Source: / Hewitt / Getty

The growing desire for transparency, on a global scale, reflects a demand for accessible information undercutting the asymmetric flows of today. Whether this be the whereabouts of dangerous exiled war mongers, or the discussions between the public and the policy makers, humanity now has the technological capabilities to achieve greater openness and accountability – Wikileaks taught us that.

A new mapping product, created by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA) (alongside the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES)) is another example of why transparency is so vital. With many options to apply (“the register contains annual data reported by some 28,000 industrial facilities covering 65 economic activities within 9 industrial sectors” such as energy, chemical industry, waste and waste water management, and aquaculture [source]) the user can pinpoint pollution hotspots across the continent.

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register‘ is the mapping software first rolled out in 2009, and the new maps that have been added offer a novel and interactive way in which to conceptualize pollutants:

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “These maps give Europeans important information about the sources of air pollution. It shows a genuine commitment to share information with citizens and increase their understanding of where pollution in their neighbourhood is coming from.” [via EEA]

PM10 emissions from road transport in Paris. // Source:

It is only natural that pollution will centralize in cities due to the aggregation of higher density housing emissions, roadway congestion levels and general commercial activity. The new maps offer an insight into the competitive advantage of different European cities with regard to their air quality, especially on a local and neighbourhood level.

They also show the extent to which NOx and PM10 emissions from road transport occur in large urban areas and along the main road networks. In cities road transport in particular contributes significantly to the levels of PM10 in the air. [source]

This could have profound ramifications on real estate prices too; surveyors now have a tangible means to compute environmental deprivation and instill that into housing prices. Especially considering that environmental valuations (in the property markets) are becoming ever more attractive to investors.

Take a look at the map tools for yourself: here. If you were to choose the next step into global transparency, what would it be?

NOx emissions from road transport. // Source: