The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) organized “GEO Week 2018” in Kyoto, Japan, in conjunction with its 15th Plenary session, October 31–November 1. The week included two days of side events together with an exhibition held at Kyoto’s International Convention Center. CIESIN director Robert Chen organized a side event of the GEO Data Sharing Working Group (DSWG) and also participated in a session focused on Earth observation applications in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the DSWG session, he provided an overview of GEO’s longstanding efforts to advance open data sharing since GEO’s establishment in 2005, including the adoption of new data sharing principles in 2015. The DSWG has continued to address a range of implementation issues with regard to open data sharing at both national and international levels.
For the SDGs session, Chen reported on efforts by the GEO Human Planet Initiative (HPI) to expand understanding of human settlement, infrastructure, and population patterns and trends over time, drawing on an increasing array of remote sensing and other data sources. In particular, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has led development of the Atlas of the Human Planet, published in 2016 and 2017; the 2018 edition is due to be released soon, together with data that the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN helped develop. Chen also gave an overview of other HPI activities, including new resources being developed by the POPGRID Data Collective, an international collaboration supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chen is a co-chair of the DSWG, representing the International Science Council, and co-leads the HPI with Martino Pesaresi of the JRC.