TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Officials Want to Wire Earth, Check Signs

Officials Want to Wire Earth, Check Signs

Lisa Minter (
18 Apr 2005 17:22:54 -0700

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

Imagine the planet wired for a nearly continuous readout on its vital
signs, shared by all. That's the essence of a White House plan
announced Monday.

The new "Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation
System" envisions linking nearly 60 nations within a decade to gather
and share information from satellites, ocean buoys, weather stations
and other surface and airborne instruments.

"Whether it's agriculture, or land use, or water planning, or
transportation, or energy, there's a lot of data about the environment
that has to be collected," said John Marburger III, President Bush's
top science adviser.

Marburger said "a surprisingly successful enterprise" at collecting
and sharing data already is under way as the result of a United
Nations summit on sustainable development in South Africa in 2002.

Many of the measurements already are being gathered. The new effort
will focus on linking them in what Marburger called a planetary
"system of systems." He released a 150-page plan that cites benefits
such as improved weather forecasting and climate modeling, better
estimates of crop yields and energy resources, and more knowledge
about air and water quality.

As an examples of benefits, officials said better and shared data
could save the United States as much as $1 billion in electricity
costs each year if winter forecasts prove to be just 1 degree more
accurate. As much as $1.7 billion of the annual $4 billion cost of
weather-related aviation delays could be saved with better
information, they added.

Data tracking disease outbreaks such as malaria or West Nile virus
would enable officials to minimize their impact as they spread.

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, a Commerce
Department undersecretary who heads the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, said a key step is getting more businesses
involved in the project.

"This depends on a lot more people than just the government," he said.

White House strategic plan:

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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