Introductory Remarks by Session Chair
Boston University, United States
Worldwide emphasis on fast-paced economic development necessitates attention to the environmental consequences. Improving and sustaining the environment are prerequisites for proper development in the long term; therefore, monitoring changes in the environment becomes an essential tool for sustainable development. Digital data and information pertaining to the environment are an integral part of the discussion of open-access and public-domain information. Satellite image data from numerous sources (on the atmosphere, the land surface, and coastal zones) form a basic component of the requirements. Two or more digital images of the same object or phenomenon can be superimposed, using widely available tools of information technology hardware and software, to instantly display the change from one time to another. Such data should be made available as widely as possible to the international scientific community. Three distinguished contributors to this session will cover the following aspects of this endeavor.
The first contribution is by Mukund Rao of the Indian Space Research Organization. His presentation emphasizes that the use of geospatial information is limited only by the imagination, citing examples, including natural resources development, disaster management, land use assessment, and environmental restoration. The second presentation, by Peter Weiss of the U.S. National Weather Service, deals with meteorological data. Open and unrestricted access to meteorological data is provided in the United States free of charge. However, in Europe these data are considered revenue generating in the short term, which limits their availability and use. The third contribution, by Liu Chuang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, presents a case study illustrating that the current access models for information in China are changing and moving toward free and open availability.
There is no question that access to information can lead to a better understanding of Earth and its environment. Efforts should be made to constantly assure the availability and ease of exchange of data among researchers worldwide.