Israeli IT firm Taldor has launched a computerized geographic information system (GIS) to map treatment of environmental hazards, as part of Friends of the Earth Middle East’s “Protecting Groundwater” project.

Friends of the Earth, an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian NGO that focuses on environmental collaborations among the three parties, first launched the project in November 2011, to monitor and minimize risks as well as increase municipal awareness in areas throughout the Mediterranean Basin. In addition to focusing on communities in the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian Authority and various other places in Israel and Jordan, the project also teams up with the southern city of Malaga, Spain, where discharges of industrial wastewater have become highly problematic.

The project receives funding from the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) of the European Union’s European Commission.

The brand new mapping system will initially be used in nine local and regional authorities in Israel – Jordan Valley Regional Council, the Carmel-Sharon Association of Towns, Beit She’an, Gilboa, Emek Hefer Regional Council, Baka-Jatt, Mate Yehuda Regional Council, Sorek Environmental Unit and Tamar Regional Council.

While ENPI is funding the project, divisions of the Water Authority and the Environmental Protection Ministry are also collaborating in the program, according to Taldor.

Friends of the Earth and Taldor have been working on the technology for about five months, and now that it is complete, municipality project coordinators and volunteers will have real-time access to their maps and the locations deemed hazardous, said Youval Arbel, Friends of the Earth Israeli deputy director and manager of the Protecting Groundwater project, to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Taldor created the GIS management system for mapping and computing the geographical features of the areas involved, employing cloud technology in order to give all of the regional authorities involved the possibility of receiving support from one and other, the company said. Meanwhile, a firm called Ecolog Engineering added a layer to the system that is able to assess groundwater vulnerability based on several different parameters in each location, according to Arbel.

Before the individual hazards go completely public on the maps, the municipality coordinator will have a chance to review the specified location, and mark it as a “red” untreated site, as a “yellow” site already undergoing remediation, or as a “green” site, for cases in which the problems have already been eliminated, Arbel explained.

“In a few months we hope will be able to put up a lot of green and yellow colors,” he said.

Protecting Groundwater project participants in the Palestinian Authority and in Jordan are also using a similar type of GIS technology, but without the web interface, while Malaga, Spain, will soon be employing a GIS web interface product similar to that of Taldor, according to Arbel.

Natan Friedchai, vice president of the Taldor systems group, stressed the importance his company attaches to working as the technological partner on this project, which he said “promotes public environmental interests first and foremost.”

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