Commission to open Global Earth observation data

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Commission to open Global Earth observation data

Brussels, 13 November 2015

The European Commission, a founding member of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), has subscribed today in Mexico to the 2015 - 2025 implementation plan of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The 10-year Strategic Plan will provide open access to earth observation data from anywhere in the world to decision makers, researchers and innovators.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Removing barriers to international cooperation between researchers and innovators is one of my top priorities. The strategic GEO plan we are approving today is another milestone in strengthening European external action. This will not only facilitate international research and innovation cooperation but also support international cooperation for dealing with risks and opportunities arising from global change through climate negotiations, sustainable development policy, humanitarian aid and crisis management".

The EU has already made significant investments in Earth observation through the European Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation in order to build GEOSS and realise the economic and societal benefits from it. Over the last decade more than €250 million have been invested in research and innovation projects that use GEOSS to respond to various societal challenges such as disaster resilience, ecosystem and biodiversity conservation or water management. These research activities have been pivotal to inform policy decisions and to promote cross-border and multidisciplinary scientific partnerships.

Through Horizon 2020 and Copernicus, Europe will significantly contribute to the implementation of GEOSS during the next ten years. With Horizon 2020 –the EU's Framework programme for Research and Innovation– Europe is launching major international initiatives to develop integrated observing systems such as the ATLANTOS programme, designed to integrate in situ ocean observations over the Atlantic Ocean. The European Commission is also initiating innovation actions to demonstrate crowdsourcing applications which capitalise on citizens' observatories. In 2017, it will call for additional in situ observation systems, for instance based on smart disposable sensors or sensors on board unmanned platforms. The European Commission will also extend its efforts to promote new innovative 'apps' based on GEOSS open data sets. During the GEO week in Mexico winning teams from a competition targeting young innovators organised by MyGEOSS –a two-year project (2015-16) by the European Commission–, have presented live demos of their new mobile and web based 'apps' addressing citizens' needs.


Earth observation is an integral part of the digital data revolution. It is a vector for innovation, jobs and growth in Europe and a domain where the EU should keep up to ensure a leading place in a more digitised and globalised economy. The GEO strategic plan is an asset for Europe to develop its Digital Single Market and ensure a leading place in an increasingly globalised digital economy. It will contribute to master the global trend towards open data and leverage opportunities from big data technologies which radically transform the domain of global Earth observation. Exploitation of, and market creation for, Earth observation data and products will be boosted by a global approach and cooperation on data collection, processing and co design of information products in the GEOSS context.

"A Space Strategy for Europe" is one of the 2016 Work Programme key initiatives by the European Commission. In the years 2014-2020, the EU will invest over €12 billion in the space flagship programmes (Galileo and Copernicus) and Horizon 2020 space research. These investments are expected to create substantial European market opportunities, in particular for European industry and SMEs, through the development of value-added downstream services and applications, which require continuous and sustained access to space-born data.

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