Recommendations and Organization: White House Releases 2013 Strategy for Earth Observation

The cover of the latest report. Image Credit: U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The cover of the latest report. Image Credit:

A new U.S. National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations for 2013 (EO Strategy) aims to help meet the nation’s data and information needs by creating a plan that facilitates sharing information and prioritizing studies within 11 federal agencies and among federal and civilian agencies.

The resulting flow on information is to inform decision-makers on issues related to Earth science topics. Much of the data these agencies share also will become available to the public, turning up in everyday situations such as weather reports or satellite images available on the internet.

The U.S. first mandated the creation of an EO Strategy in 2010 as part of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The Act specified that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should seek to promote coordination of Earth Science research. By improving communication and strategic planning in the Earth sciences, the Obama administration hoped to promote environmental health and benefit society members, from farmers and ranchers to businessmen and decision-makers. To this end, the National Earth Observation Task force was created, and it got to work on formulating a strategy. The first EO Strategy report was presented to Congress in December 2010 and offered a three-year plan.

The 2010 EO Strategy focused on the need for an updated data recording infrastructure in 17 categories, such as soil moisture and ocean color. It recommended 2011 budget funding to help promote these studies.

The new 2013 EO Strategy focuses primarily on the evaluation and prioritization of data gathering. The volume of data collected each day on the ocean, space, air, and soil is enormous, and the Strategy seeks to improve efficiency through organization and prioritization. Potential Earth observation investments are arranged in relationship to their societal value in categories such as agriculture or water resources. The Strategy also aims to better organize existing systems and information, and proposes methods of information sharing, both with the pubic and relevant international organizations.

Further details about the 2013 Strategy can be found on WhiteHouse.gov: “Taking the Pulse of Our Planet: New Strategy for Earth Observations.”

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