The India Environment Portal is initiated and managed by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) promoted by the National Knowledge Commission (NKC), Government of India.
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was established in 2005 by the Prime Minister of India as a high-level advisory body with the objective of transforming India into a vibrant knowledge-based society. As part of its mandate, NKC has actively supported the creation of ‘knowledge portals' that aggregate and present useful data, information and research across key sectors.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is an independent, public interest organization, which uses knowledge for activism. The Centre was started in 1980, by India's top environmentalist, Anil Agarwal and continues to work to push, prod and argue for environmental management in the country. It believes it can and must make a difference.
Why the India Environment Portal
Age of environment
This is the age of environment. And to make a difference, in our lifestyle, in policy and in practice we need information, which is accessible, well categorized and easy to use. The India Environment Portal is our effort to put together a one-stop shop of all that you want to know about environment and development issues. Its politics is overt: to build open, networked and informed societies, who can use knowledge to make change. But to make the change, we also have to be the change. It is for this reason, the India Environment Portal is built on an open-source platform; proprietary information held by CSE has been made available and open; and government documents are carefully sourced and put out for public scrutiny. But this is only the beginning. We will link to government institutions; look for researchers and institutions, working in environment and most importantly collate information that we can use in our daily lives.
We know that huge amounts of information on environment is available, brought out by research institutions, government bodies, NGOs, universities, the mass media, and experts, among others. But much of work is scattered, disaggregated and often difficult to access. The green directory in the portal identifies key institutions working in the field of environment and serves as a gateway to such institutions by linking to their websites. We also hope that many of these institutions will become be nodes of the portal – joint collaborators and partners – so that their issues are also highlighted and disseminated.
Networking for change
This is a people's portal. It will actively collate and exchange data, research and information from people working in the field, in campaigns, in scientific institutions, in research and in industry.
Tagging for quick access
The key strength of the India Environment Portal is its use of a unique and built thesaurus of environmental and geographic terms. Each topic is classified and sub-classified. All information in the portal is manually tagged with a comprehensive thesaurus of environmental terms. The online thesaurus – topic tree -- makes the search for resources more accurate, relevant and contextual. The keywords, a relational database of environmental subjects, geographical location and names of the agents involved (government institutions, NGOs, industries, individuals..) allows users to track each resource not just by the subject but where it is located and who is the agent involved.
We all look not just for pieces of information but overviews on the critical issues as well as updated information on latest developments, policies and resources. Together with news and events, the portal will feature an indepth section, with backgrounders, analysis and other resource materials on specific subjects, such as climate change, mining, forests, water management, environmental impact assessments, among others.
In the first phase of the portal the massive resources of the Centre for Science and Environment have been made public. It includes the entire archive of the fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth – roughly 40,000 researched articles. These in-depth articles were earlier available only to subscribers of the magazine. In the coming months, we will connect with more institutions and network and link to information from other sources.
The portal includes the material sourced and classified by the environmental resource centre of CSE – newspaper articles, features, magazine articles, books and documents – on an ongoing basis. The CSE resource centre scans over 50 newspapers each day from across the country, in particular regional editions, to categorise information of relevance. The resource centre also scans over 1000 journals, e-documents and books to locate relevant information. Each day over 400 new accessions are done, adding to the resources on a timely basis, essential for policy makers and other analysts. Currently, the portal includes 300,000 such documents.
Centre for Science and Environment has invested in the development on an open source platform, which will now allow the information to be available on the web portal, updated each day.
Open source platform
The India Environment Portal has been developed using Drupal, an open source content management system that allows users to easily publish, manage and organize their content. Drupal's architecture also easily integrates a complex vocabulary of cross-indexed tags to serve up relevant content. A notable feature of the India Environment Portal is the integration of the Apache Solr search platform, which gives users the ability to search across multiple classifications, in multiple ways – for example by content type (news, feature articles, opinions, reports and documents, books) author, publication source, and date.
The choice of an open source platform for the India Environment Portal reflects the strong belief that information must be widely accessible and freely shared among a vibrant community of information providers and seekers. Similarly, the modifications to the source code used to develop the portal will be publicly released to developer communities across the world, in keeping with the spirit of open and free access to high quality software and frameworks.
The portal has been developed by Srijan. Srijan is a technology consulting company, which specialises in implementing open source content management systems for managing portals, intranets, e-commerce applications, and corporate websites.
Sources of information
Some of this content is produced, owned or controlled by other organisations or institutions. In each case, the material has been identified and referenced to the source. Although we have clearly asked users to abide by the relevant copyright notices, in the event that the person or institution that has produced the content has reservations with respect to such content appearing in the portal, do let us know, and we will immediately remove such content from the portal.
Help us create
We look forward to ideas on how we can grow this portal – to make it inclusive, to make it comprehensive, diverse and most importantly to make it useful – so that knowledge can be used for change. We are very keen for many others to continue to push this initiative along, as content collaborators, active users, or even as citizen reporters. Do share your ideas and suggestions with us.
Centre for Science and Environment 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi-110062, INDIA Tel: +91 (011) 29955124, 29955125, 29956394, 29956401, 29956399; Fax: +91 (011) 29955879 E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.cseindia.org