Digital Earth is a concept well established since 1998, focusing on the interaction between humans and virtual representations of our world from local to global scales. More recently, this concept has gained traction as a framework for leveraging geospatial technologies for better management of our societies, environments and economies. Quoting the 2009 Beijing DE Declaration: “Digital Earth is an integral part of advanced technologies including: earth observation, geo-information systems, global positioning systems, communication networks, sensor webs, electromagnetic identifiers, virtual reality, grid computation, etc. It is seen as a global strategic contributor to scientific and technological developments, and will be a catalyst in finding solutions to international scientific and societal issues.”
The EU Earth Observation Programme Copernicus offers information services based on satellite and in situ acquired geospatial data. Open data access has greatly enhanced the potential for realizing a range of societal benefits, the Erasmus Mundus funded Joint Master Programme addresses the associated capacity building needs on a graduate level. From the above quoted document “Digital Earth plays a strategic and sustainable role in addressing challenges to human society as natural resource depletion, food and water insecurity, energy shortages, environmental degradation, natural disasters response, population explosion, and, in particular, global climate change” it is made clear that a European qualification in this field will have to address key themes like Atmosphere and Climate, Marine and Land Environments, Security and Emergency Management.
The University of Salzburg is building on its established 30 year record of educating‚ experts for a spatial view‘, and is joining forces with partners complementing its geospatial methodology foundations with key specialisation components. Olomouc University‘s leadership in geovisualisation and geocommunication, and University of South Brittany alternatively emphasizing methods in big earth data / image analytics and machine learning. Jointly, these tracks offer outstanding candidates a pathway towards excellence in advanced Geoinformatics addressing the Copernicus and Digital Earth missions and objectives.
Geospatial technologies and underlying concepts have become indispensable elements in today’s information society, location connects (‘joins’) information assets and provides the context for perceptions, decisions and actions. A lack of qualifications has been identified by multiple actors as a key bottleneck and impediment for more broadly leveraging the potential of Geoinformatics to managing our world in all its geospatial facets, including addressing Sustainable Development Goals.