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Public Health, Agriculture, Energy, Weather, Climate, Other Sectors Will Benefit

NOAA illustration.Nov. 28, 2006 At an international conference today in Bonn, Germany, the Group on Earth Observations introduced a vital new capability called GEONETCast. "Once fully operational, this service will put a vast range of essential environmental data at the fingertips of decision-makers and many others around the globe who might not otherwise have timely access to this information. With a 24/7 data stream, GEONETCast will provide the critical information required to protect lives and more effectively manage a world of resources," said José Achache, director of the GEO Secretariat. (Click NOAA illustration for larger view. Please credit “NOAA.”)

With contributions from many nations and organizations, GEONETCast is a cooperative effort being organized by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, or EUMETSAT, the United States, China and the World Meteorological Organization. "GEONETCast is a milestone in the exciting and growing Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). As an interconnected global network of near real-time regional dissemination systems, GEONETCast will link environmental data providers and users across the globe." said Lars Prahm, EUMETSAT Director General.

GEO is providing an international framework in which participating governments and organizations will cooperatively implement GEOSS. With 66 countries, the European Commission and 43 international organizations, GEO is leading a worldwide effort to design a "system of systems" that, just as the planet, will work in an integrated fashion. Working with and building upon existing national, regional and international systems, GEOSS will yield a broad range of basic societal benefits, including the reduction of loss of life and property from tsunamis, hurricanes and other natural disasters; improved water resource and energy management; and improved understanding of environmental factors significant to public health. With a global capacity, GEONETCast will be one of the key data dissemination systems within GEOSS.

Through GEONETCast, data about disease, agriculture, biodiversity, natural disasters, air and water quality, ocean conditions, ecosystems and much more will be broadcast in free or low-cost, near real-time, user-friendly formats. "GEONETCast will help us take the pulse of the planet. This global service will provide steady access to data needed to better understand the links between the environment and important sectors such as public health. Integrating environmental data with data about disease vectors, pollutants, rainfall and sea surface temperature, for instance, can help in predicting, mitigating and even preventing health threats before they become a crisis," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. Lautenbacher is GEO co-chair for the United States.

During the GEO conference in Bonn, a presentation showed how South Africa receives data that precisely measure vegetation activity across the country. Gathered by satellites and broadcast by GEONETCast 24x7, the information is critical to food security. The information also can be applied to mitigating disasters from drought, wildfires and floods and monitoring both air and water pollution patterns and outbreaks of diseases such as malaria and meningitis. As one example, sites of schools and villages where people need to be vaccinated can be identified. South African GEO co-chair, Phil Mjwara, who is the Director General of the country's Department of Science and Technology, said, "Connection to a global Earth observation network is crucial for Africa because it allows for faster policy responses and decision-making."

Guoguang Zheng, deputy administrator, China Meteorological Administration and GEO co-chair for China, said that, "GEONETCast is creating a new opportunity, especially for developing countries, to easily access data important to social benefit areas for free or at low-cost and in near real-time. We are sure that more and more countries and organizations will make great contributions to building GEOSS and GEONETCast in the coming years."

Zoran Stancic, GEO co-chair from the European Commission, added that, "In Europe, we are extremely pleased with this flagship example of global co-operation in the GEO framework. It has enormous potential for the implementation of European policies in the domain of the environment, climate and sustainable development. We are also proud that the system is based on an existing European system run by EUMETSAT to broadcast weather and environmental data."

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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Media Contact:
Madelyn Appelbaum, NOAA, (202) 482 4858