GEO and Open EO Data


Data Sharing is a pre-requisite for building an effective Global Earth Observation System of Systems. It is the backbone of the abiding GEO vision “a future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations and information.”

GEO recognizes that the societal benefits arising from Earth observations can only be fully achieved through the sharing of data, information, knowledge, products and services.

Ever since its inception, GEO has been a strong advocate for broad and open data-sharing policies and practices. The Data Sharing Principles (2005-2015) inspired a few Members and Participating Organizations to evolve from restricted data policies to Open Data approaches. Data sharing was also recognized as one of the greatest successes of the first GEO decade.

Embracing the international trend of Open Data, GEO Principals endorsed a new set of Data Sharing Principles, which promote ‘Open Data by Default’, in Mexico City at the dawn of the second decade of GEO (2016-2025). Full implementation of the revised GEOSS Data Sharing Principles continues as an essential step towards maximizing the net societal and economic benefits of the global investment by GEO Members and Participating Organizations in building GEOSS.

Ministers in the GEO community have committed in the Canberra Declaration to support GEO’s approach to open data sharing and open access to data, information and knowledge. Specifically, the Ministers:

Resolve to work, individually and through GEO, to encourage the use of Earth observations in an inclusive digital economy that promotes sustainable economic and social development.

Reiterate the critical role that full, secure and open sharing of Earth observations data and knowledge will play in deeper integration of Earth observation technologies into the digital economy.

Encourage governments to increase free access to Earth observations created using public resources.

Highlight that the digital economy is generating opportunities to fully integrate information on the current and forecast state of the Earth into all aspects of decision making, from national strategic planning, through to day-to-day actions of individual businesses.


Despite broad recognition and acceptance of the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles, still less than 50 percent of GEO Member governments have established national Open Data regulations/policies to enable agencies to share Earth observation datasets nationally, regionally and internationally.

Various data providers still have the perception that the implementation of the Open Data policy could pose challenges to their development, resulting in limited revenue, in particular as payments for reuse are not consistent with the Principle ‘at no more than the cost of reproduction and distribution’. Many providers cannot see a clear articulation of a new business model linked to the adoption of Data Sharing Principles.

Another challenge is life-cycle data management. Even with a legal framework and social willingness to share data, lack of knowledge about data management schemes and tools leads to unusable or unsustainable datasets from which decision-makers cannot benefit.


GEO strives to:

  • Reinforce international recognition of Open EO Data as a key resource to inform the decision-making in addressing environmental challenges;
  • Identify and share good practices to help GEO Governments and key EO data providers make EO data accessible, usable and accountable;
  • Amplify and broaden the evidence base for Open EO Data reform;
  • Raise awareness of the technical, organizational, and resource implications of implementing the  Data Sharing Principles and Data Management Principles; and
  • Engage with the broader global open data community.

Value of open EO data

Open Earth observation data brings a multitude of environmental and economic benefits. Opportunities from open data include supporting broad economic benefits and growth, enhancing social welfare, growing research and innovation opportunities, facilitating knowledge sharing among a new generation of scientists and effective governance and policy making.

Find more in the Value of open Earth observation data report.