MU presents Web Intelligence at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-19)

At the most recent UN Climate Change Conference, the spotlight was on public access to information and international cooperation - MU's Professor Dr. Arno Scharl, head of the department of New Media Technology, was invited to discuss this topic. 

At the UN conference, he presented the state of the art developments in online cooperation platforms. Going beyond merely identifying and evaluating relevant information, such platforms can help create and implement customized recommendations for sustainable lifestyles. 

In the area of global climate change, the UN Climate Change Conference is the joint representative body for all United Nations member states. Dr. Scharl attended its annual assembly in Warsaw, Poland, where the topic of social media was high on the agenda. The Connect4Climate (C4C) campaign is a prime example of the issues under discussion. C4C aims to use social media to exchange information about environmental issues on a global scale, so that the information can then be used to initiate and support local movements to address climate change. Dr. Scharl ranks as one of the world´s leading experts on the subject, continuously improving a portfolio of Web intelligence tools originally developed to analyze the online climate debate during the 2008 US presidential election.


In Warsaw, he focused specifically on a new EU research project that has already attracted considerable attention. The aim of the project is to (inter)actively inspire people to adopt sustainable lifestyles.

Dr. Scharl explains: "Within the DecarboNet project, online competitions emphasize the community aspect and engage citizens to discuss and pursue energy saving strategies. We then measure changes both in awareness and in actual behavior triggered by these strategies. Information obtained through this interaction provides decision makers with a framework for achieving carbon reduction goals more efficiently."

This innovative method of communicating climate-related information is of particular interest to one of the initiators of C4C - the World Bank, which issued the invitation to Dr. Scharl to share his expertise at the conference in Warsaw.

He talked about his extensive experience in collecting, analyzing and applying climate knowledge from various online sources within the framework of an international workshop, entitled "Be The Movement". 

The workshop dealt with the strategies needed to strengthen the global movement to combat climate change. This will require better cooperation between public, private and academic networks, as well as the identification of important reference points to change public attitudes.

Environmental experts at the conference focused on the problems associated with the communication of climate science. An international team working with Dr. Scharl has already made exceptional progress on this complex issue: since 2005 they have been hosting and evolving a publicly available web platform known as Media Watch on Climate Change. This award-winning portal supports policy makers by providing climate knowledge. It does this by analyzing millions of documents, media reports, postings on blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, as well as company and NGO websites.

Great interest has been expressed in a new web editor developed by Dr. Scharl´s team. The web editor presented in Warsaw opens up exciting new opportunities for climate communication and collaboration. It facilitates the automatic provision of the latest climate-related information from worldwide news sources, social media, and environmental NGOs. The editor targets decision makers in business and politics for elaborating new climate strategies. It works in real time, establishing a unique connection between policy makers and the thoughts, ideas and concerns of millions of citizens.

Additional information:

•Department of New Media Technology at MODUL University Vienna |

•Media Watch on Climate Change |

•DecarboNet Project |

IEEE Publication: Scharl, A., Hubmann-Haidvogel, A., Sabou, M., Weichselbraun, A. and Lang, H.-P. (2013). "From Web Intelligence to Knowledge Co-Creation - A Platform to Analyze and Support Stakeholder Communication", IEEE Internet Computing, 17(5): 21-29.