EPA uses Web 2.0 to clean up the environment


Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency traveled to Lacey, Wash. Jan. 28 on two missions — to help clean up Puget Sound and demonstrate the tangible benefits of Web 2.0 tools.

EPA presented contributions that nonprofits, corporations and government agencies made to the “Puget Sound Information Challenge” wiki at a conference last November where participants were asked to contribute information that could help groups working to clean up Puget Sound.

In the two days that the Web page was up during the 2007 Environmental Information Symposium, the Web 2.0 application garnered more than 18,000 page views, 175 entries with everything from documents to decision support systems and a significant volume of e-mail. EPA also offered a phone number that people could call, but officials say they never got a phone call.

Molly O’Neill, EPA’s chief information officer, said the results got a favorable response from the Puget Sound Leadership Council, an organization that is trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to clean and restore the waterway.

EPA officials say that the willingness of people to contribute everything from documents to decision support systems illustrates the benefits of using mass-collaboration tools.

O’Neill said EPA had forwarded the results to the CIO Executive Council.

“Instead of a standard conference…it showed what could be done,” she said. “Rather than showing what could be possible, we wanted to do something more dynamic, we didn’t want to do something pretend.”

The Puget Sound Leadership Council is led by former EPA Administrator Bill Ruckelshaus.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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