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Untitled Document

Find Information on the Internet:
Environmental web sites and other resources

(published in the October/November 2001 Issue of Hazardous Materials Management Magazine)

A wealth of information is available on the Internet for the environmental professional. Accessing this information effectively is becoming increasingly important and will save you time, money, and provide you with peace of mind.

The Internet is an ideal medium by which to keep informed of emerging issues, and to access online tools, information and support for environmental management initiatives. The following information and resources are just a sample of what's currently available online:

• proposed, new, and amended environmental legislation;
• environmental news;
• emerging environmental technologies/research;
• environmental products and services;
• online tools (emissions trading web sites and environmental software applications);
• industry-specific issues and trends (e.g., manufacturing, chemical, etc.);
• industry news (e.g., executive appointments, tradeshows, seminars, networking events);
• environmental management and due diligence resources (e.g., ISO 14001, pollution prevention, energy efficiency, etc.);
• job openings and career development opportunities; and,
• environmental success stories and other corporate environment information that is useful to benchmark environmental performance against industry leaders.

For businesses and organizations, the Internet is also an effective and interactive means to advertise and market products and services, communicate with customers, conduct market and product analysis, track government tenders, locate and evaluate new suppliers and recruit new employees.

The treasure hunt

The Internet has grown enormously since it was first conceived in the 1960s and its benefits are almost limitless, including instantaneous access to information, unlimited research potential, and efficient communication (according to a February 2001 Harris Interactive Poll, using e-mail is the most common Internet activity).

The sheer size of the Internet, however, has become a problem in itself. Valuable time can be wasted attempting to sift through a flood of irrelevant information to find valuable information, almost as difficult as finding the proverbial treasure chest. Although directories and search engines are the most common tools used to find information on the Internet, other means of accessing information are becoming increasingly popular.

Web sites based on "communities of interest," or "vertical web sites," are being developed in response to user demand for fast access to specific and highly organized information. Dedicated to specific topics, including specific industries and professions, they are becoming increasingly popular web destinations for professionals. These web sites provide a single place for people sharing a common interest to communicate and quickly access the information relevant to them.

There are currently numerous vertical web sites related to the environmental industry. Most have a U.S. or international focus so be aware that any legislation-related materials would not apply in Canada. A few examples of U.S.-based web sites include:
• nammu.com for environmental health and safety professionals;
• pollutiononline.com for the pollution equipment and control industry; and,
• waterandwastewater.com for water treatment professionals.

Existing vertical web sites specifically for Canadian environmental professionals include ecolog.com and canadianenvironmental.com. They both include: environmental articles and information (from magazines, including hazmatmag.com and solidwastemag.com, and newsletters); current industry news; links to federal and provincial legislation and guidelines; chat rooms for environmental professionals to network and discuss various topics; product and service directories; and, environmental job postings.

Another initiative that is expected to make finding Canadian environmental information on the Internet easier is the Canadian Information System for the Environment (CISE). A Task Force established by federal Environment Minister David Anderson in October 2000 is currently examining the potential design and implementation of the CISE.

According to the Task Force's Interim Report, "the purpose of CISE is to ensure easy and timely access by decision-makers, citizens, communities, and the private sector to the reliable information they need to make environmental decisions."

Although CISE has tremendous promise in making environmental information more easily accessible, the downside is that, due to its huge scope and the number of stakeholders involved, it will likely take one or more years to implement. The Task Force's final report with its recommendations for the design and implementation of CISE is expected to be posted in late 2001.

Laura Griffin is co-founder and president of CanadianEnvironmental.com

Note: The CISE Final Report was released on October 23, 2001. The CISE website is located at:
http://www.ec.gc.ca/cise

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