GEO: Sharing Resources at Global Level for Monitoring the Planet Earth

Monday, 17 February 2014
Columbus EF (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Kathy Sullivan , NOAA, Washington, DC
Each year, nations around the world make significant investments in Earth observations for civil use. Information produced with these observations informs decisions about the well-being of the citizens and the environment. The United States domestic policy on national civil Earth observations centers on the principle that the data acquired from these observing systems is a public good. It promotes open and timely sharing of civil Earth observations, making them freely available for use in a wide range of sectors, in order to promote economic growth based on the development of value added products and services through technological and scientific innovation.

The principles of open access, data sharing, and increased data accessibility are gaining traction among a growing number of nations. The collaboration on promoting these principles globally is coordinated through the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Formally established in 2005, GEO is a coalition of 90 willing governments and 67 participating organizations that aims to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to realize its vision of a “future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations and information”.

In reaching its vision, GEO takes a value-chain approach – from identifying observation requirements for specific end-user needs, obtaining and coordinating access to those observations, catalyzing end-user applications and delivering them to the intended users ready to be applied in end-use processes, and driving societal benefits across a multitude of disciplines. In its first 10 years, GEO has facilitated free and open access to over one million data sets that can be searched and discovered through an information system that connects to existing and developing data and information sources through a common use of metadata standards, protocols and interoperability arrangements. These interoperability and interconnectivity practices extend access to individual data collections beyond their originally intended user communities. Through establishing and expanding Communities of Practice, GEO bridges stakeholders from scientific, technological and policy-making communities to brainstorm, develop, prototype and launch solutions to shared challenges.