IGARSS 2010 - 2010 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium - July 25 - 30, 2010 - Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Community Remote Sensing

An International Community Remote Sensing Collaboration

The Organizing Committee of the 2010 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) is sponsoring a novel project exploring the emerging field of community remote sensing and invites your participation.

What is Community Remote Sensing?

Remote sensing is the sensing or collection of information ‘from a distance’. Community remote sensing is a new field that combines remote sensing with citizen science, social networks, and crowd-sourcing to enhance the data obtained from traditional sources. It includes the collection, calibration, analysis, communication, or application of remotely sensed information by these community means.

The Earth information needs of our society are vast. Until now, we have relied on government-sponsored satellites and observing systems as the foundation for this information. The rapid emergence of citizen science and social networks introduces an exciting new means for augmenting this knowledge.

IGARSS 2010 will spotlight this emerging field with a plenary session entirely dedicated to the topic, supporting the conference theme “Remote Sensing: Global Vision for Local Action”. During the year leading up to the plenary, the Organizing Committee is identifying and highlighting existing projects that embody the plenary theme. Participating projects, selected for their promise to create either new knowledge or new technologies associated with community remote sensing, are highlighted here on the website (see links in table below). Progress is being tracked throughout the year, and results will be presented during the IGARSS 2010 plenary session. Plenary speakers will be selected from major organizations that reflect public sector, private sector, academia, and NGO perspectives on community remote sensing.

The Vision for Community Remote Sensing

Information technologies will provide the foundation for society’s rapid progress in the 21st century. Information about the environment (both natural and human-built) is central to this progress. The enormity of the required undertaking – observing and understanding our world at all space and time scales – takes your breath away.

Accomplishing it will be enabled in part by citizens who contribute to ‘remotely sensed’ versions of the world around them. Governments will depend on such information to understand local details of climate change and respond to natural disasters. The private sector will use it to build online maps and virtual worlds that make commerce more efficient and accessible. Within just a decade or so, the influence of community remote sensing will be as profound for understanding our Earth as the satellite revolution has been over the last five decades.

If you are working in this area, your participation in the Collaboration will benefit both your project and the greater community. Further information, including a detailed description of the Collaboration, can be obtained from the Conference Plenary Chair Bill Gail (plenarychair@igarss2010.org, 1.303.513.5474). Limited funding may be available to help support selected projects.


Each project is described in more detail on this website. Just follow the link to learn more. Please use the opportunity to contribute to the associated charitable organizations – see our geospatially-oriented charitable organizations page for a summary!

The charitable contributions site is provided courtesy of Donor2Deed and illustrates the ability of community remote sensing to enhance humanitarian and charitable work. The map-based Donor2Deed site enables charitable projects, no matter how remotely located, to give potential donors a new sense for what the project is accomplishing and its impact on local areas/people - through use of remotely sensed imagery, including satellite- and community-collected imagery.

NameLead OrganizationBrief Description
Web Tools for Wheat Farming in Mexico’s Yaqui Valley Stanford University Web tools for gathering user feedback on remote sensing data sources
Virtual Disaster Viewer ImageCat, Inc. Web tools for shared analysis to support natural disaster response
GeoWiki Project International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Wiki tools for remote sensing imagery analysis
The NatureMapping Program Biodiversity Inventory Project University of Washington Community-based observational sampling of ecological habitats to validate and refine centralized databases of remotely sensed data.
Participatory Sensing Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) at UCLA Citizen use of mobile phones and associated web services to gather imagery and related information for "participatory" environmental monitoring, with applications such as invasive species.
Fire Alert System & Fire Risk System Conservation International Community-based tools to augment real-time satellite monitoring of forest fires, illegal logging, and encroachment
Vehicle Data Translator National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Use of personal automobiles for collecting weather data to augment centralized weather observing systems
NEPTUNE: Data from the Deep – Judgments from the Crowds University of Victoria Community-contributed quality control, validation, and analysis of networked ocean sensor data.
Coral Reef Habitat Mapping: Enabling Community Mapping and Monitoring University of Queensland Geo-referenced photo transects of coral reefs by individual Fijian and Cook Islanders to augment satellite imagery.
Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Program American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Use of citizens to interpret satellite imagery and extract information relevant to human rights activities in their countries.
Indigenous Remote Sensing Collaborative (IRSC) Indigenous Mapping Network Community remote sensing tools that advance the contribution of indigenous peoples to Earth information
Journal of Earth Science Phenomena None - run by volunteers A venue for rapid peer-review-quality publication of community remote sensing work
Digital Earth Watch and Picture Post Network University of New Hampshire A community network and simple sensor platform for systematic monitoring of local environmental conditions
GISCorps - distributed quick reaction image and GIS analysis of Cyclone Nargis in Burma GISCorps Volunteer GIS and remote sensing activities, including both deployed and virtual support, applied to assist with the Cyclone Nargis humanitarian response.
Towards a World Forest Observatory Resources for the Future Wiki-based community remote sensing tools for performing a fine-scale global census of forest attributes
Air Twitter Washington University in St. Louis, as part of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners Use of commercial social networks to ‘discover’ air quality events for remote sensing analysis
IRAQ Operational Agricultural Monitoring Project Global Marketing Insights, Inc. Community-based processes for augmenting centralized geospatial intelligence capabilities
GTZ Disaster Risk Management Projects German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Community-based input to create natural disaster risk maps
Field Photo Library University of Oklahoma Posting and sharing of community-contributed field photos
AfricaMap United Nations Institute for Training and Research Community tools for deriving map data from satellite imagery


Legal and Policy Issues Associated With Community Remote Sensing Kevin D. Pomfret LeClairRyan
Emerging Challenges with Managing CRS Data Arcot (Raja) Rajasekar University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Latest News about the Collaboration

21 July 2009Collaboration announced at IGARSS 2009 in Capetown
25 Sept 2009First projects posted

Related Fields

Community remote sensing is closely related to several other fields receiving considerable attention today, including citizen science, citizens as sensors, volunteered geographic information, community mapping, and more. In some cases these fields are distinct but related; in others there is clear overlap. Click here for links to both for-profit and not-for-profit activities in these related areas.

©2017 Conference Management Services, Inc. »« email: webmaster@igarss2010.org »« Last updated Tuesday, July 27, 2010