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Satellite view opens to all

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

An app selected for a $4.2 million Google Earth program will enable citizen scientists to use satellite data to monitor environmental change. 

An online remote sensing application developed by James Cook University’s Dr Nicholas Murray was selected to join the international Group on Earth Observations (GEO) - Google Earth Engine (GEE) partnership to improve access to satellite data.

“Remote sensing is a vital tool for monitoring changes to Earth’s natural environments, but is typically only accessible to experts, governments or academic researchers.

“Our free and open-access app provides fast and easy access to this critical tool, empowering citizen scientists to map and monitor changes to natural ecosystems around the world,” said Dr Murray.

He said Remap app (https://remap-app.org) allows rapid analyses of Landsat data, the longest continuous space-based record of changes to the earth’s surface. The app uses Google Earth Engine’s algorithms, data catalogue and computing power, allowing users to make maps in minutes.

“If someone wanted to map illegal deforestation in a protected area in say, Indonesia or Madagascar, over the last 20 years, they can now do that easily and for free. Only a few years ago it would have been a difficult, time-consuming and expensive exercise that could only be conducted by appropriately trained scientists,” said Dr Murray.

Dr Murray said a partnership between the Group on Earth Observations and Google Earth Engine recently selected 32 projects from 22 countries to receive $4.2 million in support to further develop software that delivers data, insights and findings crucial to decision makers worldwide.   

“We will now have technical support, mentoring and ongoing capacity development to help us advance Remap and continue to improve its utility for a broader range of users. Ultimately, we hope fast and free access to remote sensing tools will catalyse improved conservation of the world’s threatened ecosystems,” he said.

Gilberto Camara, GEO Secretariat Director said the group’s projects will help GEO fulfil its global mission to improve access to decision-making satellite data.

Remap is available for free here. 

Images produced by Remap are available here.

Contact:

Dr Nicholas Murray (Townsville)
M: 0414 815 788
Enicholas.murray@jcu.edu.au

Details of Remap are available in the scientific paper published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Further information is available at Dr Murray’s lab website