Digital Earth Vision

Since the concept of "Digital Earth" was put forth in 1998 ( the speech given by Al Gore for the California Science Center in Los Angeles on January 31, 1998), the development of Digital Earth has thrived with the help of active promotion by scientists from various countries.

The themes of the previous seven symposia: Moving towards Digital Earth, Beyond Information Infrastructure, Information Resources for Global Sustainability, Digital Earth as Global Commons, Bring Digital Earth down to Earth, Digital Earth and Sustainability, Digital Earth and Global Change, Digital Earth in Action, and the Knowledge Generation, as well as the two Digital Earth Declarations ( 1999
Beijing Declaration on Digital Earth and 2009 Beijing Declaration on Digital Earth ) have laid out a panoramic scenario for the future growth of Digital Earth.

On 16-18 March 2011, ISDE organized its Working Group Meeting, a brainstorming workshop discussing on "Digital Earth Vision 2020" in Beijing. It argues that the vision of Digital Earth put forward by Vice-President Al Gore 13 years ago needs to be re-evaluated in the light of the many developments in the fields of information technology, data infrastructures and earth observation that have taken place since. 

The scientific outputs of the workshop include:

A paper entitled “Digital Earth 2020: towards the vision for the next decade” published in the International Journal of Digital Earth, Issue 1, 2012.

The paper identifies the main policy, scientific and societal drivers for the development of DE and illustrates the multi-faceted nature of a new vision of DE grounding it with a few examples of potential applications. It argued that the many advances that have taken place in the 13 years since the original vision of DE require a reappraisal and the articulation of a revised vision. Key technological developments have been in the evolution of Internet bandwidth, and in improved visualisation techniques. Equally important have been the social developments, with the widespread adoption of social networks as a key way to communicate and turn citizens into major providers of information.

Paper download here


A paper entitled “Next-Generation Digital Earth” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) on June 2012.

The paper introduces that, new developments in Internet, 3D, and Earth observation technologies have further accelerated the fulfilment of the Digital Earth concept and expanded the possibilities of what Digital Earth can be. It has become clear that the next generation of Digital Earth will not be a single system but, rather, multiple connected infrastructures based on open access and participation across multiple technological platforms that will address the needs of different audiences. A more dynamic view has also been proposed of Digital Earth as a digital nervous system of the globe, actively informing about events happening on (or close to) the Earth’s surface by connecting to sensor networks and situation-aware systems.

Paper download here