School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences




Frequently Asked Questions



What do we mean by Earth observation?. 2

Why is the EO Network necessary?. 2

Is EONet meant to be a new professional or learned society?. 2

So what is so different about the EONet?. 2

How can it operate with no membership fee?. 2

What are the benefits of being a member of EON?. 2

Why use LinkedIn?. 2

Why use Skype?. 3

Why use GoogleVideo?. 3

How will the virtual conferences and workshops operate?. 3


What do we mean by Earth observation?

The term Earth Observation is now in widespread use but is normally restricted to describing measurements of the Earth from satellites. More recently, however, the Group on Earth Observations has broadened this term to include “…the collection, processing, modelling, and dissemination of data about the Earth system… collected through in situ, airborne and space-based observations, using satellites, buoys, seismometers, and other devices.”  The EO Network embraces this broad definition. 

Note, however, that Earth observation is often used synonymously with the term “remote sensing” which can be defined as the science of measuring or inferring the physical properties of an object or medium, using a sensor that is at some distance from the object or medium. Typically, both terms are used to describe measurements of electromagnetic radiation scattered or emitted from the Earth’s atmosphere or surface using instruments on aircraft or satellites. A more general definition would also include measurements of acoustic waves, magnetic fields and gravity.  Remote sensing might also encompass measurements of other planets or moons in the solar system using interplanetary probes, whereas Earth observation implies a restricted consideration of planet Earth alone. 

Why is the EO Network necessary? 

Earth observation is a diverse and increasingly ubiquitous aspect of environmental and Earth sciences.  Researchers and professionals in this field (particularly in the UK) have no specialised forum or community aspect that encompasses the breadth of topics covered.  Most individuals find this sense of community through special interest groups in larger learned societies, but these are often small, focused groups that lack the broad interdisciplinarity that EO thrives upon. None of the national or international societies attracts membership across all the disciplines now active in Earth observation.  

Is EONet meant to be a new professional or learned society?

EONet is a new model in science community-building and is a complement, rather than an alternative, to existing societies.

The increasing diversity of (free) web-based services and the prevalence of electronic media mean that the traditional concept of a discipline-specific society is becoming outdated. While they still maintain a role of prestige, publication and regulation (e.g. “professional” status), their role in community building, information distribution and as forums for discussion is being superseded by networking sites, virtual conferencing and mobile technologies.

So what is so different about the EONet?

Membership of EONet will be free of charge. There will only be individual members, not groups or organisations. All members will receive the same benefits and opportunities.   It is a virtual networking community, rather than an organisation.  Membership is restricted only by your access to the internet.

How can it operate with no membership fee?

Apart from a centrally maintained (with minimal local content) website, there are no other overheads. There will be no member database, no administrative costs to deal with fee payments.  The benefits will arise from a combination of freely available resources on the web, and the network of members themselves.   The value of EONet is governed by the quality of the member input.

What are the benefits of being a member of EON?

By combining centrally generated news items and RSS feeds with appropriate filters (for example,“earth observation”-related news from the BBC will be displayed) on a website, EONet will provide a one-stop “news hub” for Earth observation.  The website will also offer “constrained” google searching to facilitate finding useful material on the web as well as standard links to the most popular EO sites.

By using LinkedIn as the primary membership mechanism (through the use of their “groups” facility) EONet will provide all members with a link to all other members plus their wider network of connections (see below).  

By using Skype as the main mechanism for member interactivity (using their “group” facility), EONet will provide members with a forum to chat (up to 100 members at a time) or Skypecast audio (see below).

By using GoogleVideo, EONet will be able to provide embedded streaming video clips.  Clips may include agency videos, interviews, meeting reports, etc.  Sponsors, organisations and individuals would also be invited to contribute. 

By combing the functionality of Skype and GoogleVideo, EONet will also allow for time-limited “virtual conferences/workshops”.

All of these benefits will be free of charge to all users.

Why use LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an online network of more than 11 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries.

When you join, you create a profile that helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you.

You will have your own network consisting of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to thousands of qualified professionals.

Through your network you can:

  • Find potential subject experts, collaborators, employers and service providers, who come recommended, or be found by others.
  • Search for great jobs, studentships or postdoctoral and faculty positions.
  • Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and complete projects.
  • Post and distribute job listings
  • Get introduced to other professionals through the people you know.


LinkedIn is free to join. They also offer paid accounts that give you more tools for finding and reaching the right people, whether or not they are in your network.

The EONet utilises the “LinkedIn Groups” facility which allows you to

  • See a list of all your fellow EONet members
  • Search within your group for vital new contacts
  • Use special contact settings to communicate directly with fellow members
  • Accelerate your career through referrals from group members


LinkedIn makes its money from targeted site-based advertising and paid accounts. They do no spam you nor forward your details to third parties.

Find more information on LinkedIn at

Why use Skype?

Skype is free and easy to use. It offers chat and webcast functionality. It provides a “group” facility that would allow users to be part of an EONet “group”.   Skype will allows virtual conferences and workshops to have interactive discussions online.

Why use GoogleVideo?

Google Video allows you to upload videos for public viewing. There is no time limit on videos and videos are “streamed” (meaning you don’t need to download the whole video to start watching it).  Videos can also be embedded in webpages.  This will allow members to view EO-related videos and to generate video content for virtual conferences and workshops.

Here are some examples….


How will the virtual conferences and workshops operate?

Virtual conferences would work as time-limited events using pre-recorded video or narrated PPT.   These would be loaded in GoogleVideo but viewed from the EON Conference page.  Opportunities for Q&A, breakout groups or further discussion would be conducted via Skype (either as Chat or Skypecasting). 

By hosting virtual meetings, EONet will;

  • increase the audience base for your presentations by allowing people to “dip into” only those talks that are of interest, without making a substantial commitment to attending a physical event.
  • allow you to make your most up-to-date results available online.
  • open access to international participants, especially from developing countries.
  • be a showcase for up-and-coming talent.


The success of online events will be very much dependent upon member contributions. If you want to organise an online event, please contact Iain Woodhouse.