Implementing GEOSS


A central part of GEO’s Mission is to build the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GEOSS is a set of coordinated, independent Earth observation, information and processing systems that interact and provide access to diverse information for a broad range of users in both public and private sectors. GEOSS links these systems to strengthen the monitoring of the state of the Earth. It facilitates the sharing of environmental data and information collected from the large array of observing systems contributed by countries and organizations within GEO. Further, GEOSS ensures that these data are accessible, of identified quality and provenance, and interoperable to support the development of tools and the delivery of information services. Thus, GEOSS increases our understanding of Earth processes and enhances predictive capabilities that underpin sound decision-making: it provides access to data, information and knowledge to a wide variety of users.

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This ‘system of systems’, through its Common Infrastructure (GCI), proactively links together existing and planned observing systems around the world and support the need for the development of new systems where gaps currently exist. It will promote common technical standards so that data from the thousands of different instruments can be combined into coherent data sets. The ‘GEOSS Portal’ offers a single Internet access point for users seeking data, imagery and analytical software packages relevant to all parts of the globe. It connects users to existing data bases and portals and provides reliable, up-to-date and user friendly information – vital for the work of decision makers, planners and emergency managers. For users with limited or no access to the Internet, similar information is available via the ‘GEONETCast’ network of telecommunication satellites.

GEOSS Evolution

GEO has devoted considerable efforts to building the GEOSS infrastructure and capabilities that have made Earth observations discoverable. This infrastructure comprises both observing and information systems:

  • observation systems: which include ground-, air-, water- and space-based sensors, field surveys and citizen observatories. GEO works to coordinate the planning, sustainability and operation of these systems, aiming to maximize their added-value and use; and
  • information and processing systems: which include hardware and software tools needed for handling, processing and delivering data from the observation systems to provide information, knowledge, services and products.

To continue leveraging these successes through 2025, GEO will evolve GEOSS and its infrastructures to meet current and emerging needs by:

  • extending the user audience to decision-makers and the general public;
  • placing additional focus on the accessibility and usability of Earth observation resources to improve our scientific understanding of the Earth processes, and enhance our predictive capabilities that underpin sound decision-making;
  • providing a service framework to engage partners and user communities in evolving the current infrastructure to enable collaborative tools for co-creation of products and services suitable for effective exploitation by user communities; and
  • evolving the current system of systems component based architecture with an open systems platform that is flexible, sustainable and reliable for data access, integration and use, and the delivery of knowledge-based products and services.

The GEOSS Commen Infrastructure (GCI)

Through the GEOSS Commen Infrastructure (GCI), GEOSS resources, including Earth observation data (satellite, airborne, in situ, models), information services, standards and best practices, can be searched, discovered and accessed by scientists, policy leaders, decision makers, and those who develop and provide information services across the entire spectrum of users.


The GEOSS Portal is the single Internet gateway to the comprehensive data produced by the GEOSS community. A new version of the portal was launched in December 2013. Developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), this new Portal makes it easier and faster to integrate diverse data sets; identify relevant data and portals of contributing systems; access models and other decision-support tools; and preview data before downloading. The Portal is powered by the Discovery & Access Broker (DAB) developed by the National Research Council of Italy (CNR). The DAB connects users to an ever-increasing number of databases and information systems around the world.


The GEOSS Resource Registration tool enables both data provides and users to register their resources and also to share their knowledge and experiences of standard&interoperability and best practices in all fields of Earth observation.


Contact Information
Osamu Ochiai
Scientific and Technical Officer
+41 22 730 8112

The GEOSS Data Sharing Principles

One of the first accomplishments of the Group on Earth Observations was the acceptance of a set of high level Data Sharing Principles as a foundation for GEOSS. Ensuring that these principles are implemented in an effective yet flexible manner remains a major challenge. The 10-Year Implementation Plan says "The societal benefits of Earth observations cannot be achieved without data sharing" and sets out the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles:

  • There will be full and open exchange of data, metadata and products shared within GEOSS, recognizing relevant international instruments and national policies and legislation;
  • All shared data, metadata and products will be made available with minimum time delay and at minimum cost;
  • All shared data, metadata and products being free of charge or no more than cost of reproduction will be encouraged for research and education.

For more information please visit the Data Sharing Working Group pages.

The GEOSS Architecture Implementation Pilot

This Call for Participation (CFP) seeks organizations to participate in the 8th Phase of the GEOSS Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP-8). AIP develops and pilots new process and infrastructure components for the GCI and the broader GEOSS architecture. The main aims of AIP are to reach consensus on Interoperability Arrangements and to register operational components and services that carry forward into persistent operations of GEOSS.

This CFP invites GEO Members and Participating Organizations to:

Develop and deploy easy-to-use online (Web and Mobile) apps that demonstrate the value of standards-based access to EO data and services registered with GEOSS. Target areas include:

  • Flood and drought Monitoring, Food security and Energy management
  • Environmental monitoring using Mobile Sensors, Citizen Observatories, Crowd Sourcing
  • Crop insurance
  • Agriculture and Water pollution
  • Wind and Solar Energy Potential Estimator
  • Earth cover change detection
  • Ocean observations and commercial fisheries
  • Precision farming
  • Disaster monitoring and management

Community Portals

  • Understand the various interoperability arrangements needed in order for the GCI and Community Portals to interoperate.
  • The Community Portal activity can bring together the developers of the GCI and Community Portals to test the proposed interoperability arrangements.
Activities to support the key Apps and the community portals

  • Deploy and integrate standard technologies to facilitate data access, including user authentication, security, privacy and geoprocessing workflows
  • Mobile and Web app development frameworks

Build toward the vision of the Model Web

  • Models are the codification of the best understanding we have about physical phenomena and process and should be further applied
  • The vision of Model Web should be a basis for development: A dynamic web of models, integrated with databases and websites, to form a consultative infrastructure where researchers, managers, policy makers, and the general public can go to gain insight into “what if” questions.
  • Adopt a step-wise approach, considering low hanging fruits and integrating existing components.  Involve Users, adopting social approaches to progress business models. Lower entry barriers: e.g. filling the gap between the Business Processes Design (Abstract) and Executable workflows. Link with analogous initiatives stemming from different areas (e.g. medicine, biology).
  • Develop an Integrated Model Web based on the existing technologies, e.g., OpenMI and ESMF. Further testing of OpenMI and ESMF together should be encouraged to increase the community understanding of concepts that are in common and implementations approaches that differ to meet different operating environments.

To be most effective, organizations responding to the CFP should plan to fully participate in the Pilot development activities beginning with the Kickoff Workshop planned for 23 March 2015 in Norfolk VA, USA.

Responding to the CFP by 27nd February 2015 will support the most efficient, coordinated development of GEOSS based upon a shared understanding of resources participating in AIP-8. CFP responses are requested to be brief.

This CFP is issued by the GEOSS Design and Interoperability (IN-05) Task Team and guided by the Infrastructure Implementation Board (IIB).

Discussion and clarification of the CFP and the initiation of AIP-7 will be the topic of weekly teleconferences. Agenda and logistics for these teleconferences are posted at

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) provides leadership in AIP-7. The Point of Contact for the AIP initiative is the OGC's Director, Interoperability Program, Bart De Lathouwer,

The related information documents are available below:

please also visit the GEO key documents page.

Past AIP results

GCI User Requirements

Towards GCI User Requirements document has the  purpose to collect the User Requirements applicable to the GEOSS CommonInfrastructure (GCI). A ‘user’ is the term employed for anyone accessing information through the GCI.

These requirements apply to:

  • Functions and tools that GCI makes available to users to search discover access and visualize Earth observation (EO) resources.
  • Grouping of pre-identified resources for facilitated user access, e.g thematic or geographic based portals, described in section 4.1
  • Identification of type, standards and quality of the resources to be made accessible to the users.

The document constitutes therefore one of the vehicle for users to provide their requirements but also the reference for the development and the operation of the GCI and for the assessment of its overall performance.

Its use is therefore twofold:

  • It is formally provided to the teams developing and operating the GCI, so that they can revise activities to implement these GCI User Requirements accordingly,
  • It is subject to a “rolling review” with the users to provide feedback to constantly update and validate its content.

It is the tool to gather GCI functionalities requirements from the broader GEO Community (Flagships,Initiatives and Community Activities). It is the tool to include requirements derived as well by regular “user testing sessions”, (not only surveys) on several scenarios, involving all GEO communities.

Your input on additional functionalities of the GCI

You can provide additonal functionalities by downloading this excel table and sending it to the and