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From GCI to GEOSS Platform: a comprehensive response to user needs

10 November 2017

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In a move to better serve Earth observation user communities, the ever-evolving GEOSS Platform incorporates new and customisable instruments and services.

The latest progress on implementation of the Global Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS) was highlighted at GEO Week 2017, during the 14th Plenary of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Washington, DC.

In the current era of big data, the number of Earth observation resources is growing exponentially. Despite the existence of more data, users often can't find or connect to the resources they need for their work and decision making.

In response to this challenge, the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) connects users with over 400 million Earth observation resources from over 5,000 data providers, all accessible through a single portal. These numbers continue to grow as more data providers make their data and information discoverable through the GCI.

In order to better serve data users, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Research Council of Italy (CNR –IIA) are working in close collaboration with the GEO Secretariat, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the University of Geneva to move the GCI towards a ‘GEOSS Platform', which will house customisable instruments and services for diverse user communities.

"These new GEOSS widgets could really easily be integrated into our wetlands portal" said Jonas Eberle of the GEO Wetland initiative. "Users can now directly access GEOSS data via our own portal and combine them with our own data".

Sergio Cinnirella, representing the GEO Flagship Global Observation System for Mercury, demonstrated the use of GEOSS Mirrors for their community. "The mirror, part of the GEOSS Platform, provides functionalities that enhance better use of EO data, foster data sharing and give strong support to the implementation of Minamata Convention on mercury."

GOS4M Portal The GOS4M Portal, a GEOSS Mirror portal benefitting from GEOSS Platform functionality including views, status checking, and a customised display for the Global Observing System for Mercury community.

Li Guoqing, of the Chinese Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stated that the Chinese Digital Belt And Road (DBAR) initiative could benefit from access to Earth observations via the enhanced GEOSS Platform, in terms of identifying opportunities to better cope with shared economic, developmental and environmental challenges faced by participating countries.

Barbara Ryan, Director of the GEO Secretariat, highlighted the importance of this initiative during GEO Week: "These new instruments really seem to help in responding to the individual community needs. Collaboration with the users and other stakeholders is and has always been a must. It is good to see GEOSS creating more and more impact with such a user-centric approach."

Robert-Jan Smits, Director General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, noted the value of this work for the GEO community: "This will further help GEO to convene Earth observations expertise and capacity from around the world to address societal challenges." The European Commission has provided a large part of the funding of the development of the GEOSS Platform via H2020 and FP7 and is currently co-funding the ESA-led EDGE project (European Direction in GCI Enhancements).

Joost van Bemmelen of the European Space Agency emphasised the intention to continue developing the Platform with a user-centric approach, empowering users to easily access and apply Earth observations for decision making across all domains.

Those interested are invited to contact the GEOSS Platform team to contribute to its continued improvements and efforts to empower end-users of Earth observation data, information and resources.

GEOSS members GEOSS Platform and other GEOSS members from left Mattia Santoro (CNR-IIA), Eldrich Frazier (USGS), Gregory Giugliani (Univ. of Geneva), Joost van Bemmelen (ESA), Guido Colangeli (ESA), Paolo Mazzetti (CNR-IIA), Paola De Salvo (GeoSec), Nicola Pirrone (CNR-IIA), Palma Blonda (CNR-ISSIA), Stefano Nativi (CNR-IIA), Lionel Menard (MINES ParisTech), Massimo Craglia (EC DG-JRC)


European Space Agency: Joost van Bemmelen, Guido Colangeli

National Research Council of Italy: Stefano Nativi, Mattia Santoro

GEO Secretariat: Paola De Salvo


GEOSS portal:

GEO website: