White House: Tackling Data from Earth Observation Systems & Reviews Apps for Disaster Response

The White House is keeping busy. In two separate efforts the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is reviewing geospatial technology initiatives in earth observation systems and in disaster response and recovery.

On July 18th, the OSTP released a report on the National Plan for Civil Earth Observations with the express purpose, according to the report, to "maximize the value of observations collected by Federal agencies of the Earth’s land surfaces, oceans, and atmosphere. The Plan is a blueprint for future Federal investments in and strategic partnerships to advance Earth observing systems that help protect life and property, stimulate economic growth, maintain homeland security, and advance scientific research and public understanding." The plan was based on input from various sources called for last November. The plan identifies specific prior ties including but not limited to:

  1. Continuity of sustained observations for public services
  2. Continuity of sustained observations for Earth-system research
  3. Continued investment in experimental observations

Subsequent to these priorities are specific actions that include:

  1. Coordinate and integrate observations
  2. Improve data access, management, and interoperability
  3. Increase efficiency and cost savings

And today at the White House, the OSTP is reviewing demonstrations and apps from public and private organizations for mitigating the challenges brought about by natural disaster response and recovery. Today is "White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day" whereby several private companies and public agencies are demonstrating technology that will hopefully cut the "red tape" of getting data and information to first responders and officials that need better access to geospatial technology. For example, the NGA is demonstrating GeoQ, an open source platform that was released to GitHub in March. The NGA is working with the non-profit GEO Huntsville on a pilot project called "Blueprint for Safety" (at the 1:12 mark of the video below) that supports geospatial data sharing and tasking for first responders.

The entire demonstration was broadcast live and can be found at YouTube:

These activities come on the heels of another White House report on "big data and privacy" that called attention to how geospatial information is used and its potential impact to privacy especially from data collected by social media.

Published Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Written by Joe Francica

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