WG4- Citizen Engagement and Empowerment in Digital Earth


Sven Schade (European Commission JRC, s.schade@ec.europa.eu)

Luis Perez-Mora (Thrive Care Systems Australia, Australia, luis.perez.au@gmail.com)


1. Scope

Ultimately all our actions should contribute to the well-being of society, and in this context the engagement of citizen is increasingly recognized (also on a political level) as a key ingredient for success. In the context of digital transformation and the ever evolving Digital Earth vision, this highly relevant because (1) it implements the requests for inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary; and (2) ensures that we put the people at the center of our activities. Without such an approach, we are at the risk to over-emphasize technocratic viewpoints and to ultimately develop solutions that are disconnected from real societal needs.

Following this line of thinking, we (ISDE) is challenged with the question "How can Digital Earth empower people to improve social and planetary well-being?". WG4 is set up to investigate this question, and thereby to help strengthening the Digital Earth vision and its applications for future generations.


2. Objectives and Methodology

WG4 will pay particular attention to the exploration of practices and emerging forms of participatory governance models, with a particular view to the role of Digital Earth technology.

The work of WG4 will be carried out in the following ways:

(1) Being inclusive on membership and the definition of our activities - everybody is welcome, and we encourage diversity in terms of culture, occupation, research field, age, gender, etc.

(2) Building on the existing networks and communities that deal with different facets of citizen engagement and empowerment across the globe - following an approach in which we attract interactions between so far disconnected communities of practice by investigating issues of common concern from the multiple perspectives that we all bring to the table.

(3) Organizing dedicated events to discuss the most pressing questions, and identify best practices - beginning with a session at the ISDE Summit 2020 in which we table some of the existing controversies.

(4) Reflecting on the multiple inputs and stimulation received in order to break down the most important research questions, challenges, and future scenarios - including the transparent provision of all material that we use and create, either on the ISDE web page or in associated journals.

3. Activities

(1) The session “Digital Earth – co-create ‘future proof’ today for a more sustainable tomorrow” was organized at the 12th International Symposium on Digital Earth, and had a lively discussion. The brief summary was below:
The worlds of classical GIS and remote sensing becomes increasingly connected with the game industry - in a way that (4D) data becomes accessible to technologies and infrastructure used in digital games, including massive collaborative online games, such a mind craft and others.
This offers huge opportunities to engage with and empower people at scale (e.g. using digital twins) but also requests for the responsible design of the used data spaces, engagement approaches and game platforms – to avoid exclusion of particular societal groups, the misuse of data, vendor lock-in, etc.
The time is right to bring together representatives of civil society, the private and the public sector, and academia to discuss not only the emerging ethical and legal requirements but also co-create ‘future proof’ game-based solutions for a more sustainable tomorrow.

(2) WG4 will take further steps in collaboration with WG 2 “Industry Engagement for Digital Earth” and WG 3 “Digital Earth Governance and Ethics”.

(3) Alongside these works, WG4 is taking action to interconnect ISDE with intermediaries and champions of citizen engagement across the globe. This work includes awareness raising within ISDE and within international communities - with a particular emphasize on required capacities and skills.

(4) WG4 is always open to take additional ideas on board. Feel free to approach the co-chairs at any time.