCity software developed with standard GIS programming tools ArcView and Avenue allows access to outside WWW users, PUBLIC KIOSKS and INFOSCREENS.

The server provides with his software tools the answers to the user requests and delivers the needed data formats to transfer the requested information via the network to the user.


The INTERNET strategy of EnviroCity allows multitiered access using a WEB server and a WEB browser. The WEB interface translates GIS data into map image files in HTML formats to put the query related GIS information on the INTERNET.

The analytical GIS software modules of ArcInfo produce the answers to user queries out of the SDE and ORACLE GIS information. The results are then translated and sent via the network to the end user.

Related to the status of user capability direct access can also be provided in form of an ArcView or MapObjects application. This means the systems architecture is really open for different user levels.


New GIS technologies are needed for the final implementation of the EnviroCity software.

Beside very fast query and multi-user GIS data access such as provided by SDE technology, a META DATA CATALOGUE software has to be installed to allow logical hand helpful user guidance and navigation through the data bases provided at the EnviroCity server.

Also new, simple and fast desktop GIS functionality has to be provided such as ArcView's spatial and network analysis. Embedded GIS solutions are necessary for low end - one way information applications - provided with MapObjects technology on INTERNET.


ArcView allows the desktop user to access and manipulate GIS data directly related to attribute information, images or hypertext.

GIS functionality is provided by raster and vector integration which is important for the display of maps and images.

Spatial analysis such as search, distance, distribution, overlay etc. is provided with the raster analysis tool as well as the display of the query results with a variety of display functions for maps, viewgraphs, tables, images etc.

The NETWORK ANALYST is very helpful for analysing spatial networks such as streets in combination with traffic data to calculate and display e.g. noise or car emission effects on the city's environment.

Water quality of rivers, water supply or sewer information can also be queried and displayed on linear features.


MapObjects is a new GIS programmers development tool which allows fast creation of fully embedded GIS applications for the end user. This object oriented technology is based on standard software development technology and therefore usable for a variety of standard hardware - and operation systems existing in the different cities.

MapObjects is a technology for end user applications and based on standard operation systems such as Windows 95, NT or OS/2.

End user applications can be developed under standard software developers tools such as Visual basic, Delphi, Visual C++, VBA and others.

This technology is selected for the EnviroCity prototype to program end user applications for Low-End applications at the PUBLIC KIOSK and for one way displays at the INFOSCREEN.


The EnviroCity pre-demonstrator delivers the necessary feedback information to develop integrated applications based on standard GIS and database products.

According to the identified user levels of EnviroCity three types of products have to be combined or developed:

High end products of the EnviroCity server:

- ArcInfo, SDE-DB, ArcView

- MetaData Catalogue

- Standard SQL Database

- Internet Server

- CGI Common Gateway Interface

- Cyberbox (Counting, Accounting)

Desktop users products - EnviroCity Viewer for the sophisticated user:

- ArcView

- Regional and local City database

- ArcView user interface (Avenue scripts)

- ODBC Download software for living data

- Internet browser (Netscape)

Low end user products on a CD which includes:

- Regional and local city GIS database

- ODBC Download software for living data

- Internet Browser

- Screenplay and touchscreen user interface

- MapObjects applications with imbedded GIS functions

Dr. Jörg Schaller
Esri GmbH
Ringstraße 7
D-85402 Kranzberg

Telephone: +49-8166-380
Fax: +49-8166-3838
email: j.schaller@Esri.isar.de

Prof. Marc Bonazountas
Epsilon International SA
Monemvasias 27
GR-15125 Marousi,

Telephone: +301-6800700
Fax: +301-6842420
email: epsilon@prometheus.hol.gr