Toward a National Plan for Observing our Earth

Today, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) took an important next step to maximize the value of the enormous amount of data collected every day about the Earth and its many environments: a call for public input to inform the development of a blueprint for future Federal investments in this increasingly important domain.

The U.S. Government is the world’s largest single provider of Earth observations—including data and measurements collected from complex networks of satellites, ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and an array of other sophisticated tools and systems. Earth observations span land, air, sea, ice, ecosystems, and more—and address many of the multidimensional interactions among them. These observations provide information that is critical to the protection of human life and property; economic growth; national and homeland security; and scientific research. Earth-observations data that are openly shared also fuel job-creating companies and important services used across America every day, such as weather forecasts and analyses of crops and fisheries.

In April 2013, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations, setting a course to meet society’s most pressing Earth-data and information needs. Building on this Strategy, the call for input issued today will inform the development of a National Plan for Civil Earth Observations. The Plan will map out priority Federal Government activities to manage Earth-observation systems through routine assessments, improved data management, and coordinated planning. All of these activities will aim to enable stable, continuous, and coordinated Earth-observing capabilities for the benefit of society. 

To ensure the new Plan is built on diverse perspectives and the best available information and insights, we’d like to hear from you. OSTP and Federal partners will use this input to inform development of a National Plan that supports a robust, efficient, and continuous capability to collect data about our Earth.

  • Read the Request for Information posted in the Federal Register here.
  • Jump to the downloadable form for submitting input here.
  • Learn more about the National Science and Technology Council here.

Tim Stryker is Director of the US Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) Program at the National Science and Technology Council

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