New virtual map includes up-to-date air and water quality readings

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Microsoft is capitalizing on the current buzz surrounding environmental topics and climate change to promote their Bing Maps and Virtual Earth services as a viable alternative to Google Maps and its more powerful sibling Google Earth, with the introduction of a special environmental data feed that integrates with it in real-time.

Eye on Earth is a joint project between Microsoft and the European Environment Agency which uses data from the EEA and overlays it on map images from Bing to provide users with up-to-date information on air and water quality across the EEA's 32 member countries.

The aim is to make environmental information more accessible to ordinary people, so that ordinary people can see how air and water pollution affects places that they live and care about.

Eye on Earth has been up and running since May 2008 at which time it included a water quality monitoring application. In November, air quality data was added and now the Executive Director of the EEA is at the UN's COP15 climate change summit in Copenhagen to bring the service to a wider audience.

Big business has long been vilified as a perpetrator of environmental evils in the pursuit of profits, but recent thinking has been changing, and corporate co-operation is now seen as vital in tackling climate change and the impact of modern consumer lifestyles.

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, has been investing in green technologies for a number of years and in March 2009 ranked number 2 in the Times of London's list of the world's richest eco-pioneers due to his interest in renewable fuels.

Eye on Earth: