2020 Shortlist

Green Data – Establishment and Application of China Environmental Database

Category: Open data

Country/area: China

Organisation: Guangzhou Green Data Environmental Service Center

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 1 Jan 2019

Credit: Chun Xiang, Lei Guo, Hailong Lu, Tianran Fu, Geng Wu, Xiaochen Wei, Xin Luo, Suiying Xian, Wenzhang Ding, Yuan Zhang, Rongjie Zhang, Longfei Zhuang, Shuying Qiu, Xin He, Jiajun Su, Guohua Huang, Zhikai Niu, Huateng Wang

Project description:

Green Data, an Environmental Protection NGO, has established the largest environmental open database in China. Most of the environmental data are already published in local governments’ websites, and we pushed them to publish if they didn’t. However, there are more than 3000 local governments in China. Green Data collects and standardizes the environmental data from different websites, and then publishs them in the website of our own. Therefore, all the environmental open data can be visited in one website. Besides of analyzing the data by ourselves, the database is totally open and free to all web visitors, medias and others.

Impact reached:

Several famous medies, such as Caixin, Southern Weekly, The Paper, cooperated with us to report environmental data news related to air, water and soil, and carry on deep investigations on environmental damage. Therefore, the public could know serious situation we were facing, and public opinion often push environmental problems to solve.

Besides, we have developed a regular data opening program by using API port. In 2019, 23 companies/orgarnizations were getting environmental data from us to develop different applications. Amap, the most popular map APP in China, developed an ‘Environmental Map’ by using our data. According to Amap’s statement, 0.7 billion users have viewed environmental data by entering ‘Environment Map’ from June 2018 to June 2019. Sogou Map, another popular map APP in China, developed a ‘PM2.5 Map’ by using our data. Through the coorperation with companies such as the two above, we solve the problem of how to spread environmental information to public.

Tianyancha and Qixinbao, two largest credit investigation companies in China, put environmental administrative punishments of companies getted from us into their database. This made many companies lose opportunities of financing or bidding a government’s project, which often requires a company not receiving administrative punishments in recent years. The environmental administrative punishments are always not heavy enough for companies. However, losing opportunities of financing or bidding hurts them much more, and they will surely seek for better environmental performance afterwards. In one case, a company even persuaded the local Environmental Protection Bureau to illegally overturn a punishment, in order to let us and credit investigation companies delete its punishment record. The punishment was finally retained after we reporting to higher administration.

The data was also provided to several local Procuratorates for supporting commonweal litigation, and to several governments for supporting their administrative information system.


Techniques/technologies used:

We built a website, where environmental data are shown in the map, and this makes the public easier to understand. The data was obtained mianly by IT technology, such as crawl. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest of this project is to firstly establish the database with enough finacial support. Green Data was founded in 2015, and we spent 3 years to establish the database. Thanks to the trust from our donators, we can operate smoothly in the first 3 years. 

It’s not easy to run a NGO in China. Regarding our mission to reduce industrial emmision, it’s much harder. Fortunately, we found a way to use environmental data to make changes. This is useful because we are in the era of Mobile Internet. The effects of data can be brought into full play. We think our experiences may be useful to other fields and areas.

What can others learn from this project?

It may be a solution to carry out environmental protection by using data and IT tech in other countries and aeras. We are willing to help other people/organizations/governments to establish their own environmental database, in order to prevent and control the environmental pollution, as well as mitigate the climate change. 

Besides, for small organizations, it’s better to focus on the field you are good at, and try to be the best. You can find win-win partners who are top players in their field. Then the cooperation will result in double results. Don’t try to do everything by yourself for small organizations.

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