Ten rules to increase the societal value of earth observations

This article provides guidance to help increase the societal value of the Earth Observation data, information, and data products.

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March 3, 2020


Arika Virapongse, Francoise Pearlman, Jay Pearlman, Miriam Murambadoro, Margaret Glasscoe, and Yusuke Kuwayama


Journal Article in Earth Science Informatics

Reading time

1 minute


Earth Observation (EO) data play an important role in our society today, but there is still tremendous opportunity to improve how these data are used to affect change. In this paper, we provide guidance to help data providers and intermediaries within the EO value chain (from data to applications) increase the societal value of the EO data, information, and data products that they work with. We first describe the EO value chain as a conceptual framework for how data are translated and applied for societal benefit. We then introduce three approaches that are often used to assess and improve the EO value chain. Finally, we present “10 rules” that can be implemented to increase the societal benefits of Earth science information. The 10 rules emphasize meeting user needs, problem-solving within interdisciplinary teams, and long-term sustainable solutions. Some rules focus on a specific segment of the value chain or phase in the problem-solving process, while others are relevant to the value chain or process as a whole. Each rule includes at least one case study example to illustrate the key points. The rules are loosely organized according to project management principles with the initial rules focusing on defining problems, planning for data use, creating effective teams, and examining a diverse selection of solutions. The next set of rules are best applied throughout a project, and include such concepts as evaluation, interoperability, trust, adoption, and documentation. Finally, the last rule addresses the challenge of determining when to close a project.


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