Data and Knowledge Working Group

Data and Knowledge Working Group


The Data Working Group (Data-WG) is convened to work with the GEO community and external stakeholders to address data policy, data ethics and data governance issues impacting the use of Earth observations. This collaborative effort aims to enhance the uptake of Earth observations for decision making.

In this way, we support the translation of the Canberra Declaration into concrete actions within the GEO Work Programme.


  • Іdentifying best practices for addressing legal, ethical, privacy, intellectual property, and other concerns related to Earth observations data sharing and management
  • Promoting the global adoption and implementation of GEOSS Data Sharing Principles and GEOSS Data Management Principles
  • Advancing the interoperability of Earth observations and complementary data as well as facilitating discussions with stakeholder communities on data-related topics


Four co-chairs are elected by and from the Data-WG members. These co-chairs represent a balance of gender, geography, and generation.


Are established to run the work of the Data and Knowledge Working Group:

  • SG1: GEO Data Working Subgroup - Data Sharing / Management

    Societal benefits arising from Earth observations can only be fully achieved through the sharing of data, information, knowledge, products and services. Since its inception in 2005, GEO has been instrumental in advocating and expanding full and open access to EO data worldwide.

    In 2015, GEO adopted a series of universal Data Management Principles, whose implementation by the broader community will ensure that open data is discoverable, usable, accessible and preserved for integrated use across communities for scientific understanding, sound decision making and market development.

    SG3 is focused on:

    • Producing trend analyses and recommendations for revising the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles and the GEOSS Data Management Principles and Implementation Guidelines;
    • Continuous promotion of the the adoption and implementation of the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles and the GEOSS Data Management Principles globally;
    • Recommending ways for GEO to advance the interoperability of Earth observations and complementary data, products and services.
  • SG2: GEO Data Working Subgroup - In Situ

    The aims and activities of SG4 are focused on and seek to engage with in-situ data providers. It also works closely with the wider GEO community and other relevant standards organisations to achieve greater coordination among in-situ data communities and gain a better understanding of the requirements of in-situ data users.

    The key focus areas include:

    • Promoting Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable (FAIR) and open data;
    • Encouraging good data management practices, including encouraging use of trusted and sustainable repositories and attribution through use of digital object identifiers;
    • Defining and promoting interoperable data management strategies and other relevant standards for in-situ data and associated metadata;
    • Demonstrating and communicating the importance of in-situ data through the GEO Knowledge Hub and other relevant channels;
    • Identifying the main challenges and barriers hindering efficient use of in-situ data, and seeking potential solutions for overcoming them;
    • Justifying the need for continued and sustainable funding of in-situ data gathering, observing networks, and similar capabilities;
    • Collaborating with the GEO regional initiatives to support capacity building for in-situ data management.
  • SG3: GEO Data Working Subgroup - Ethics

    SG1 is focused on thorough examination of possible challenges related to ethical collection, ownership, storage, distribution, and use of Earth observation data. By proactively addressing the ethical concerns associated with providing Earth observation data, we can develop more effective approaches for adapting to and mitigating climate change.

  • SG4: GEO Data Working Subgroup - Law Policy

    As more organisations combine open datasets to utilise technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, they face challenges related to the legal aspects of merging datasets with different licence terms. This issue, known as "legal interoperability," arises because the legal frameworks governing data have not kept pace with the rapid advancements in data transformation and integration.

    SG2 is focused on exploring possible instruments for balancing open access with other important considerations such as privacy and indigenous data sovereignty with the aim to make as much Earth observations data open as possible.

    The subgroup's activities are aimed at achieving the following goals:

    • Users spend less time and resources dealing with data access and usage rights, and legally use the best available data for their application with maximum flexibility and minimal restriction;
    • Data providers are more willing to share data openly and spend less time and resources creating and negotiating custom EULAs for their data;
    • Data systems implement legal interoperability functions seamlessly with their data dissemination, access, transformation, integration, and analysis functions, helping to ensure appropriate use and implementation of conditions (including attribution and registration), reducing time delays, and improving traceability;
    • Rapid integration of data of different types from diverse public and private sources increases due to reduction in legal barriers and uncertainties.

Documents & Resources

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference will remain in effect for the period of the 2023-2025 GEO Work Programme. It may be revised with the approval of the Programme Board.

Roadmap and subgroup work plans

A Roadmap is proposed to guide the work of the Data-WG and prioritize action based on the approved Terms of Reference. The Roadmap also outlines the way members engage and contribute to the objectives of the Data-WG. It contains priority deliverables, milestones and the working timeline, as well as the work plan of each subgroup. While the Data-WG activities are outlined for the 2020-2022 period, some have an ongoing nature and are intended to be continued beyond the first term.

Other Documents


Individuals interested in joining a WG must be nominated by the GEO Principal of their relevant GEO Member, Participating Organization, or by a GEO Work Programme activity lead. As appropriate, the Programme Board may also invite other qualified individuals to participate as members.


For more information about the Data and Knowledge Working Group please contact us