EPA upgrades to Web 2.0

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a redesigned Web site today that features Web 2.0 tools. EPA officials said they made the new site more interactive and task-oriented to fulfill the needs of the public and federal, state and local agencies.

The new site features a blog, social bookmarking tools, Really Simple Syndication feeds, videos and podcasts about EPA activities. The site also includes links to information about protecting the environment and improving energy efficiency, recycling and pollution prevention.

The site is designed for sophisticated and casual users, who can now receive information by subscribing to e-mail lists or RSS feeds, said Molly O'Neill, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Environmental Information and chief information officer. The agency also added widgets ' applications that users can download to their computers or post on their Web sites ' to keep up-to-date on EPA activities. EPA has four widgets: Environmental Tip of the Day, Question of the Week, Find Your Watershed and Earth Day Countdown.

Last year, the agency began uploading podcasts and videos. The videos feature discussions of environmental topics; this month's video covers how to prepare for emergencies. The agency has also made certain areas more interactive, including how to comment on regulations, and those features might become even more interactive over time, O'Neill said.

'Because we support Web 2.0, we could be interacting with the public on regulations using new technology [such as] blogs and wikis,' she said. The agency uses wikis internally and has external ones available for specific areas, she added.

O'Neill sees the Web site and EPA as elements of a more interactive government. 'It's a matter of expanding services from the technology perspective,' she said. 'It could be more wikis or more widgets. We have the architecture to expand our interactive services.'

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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