Recent history and development of environmental information systems and databases in Germany

Date01 February 2003
Published date01 February 2003
AuthorBernd Page,Kristina Voigt
Recent history and
development of
information systems and
databases in Germany
Bernd Page and
Kristina Voigt
The protection of the environment has always
been a great concern of the German
population and government. Given the great
importance of the subject, several activities
were undertaken to support the protection of
the environment with environmental
information systems and databases.
This paper will focus on three main
activities of the following institutions and
(1) German Environmental Protection
Agency (UBA);
(2) Computer Science in Environmental
Protection Technical Committee of the
German Society of Computer Science;
(3) Information System for Environmental
Chemicals established at the GSF
National Research Center for
Environment and Health, funded by the
Bavarian State Ministry for State
Development and Environmental Affairs,
Munich, Germany.
The environmental databases and
information systems are also examined in
terms of both content and information
History and development of
environmental information system
technology in Germany
In the early 1980s computer applications in
the German state agencies of environmental
protection moved to a higher level. One of the
main initiators of information system
technology in the environmental area has
been the German Federal Environment
Protection Agency (UBA) in Berlin, which
was established as the central environmental
agency in the 1970s. Interestingly enough, the
operation of an environmental information
system was one of the main tasks of the newly
founded UBA defined by the foundation law
for the agency from the very beginning. This
was an innovative step, because at that time
environmental computer applications were
mainly run in research institutions, but rarely
in public offices (except for some automated
monitoring systems for water and air
pollution), or in industry. However, it was
The authors
Bernd Page is a Professor in the Department of
Computer Science, University of Hamburg, Germany.
Kristina Voigt is Senior Scientist at the GSF National
Research Centre for Environment and Health, Institute of
Biomathematics and Biometry, Neuherberg, Germany.
Environmental impact assessment, Environmental scanning,
Environmental risk assessment, Germany,
Data envelopment, Analysis
The topic of environmental protection has always been of
great concern in Germany, the establishment of
environmental data sources started in the 1970s. The
development of environmental information system
technology in Germany is outlined and two examples are
given: the Environmental Planning and Information System
(UMPLIS) and the Integrated Public Environmental
Information System (UIS) Baden-Wuerttemberg. Relevant
German environmental data sources are discussed, such as
Environmental Literature Database (ULIDAT), Environmental
Research Projects Database (UFORDAT), and Environmental
Law Databases (URDB), as well as the chemical databases
which comprise environmental information ± the BEILSTEIN
database and the Landolt-Boernstein database. The
Information System for Environmental Chemicals with its
four metadatabases ± Metadatabase of Literature on
Environmental Chemicals (DALI), Metadatabase of Online
Databases for Environmental Chemicals (DADB),
Metadatabase of CD-ROMs for Environmental Chemicals
(DACD), and the Metadatabase of Internet Resources (DAIN).
Electronic access
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is
available at
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is
available at
Refereed article received 18 July 2002
Approved for publication 8 October 2002
Online Information Review
Volume 27 .Number 1 .2003 .pp. 37-50
#MCB UP Limited .ISSN 1468-4527
DOI 10.1108/14684520310462554

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