The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is leading a worldwide effort to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GEO comprises 84 countries, the European Union, and 58 participating organizations, including the IEEE. GEO is established on a voluntary and legally non-binding basis, with voluntary contributions to support activities. GEO builds upon existing national, regional, and international systems to provide comprehensive, coordinated Earth observations from thousands of instruments worldwide, transforming the data they collect into vital information for society.
GEO is addressing nine societal benefit areas: agriculture, disaster mitigation, weather forecasting, understanding the impact of the environment on health, management of energy and water resources, responding to global climate change, management of ecosystems, and biodiversity conservation. The GEO was formally established at the Third Earth Observation Summit in February 2005 to carry out the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan. Prior to its formal establishment, the Ad Hoc GEO (established at the First Earth Observation Summit in July 2003) met as a planning body to develop the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan.
To achieve GEO’s goal of developing GEOSS, there is a need for key technologies that can build and support information and decision-making infrastructure on levels ranging from global to local. These technologies – in communication, information processing, and environmental measurements – span the IEEE’s portfolio of technical expertise and form the technical basis for creating and sustaining GEOSS. There is also a need for education, outreach and planning for applications to ensure the realization of the intended societal benefits.
Overview of the IEEE Committee on Earth Observation (ICEO)
IEEE supports the GEO Vision for GEOSS: to realize a future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed via coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations and information. IEEE interfaces with GEO through its Committee on Earth Observation (ICEO).
The IEEE has more than 395,000 members in more than 160 countries. It is well positioned to support the technical developments for GEOSS on a global scale. The ICEO draws from IEEE volunteers to participate in the tasks and applications of GEO. GEO is focused on problem solving, not only on data and distribution. GEO has identified nine societal benefit areas that that provide the basis for significant impacts on human conditions. These objectives are aligned with IEEE’s core purpose, which is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.
Leadership and participation of tasks in the 2009-11 work plan provide IEEE volunteers the opportunity to introduce advanced technologies in data systems, interoperability, communications and applications into GEOSS to serve the human community to meet of the challenges of environment and sustainability.