To benefit society by promoting the development and realization of Digital Earth
For the first time ever, the International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE) attended and obtained a high presence at the Geospatial World Forum (GWF) 2022 that took place in Zaandam, Netherlands from May 10 to 12.
The Geospatial World Forum (GWF) is the premium geospatial industry platform that connects professionals and leaders representing the entire geospatial ecosystem. Its collaborative and interactive nature has made GWF a ‘conference of conferences’, offering unique, unmissable experience to geospatial professionals worldwide. For this year, the main theme of the gathering was to motivate discussions around the interaction between geography and humanity concerning sustainability of, not only the ecosystems, but the interdependent society and economy as well.
Represented by those ISDE Bureau, Council and Working Group (WG) members that were present at Zaandam, the ISDE met and interacted with various stakeholders, industry sectors and individuals that shape the geospatial community. In this participation, the ISDE members showcased the organization’s mission and vision towards the Digital Earth.
With a partnership forged with GWF, the ISDE also had the opportunity to organize a special event during the in-person gathering through a dedicated session entitled “The Platform Economy: Digital Earth as the Billion Dollar Code”. Such a theme, based on a German movie, illustrates perfectly the high-economic value that a Digital Earth Platform will have in the near future.
The Geospatial World Forum brings together hundreds of participants from private sector enterprises, multilateral and development organizations, scientific and academic institutions, etc.
This session was an extremely important action for ISDE since having a dedicated session during the GWF-2022 enables the ISDE to obtain high visibility within the geospatial industrial and governmental sectors.
Those ISDE council and working group members present at the ISDE session during GWF2022. (L-R) Stephanie Tumampos (Young Ambassador), Mario Hernandez (Vice President), Caroline Gevaert (ISDE WG-3 co-chair for “Governance and Ethics”), Josef Strobl (ISDE WG-5 co-chair for “Education and Capacity Building”), Barbara Ryan (ISDE WG-2 co-chair for “Industry engagement for Digital Earth”), Alessandro Annoni (ISDE President), and Stefano Nativi (ISDE WG-1 co-chair for “Science and Technology for Digital Earth). *Not in photo: Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse (ISDE Vice-President). Photo by: Harsha Vardhan Madiraju.
The ISDE session was successfully chaired and moderated by Stephanie Tumampos, ISDE Young Ambassador. Stephanie introduced ISDE to the audience and animated the final overall discussion, question and answers.
The speakers present at the session were:
- Alessandro Annoni, ISDE President
- Stefano Nativi, ISDE WG-1 co-chair “Science and Technology for Digital Earth”
- Barbara Ryan, ISDE WG-2 co-chair “Industry engagement for Digital Earth”
- Josef Strobl, ISDE WG-5 co-chair “ISDE Education and Capacity Building”
- Caroline Gevaert, ISDE WG-3 co-chair “Governance and Ethics”
- Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse, ISDE Vice-President
Alesandro started the discussion with an overall vision of the current status of ISDE, and indicated how the concept of ISDE has evolved – initially considered as a single platform and today, being foreseen as a system of platforms working in full interoperability.
Stefano, the next speaker, indicated that the digital transformation of society is feeding a “digital tornado effect”. He emphasized the fact that we are currently moving from a previous “internet of data” into a “platform economy” and this will require new forms of business and governance schemes. Stefano foresees “Digital Twins” as a system of systems that continuously learns and updates itself and, must be seen as a living digital simulation model that modifies and changes itself as its physical counterpart changes.
The next talk initiated by Barbara indicated the important role the industry has. She also emphasized the importance of starting to orchestrate all current efforts towards a more sustainable and clearer goal not only for their consumers but also, for the whole of the geospatial community. Moreover, her emphasis on the 3-I’s which meant Inclusivity, Innovation and Integration provides a platform for opportunity for industries and stakeholders
The advent of high technology and user data collection have also created a societal issue - ethics. Caroline discussed the topic of ethics and good governance in implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the geospatial perspective. She recalled that, in ethics, actors do have a responsibility. She indicated the importance of inclusiveness, fairness and non-discrimination. From her point of view, fairness implies sharing benefits of AI technologies at local, national and international levels, while taking into consideration the specific needs of different groups. Additionally, she illustrated this particular concept with a striking satellite image showing a side-by-side view of a wealthy and well-developed human settlement area beside a poor and undeveloped one. Caroline concluded by indicating that with education. tools are being identified in order to support ISDE, and in particular, the area of Ethics and Governance.
Education plays another important part in creating a “Digital Earth”. This is the message Josef, who is the ISDE co-chair for WG5 - Education and Capability Building for Digital Earth, highlighted in the session. He also underscored the importance citizen science has: “connecting by location”. Joseph also presented the Copernicus Master in Digital Earth, which is an Erasmus+ mobility programme designed for students to use data from the Copernicus satellite program and translate it into information broadening the Digital Earth vision. Lastly, Zaffar presented the application of Digital Earth in support of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and indicated the societal transformation that will be required. Zaffar showed the tremendous amount of data that is available indicating that society is absolutely not lacking data but that we are lacking the coordination to generate the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions and to help the UN SDG initiatives. He summarized that utilizing Digital Earth as a concept to communicate UN SDG development will be a way forward for the community to think.
After the presentations, an overall discussion session was initiated. The attendees indicated their appreciation to be informed about the International Society for Digital Earth, an organization that was unknown to some of participants before this GWF event.
One major topic discussed during the Q&A session was the issue of data quality as an essential component for the success of Digital Earth. It was indicated that quality should not only be at the level of data in its raw form but, it is necessary to assure quality in the whole process which is from data to information and then, to knowledge.
Towards the end, it was recommended that such an ISDE session should be done at a wider audience at GWF, mainly to be considered as a plenary session.
After the special dedicated ISDE session at GWF-2022, a private ISDE meeting was held in order to advance the discussion towards a vision for Digital Earth. The meeting was extremely productive and it illustrated that much progress is obtained through in-person meetings, as compared to being connected through teleconferences. This indicates that, in all issues related with Digital Earth, the human component is an essential element. The Digital Earth Vision should highlight this aspect since at the end it will be the society the one interacting with the Digital Earth system of systems.