A national information center on the environment and nature protection is being established in Merseburg

Several signatures, handshakes, smiling faces. Today, representatives of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences laid the foundations for cooperation in the field of the environment and digitization by signing a cooperation agreement.

Environmental Information Center

To preserve our world and remain a place worth living, environmental protection and nature conservation are essential. Environmental information is fundamental here, because only if we understand our world can we act in a targeted manner and influence sustainable development. Collecting and processing this important information should be the task of the National Information Center for Environment and Nature Conservation.

Branch of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency based in Merseburg

The information gathered means that more informed decisions about environmental policy can be made. “At the same time, we promote the extensive use of data that can generate new ideas and visions for business models in the field of the environment, climate protection and resource conservation. We are delighted to have an important strategic partner in the region at the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, ”says Dr. Wolfgang Scheremet, head of the central department of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The center will be based in Merseburg as a new branch of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and will work closely with the university there.

The partnership was created for a reason. Thanks to the interdisciplinary research priorities “Sustainable Processes” and “Digital Change”, the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences addresses two major societal challenges precisely at the interface where the Federal Environmental Protection Agency also operates. In addition, the presence of UBA in a former lignite mining area in central Germany also promotes the awareness of the inhabitants of environmental and nature protection. The industrial region needs to rethink.

knowledge exchange

“As a university, we benefit from UBA know-how and can jointly use our strengths in teaching and research. Thanks to our knowledge in the disciplines of the environment, technology and chemistry, as well as in the field of information and cultural studies, we would like to support UBA in various issues and contribute to the mutual benefits of cooperation – emphasizes prof. dr hab. Markus Krabbes, Rector of the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences since April 2022.

Project data portal Mammoth environment.info

The main task of the National Information Center on the Environment and Nature Conservation is the development of the environment.info internet portal. The platform is to become an important access point to all Polish information on environmental issues. Data and information should be accessible to all citizens, science, research, education, business, industry and administration in a manner appropriate to the target group.

In concrete terms, this means that the portal not only provides a huge flood of metadata on all kinds of topics (meta data is master data, datasets that relate to other data), but also provides model data, research reports and examples of best practice. This requires a very intelligent search system that can also translate everyday language into technical language or vice versa. “If a user asks what the climate is in his garden, the system must be able to provide scientific information. So we need good AI tools that can also create semantic links, ‘says Prof. dr hab. Kora Kristof from the Federal Environment Agency.

Public prototype 2023, regular operation 2026

The first five employees started working in the center in autumn 2021. The team is expected to grow to 25 people. An internal prototype for the website already exists, and the public one is expected to be available early next year. But construction is a gigantic task and a continuous process. It is not planned to start operating regularly by 2026 and will of course be constantly optimized.

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