25 – 26 October 2017, Washington, D.C.
Summary of the official meeting report written by Joan Masó Pau (CREAF)
The Group of Earth Observation (GEO) organizes an annual Plenary meeting where all member states and participant organizations meet, are informed of the progress towards GEO objectives, and future objectives are agreed. This year (2017), Washington DC hosted the GEO Plenary meeting from October 23rd to 27th, presenting an opportunity to organize side events to review the status of the 2017-2020 work program activities. Some aspects of the novel regional activity EuroGEOSS were discussed on the 23rd. EuroGEOSS will organize the European contributions to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), completing the map of the other regional activities such as AmeriGEOSS, AfriGEOSS, and Asia-pacific GEOSS. Four side events presented EuroGEOSS. The first one was organized by the ECOPOTENTIAL partner CREAF (Barcelona), addressing the role of Research and Innovation in the EuroGEOSS regional initiative. The three blocks of discussion focused on 1) the combined use of regional cross-disciplinary datasets to showcase the power of GEOSS in Europe, 2) the use of data and statistics and 3) data management principles.
Perhaps EuroGEOSS needs to complement observation data with socioeconomic data and opinions to connect economic impacts in society with environmental decisions. Decision makers need to validate their policy impacts and Earth Observation can produce the necessary indicators (e.g. for some of the Sustainable Development Goals; see EO4SDG initiative) but they also need to anticipate those impacts and rely on future projections. In that sense, we need a EuroGEOSS modeling component interlinked with Earth Observation data.For introducing point 1), an example for the significance of GEOSS in Europe has been given through a resources that has been accomplished by the Copernicus Programme, creating an open source database, thus providing the necessary tools for making policy choices based on facts, but also the other open source Earth observation data bases were mentioned. The European Union is contributing with the Sentinel fleet of Earth Observation satellites that complement the legacy of existing satellites (e.g. Landsat) producing an impact beyond Europe. The huge amount of data produced needs to build a distributed computing infrastructure capable of processing the big datasets, and scientists are requested to interpret the results and extract conclusions that are usable for policy making. In fact, in the past the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) has focused on cataloging data; now we need to go beyond that and to process datasets to offer information and knowledge. This capability was previously demonstrated on several data exploitations pilots in previous and current EC projects such as ECOPOTENTIAL and NextGEOSS. The need to complement remote sensing by in-situ expert data, in particularly for biodiversity and ecosystem products, has been highlighted.
To introduce the last topic on Data Management planning, a cartoon was used (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2zK3sAtr-4) about a scientist trying to get the data behind a scientific paper from the original author (that represents all you should not do in data management). EuroGEOSS should focus on educating data managers on the benefits of data sharing and providing the necessary support for sustaining the data centers. Proper mechanisms for publishing scientific papers need to go in parallel with the ones for publishing data, such as DOI for data and proper data citation.
The day concluded with the European Commission event where the concept of the EuroGEOSS initiative was exposed. Europe has been contributing to GEOSS since the beginning, and it is the variety in origins and topics of these contributions that convinced the High-Level Working Group and the European Caucus that a formal coordination initiative is required to articulate the European contribution in a more efficient and visible way. After some months of design, Washington DC was the scenario of the official launching of EuroGEOSS.