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To benefit society by promoting the development and realization of Digital Earth


The 12th International Symposium on Digital Earth

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The 12th International Symposium on Digital Earth (ISDE12) was successfully held in a hybrid format (on-site in Salzburg, Austria and online) from 6 to 8 July, 2021. ISDE12 was organized by the International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE) and hosted by Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS, University of Salzburg, Austria. With the theme of “Digital Earth for Sustainable Societies”, this event has brought policy makers and scientists to explore pathways towards the vision of a ‘Digital Earth’. The ISDE12 was held within the traditional GI-Forum week of the Salzburg University. More than 700 participants attended the hybrid event both on-site and online. In addition, 14 partners (Media/Technology) and sponsors contributed to this event.


In the morning of 6th of July, the opening ceremony was held in the Audimax, NAWI campus of the University. Prof. Josef Strobl and Prof. Thomas Blaschke kicked off the ISDE opening ceremony. Dr. Heinz Faßmann, the Minister of Science and Education of Austria, delivered a welcome speech to participants to ISD12. The ISDE President, Dr. Alessandro Annoni introduced the International Society for Digital Earth and its ongoing activities. The ISDE Honorary President, Prof. Huadong Guo, delivered a special speech on Digital Technology Facilitates SDGs: An Introduction to the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS). Then two keynote presentations were given. Dr. Martin Visbeck from GEOMAR Helmholtz Ocean Research Kiel of Germany presented "Digital Twins of the Ocean" - Opportunities to connect science to society, and Prof. Ryosuke Shibasaki from University of Tokyo gave a talk on "supporting the Use of Telecom Data to Inform the COVID-19 Response Efforts with Open Source Software.




In the afternoon of July 6, a session “International Perspectives” dedicated to the global views on Digital Earth was chaired by Dr Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse, Vice President of ISDE. The session invited speakers from Australia, India, China, EU, Africa Union and representatives of AmeriGEO to give a report on the continental scale achievement in Digital Earth. Key messages from the session was collaboration amongst the continent through global initiatives such as GEO, UNGGIM, UNSDGs are fruitful. Respective Digital Earth initiatives are not only covering the technology and data but are also focusing on ethics and governance perspective. It was also noted that the concept of open data, open source , open technology was key factor underpinning the success of Digital Earth initiatives.  Finally, it was great to notices the use of Digital Earth supporting the UN SDGs.



On the second day, keynotes on “Digital Earth as enabler of Transformational Change for a Sustainable Planet” (Prof. Graciela Metternicht), “An Assessment of Urbanization between 1990 and 2015 Using Land Use Efficiency Indicators” (Dr. Zhongchang Sun), “Earth Observations & SDGs: Tools for Policymakers and Practitioners”(Dr. Argyro Kavvada), “A Multi-Stakeholder Approach for Digital Earth to Address Development Priorities and the SDGs in Africa and the Pacific” (Dr. Aditya Agrawal), “Openess and Digital Earth: the Two Companions for Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals” (Dr. Maria Brovelli), “Digital Twins: a new pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” (Dr. Marc Paganini) were delivered at ISDE12. Dr. Eva Ivits, Dr. Gregory Giuliani, Prof. Hiromichi Fukui and Dr. Lixia Chu also gave interesting brief flash talks on SDG development.




During the three days, five special forums of “Destination Earth Forum”, “GeoHumanitarian Action”, “Digital Twins Forum for a Sustainable Planet”, “Data Driven Intelligence Forum”, and “Youth Forum” were organized, attracting quite a lot of attendees and wide discussions. The Youth Forum engaged the youth to design and leverage Digital Earth models to improve livelihoods around the planet, and this forum attracted a lot of young participants with video competitions, Inspiring Girls Expeditions, Covid Impressions & Climate Action, etc. The Panel discussion on Digital Earth: from a vision to frameworks and solutions and the round table discussions on “digital twins of the earth implementations” and "Openness of digital earth for SDG stakeholders" led to wide attention and discussions. Digital Earth special session on “co-create ‘future proof’ today for a more sustainable tomorrow” by Sven Schade and Dr. Luis Perez-Mora was organized, which is also the part of activities of Working Group 4 - Citizen Engagement and Empowerment in Digital Earth of the International Society for Digital Earth. Research papers submitted to the symposium were also invited to be presented.


On 5th July, just one day before the Symposium, workshops were organized on “Automated global land cover disturbance monitoring using BFAST0N”, “Digital Heritage, Local Identity and Community Development post-COVID”, “Where to from here? Supporting Industry engagement with the SDGs (ISDE WG2 and WG3)”, and “Earth-observation analysis utilising newly developed semantic Earth observation data cubes”.


At the closing session on the third day, Dr. Lawrie Jorden from ESRI and the GEO Secretariat Director, Ms. Yana Gevorgyan gave keynote presentations. Then, ISDE vice president, Dr. Mario Hernandez made a summary of three days symposium. The Youth Forum Leader Ms. Stephanie Tumampos reported three days discussion of the young scientists and students. At the end, the ISDE President, Dr. Alessandro Annoni presented virtual award to appreciate Thumampos’ contributions to the ISDE12, and also presented physical awards to Prof. Josef Strobl and Thomas Blaschke for their leading role and tremendous work on the successful ISDE symposium. Dr. Alessandro Annoni also announced Ms. Perizat Imanalieva as the Young Scientist Video Competition winner; the 9th Digital Earth Summit will be held in Chennai, India in 2022, the 13th International Symposium on Digital Earth in Athen, Greece, in 2023, and the 10th Digital Earth Summit in Rwanda in 2024. Welcome all of attendees to participate in these ISDE events.