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About Public Health Surveillance


Public health alerts on air quality, outbreaks of disease carried by water-borne vectors, and assessments of access to health facilities are informed by Earth observations and help to achieve SDG Goal 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing.


GEO will advocate the value of Earth observations, engage communities and deliver data and information in support of Public Health Surveillance by yielding insight into the threat of vector-borne and environmentally-linked diseases, taking into account impacts of climate change; in order to promote a substantial reduction in the number of fatalities and illnesses from infectious diseases, environmental pollution and health risks, through raising public awareness and supporting policy making and management with accurate monitoring and early warning at local, national, regional and global levels.

Summary description of 2016 Plans

The 2016 activities will address the following topics

  • Access to improved environmental information and tools to support the global community of human health and environment experts.
  • Increased use of environmental information and tools to support decision making in epidemics and/or disease management and planning for well-being.
  • Examine and integrate current real-time 24-hour average and annual average modeling, calculations and techniques to optimize efficient use of data sources and platforms.
  • Establish robust working teams in at least three topic areas: weather and climate extremes (e.g., heat); water-related illness (e.g., cholera); and vector borne disease (e.g., dengue, malaria). The teams will identify and engage health partners and clarify health needs; address training needs; identify and address; observation and prediction gaps and needs; and establish work plans with the goal of having at least one prototype system in place for each topic area by 2020.
  • Further develop and implement integration of air quality monitoring, related estimation and modeling protocols optimizing both remote sensing and in-situ platforms, including small sensors with the goal of providing improved information for use in public health assessment tools.
  • Focus on the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Global Burden of Disease (GBD) estimates, in particular those related to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, with the goal of providing results of sufficient granularity at a scale useful to citizens, communities and decision makers.

About Health

  • Changes in the natural environment can compromise human health. Droughts may lead to malnutrition and life-threatening forest fires. Dust storms and smog often cause respiratory illnesses. Algal blooms contaminate seafood. Climate change and extreme weather events are associated with a wide range of health risks. Emerging infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Lyme appear to be linked to land-use changes that have opened up previously hidden pathways for disease transmission.
  • The Group on Earth Observations is working with the Health community to improve the flow of user-friendly environmental data. Comprehensive data sets support prevention, early warning, research, health-care planning and delivery, and timely public alerts.
  • Gathered and distributed through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, these Earth observation data contribute to improving our understanding of how the environment affects human health and well-being. Key variables include airborne, marine, and water pollutants; stratospheric ozone depletion; land-use change; persistent organic pollutants; food security and nutrition; noise levels; weather-related stresses and disease vectors; and many others.
  • For example, remote-sensing observations of weather, land and ocean parameters can now be used to predict outbreaks or trends in infectious diseases such as meningitis, malaria and cholera. Such data need to be readily available to public health workers in a format that they can use.
  • The GEO Secretariat Experts responsible for Health are Doug Cripe.

Related Work Programmme Activities


GEO Flagship

Global Observation System for Mercury (GOS4M)


GEO Initiatives


GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGLOWS)

Global Observation System for Persistent Organic Pollutants (GOS4POPS)

Global Urban Observation and Information


Community Activities

Airnow International: Expanding Networks and Integrating Methods for Air Quality and Health Data

Earth Observations for Health (EO4HEALTH)

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Early Warning System

Cross Cutting Activities


GEO Initiatives

AfriGEOSS: Reinforcing Regional African Engagement


Asia-Oceania GEOSS (AOGEOSS)

Earth Observations in Service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


GEO Carbon and GHG Initiative


Oceans and Society: Blue Planet


Community Activities

Access to climate data in GEOSS

Advancing Communication Networks

Citizen Observatories and Crowdsourcing

Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)

Data Analysis and Integration System (DIAS)


GFCS - GEO Collaboration

Himalayan GEOSS

Research Data Science Summer Schools

Socio-Economic Benefits of Earth Observations

Space and Security

Synergized Multi-Source Remote Sensing Products and Services

Contact person in the GEO Secretariat

Secretariat Expert: Douglas Cripe -