Message from ISDE President


Dear ISDE Colleagues,

On the occasion of the arrival of the 2017 New Year, I am very pleased to send all of you my sincere season’s greetings and warm wishes. 

Since the Halifax Council meeting in October 2015, ISDE has experienced a fruitful year, full of achievements and progress. I would like to take this opportunity to review with you all.

ISDE has adjusted its organizational structure to make the governance more centralized and efficient. From July 5th to 6th, just before the 6th Digital Earth Summit, the Bureau Meeting and Council Meeting were held, respectively, where a Bureau with 7 members and a Council with 16 members were formed. The Bureau is engaged to manage ISDE and guide the established Committees, and the Council focuses more on scientific aspects and the strategic plans of the society. I do believe that with our full dedication ISDE will definitely open another new page in history.

As an important event of ISDE, the 6th Digital Earth Summit was successfully convened in Beijing from July 7th to 8th. With the theme of “Digital Earth in the Era of Big Data”, this Summit served as a platform for broad communication about advanced Digital Earth science and technology and deep discussions on the new opportunities and challenges that Digital Earth encounters in the era of big data. More than 300 delegates including scientists, engineers, technologists, and administrators from about 30 countries attended the Summit.

This year marks ten years since the establishment of ISDE, and the 10th anniversary was celebrated during the 2016 Summit. To commend those persons who have made special contributions to advancing the development of Digital Earth and the Society, 7 awards and honorary titles, including ISDE Fellow, were given to scientists during an award ceremony for their outstanding contribution and performance.

On July 6th, a proposal establishing a scientific network with the Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) Initiative was approved at the Council meeting. With support from GEO, CODATA, GSDI, OGC, ICIMOD, UTM, Neogeography R&D Group, and Technopark Protvino, ISDE successfully received approval for a proposal establishing a Digital Belt and Road Scientific Alliance with financial support. This means ISDE has built up the ability to collaborate with a broad range of international organizations to implement scientific and technical research and provide support for sustainable development at regional and global scales.

ISDE has increasingly built a broad range of networks with other international organizations. At its Halifax Council meeting, ISDE and GSDI signed an MOU in a joint ceremony to work towards cooperation for their mutual benefit. ISDE continues its partnership with CODATA for future work with Earth observation data and the Digital Earth platform. ISDE also signed a MOU with the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE), which will potentially strengthen the linkage between the two organizations and make it possible for ISDE events to be held in Africa in the future.

In addition, ISDE co-organized several international conferences with other organizations. From April 20th to 22nd, Interexpo GEO-Siberia-2016 was held in Novosibirsk, Russia, during which ISDE co-hosted a seminar on “Digital Earth’s role in sustainable development of territories influenced by significant global climate change”. From September 19th to 21st, ISDE co-organized the 3rd International Symposium on Earth Observation for Arid and Semi-Arid Environments (ISEO) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Following that, ISDE participated in the 13th Plenary Meeting of GEO in St. Petersburg, Russia, from November 9th to 10th, and had the honor of organizing one of the 21 official side events before the Plenary Meeting. From October 24th to 28th, ISDE co-sponsored the 11th International Conference of AARSE in Kampala, Uganda, and was introduced to scientists in Africa.

I am also happy to inform you that with the ISDE secretariat’s great efforts, the Executive Board meeting of the International Council for Science (ICSU) admitted ISDE’s application to join ICSU as an International Scientific Associate. So far ICSU has received enough (more than the 9 minimum) support letters from its national and union members to support ISDE’s application. We shall hopefully get the final approval at the General Assembly of ICSU next year.

With the excellent publishing performance of the International Journal of Digital Earth (IJDE), ISDE is preparing to publish another international academic journal, named Big Earth Data. This new journal will publish research and valuable datasets related to “big data” studies of the Earth sciences. The international editorial board has been under construction and the inauguration issue of Big Earth Data is proposed to be published in October 2017.

With ten years of development, ISDE has built up an influential academic platform and a wide international network. However, we should admit that ISDE still faces many challenges. Coming into the era of big data, the huge amounts of geospatial data as well as socio-economic data should take full advantage of Digital Earth in response to global change, disaster prevention and mitigation, new energy development, urbanization, agricultural food safety, and so on. Meanwhile, it also requires great effort to advance technologies related to Digital Earth and enhance international cooperation in data sharing, processing, and analyzing and data-intensive knowledge discovery. In 2015, the UN initiated 17 Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) aiming to end poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. It provides an opportunity as well as a challenge for Digital Earth to provide technical support for a monitoring system for implementing the SDGs through an integrative platform with open, timely and reliable data related to Earth. This coincides well with the mission of ISDE and will become the highest priority for us to make an effort to benefit society and our planet.

Entering the year 2017, ISDE shall take many actions to proactively explore the way forward. We need to formulate strategic plans to enable ISDE to move ahead and to guide our actions to realize our vision: great efforts should be made to guarantee the 10th International Symposium on Digital Earth will be successfully held in Australia; it is necessary to review and improve our Society’s Statutes and Bylaws, to amplify Committees and formulate relevant rules, and to establish Commissions and Working Groups; more National/Regional Committees and Chapters should be set up to encourage them to play an important role in spreading the Digital Earth vision; Digital Earth programs should be initiated and the Digital Belt and Road Scientific Alliance should be promoted; ISDE membership should be increased, especially scientific corporate members; ISDE needs to explore different ways to get more financial support or sponsors to carry out its actions; we should collaborate with key international bodies that, together with us, enhance the Digital Earth vision and framework to promote sustainable development, for example, exploring the development of ISDE in Africa through collaboration with AARSE; ISDE needs to involve more young scientists, who will form the basis for our future growth; and also we should keep the increasing stature of IJDE and through it drive the new journal, Big Earth Data.

I really hope that all ISDE colleagues can be solidly devoted to the constructive development and innovative exploitation of ISDE. ISDE shall serve as an academic Society leading frontier research on Digital Earth as well as a powerful practitioner that uses Digital Earth to benefit society and the planet we live on. I sincerely invite you, my ISDE colleagues to join me to work together for the implementation of the Digital Earth vision and to create a flourishing future for our Society in a united and harmonious environment.


Guo Huadong


President, International Society for Digital Earth