IZG, GI science and remote sensing teaching and training for sustainable development

© Rmatt — CC BY-SA 3.0

1) Short description of your organisation

Earth Observation research and teaching activities are a fundamental part of the Geomatics Research Group (GRG) of the Institute of Geography at the Ruhr-University of Bochum, where more than 70 scientists and 1,400 students are involved in the research and teaching of ecosystem services, in the relation of cognition and cartographic representation, in social disparities within cities, in the economic development of regions as well as in the transformation of the metropolitan region.

Remote sensing activities are mainly focussed on urban areas to identify urban building structures, urban green and blue infrastructure and valuable economic targets etc. and their changes over time. Associated to that is an interest in environmental justice and the combined analysis of socio-economic and image data. The Big Data sources of satellite images require methodological approaches with artificial intelligence technology (Head: Dr Carsten Jürgens, Professor for Remote Sensing/Earth Observation). The research and teaching activities of the recently established new working group of Interdisciplinary Geoinformation Science focuses on the spatiotemporal modelling of the transformation of metropolitan regions, the interdisciplinary integration of geodata and the analysis of (near-real-time) geoinformation. The working group contributes mainly to the clusters of “Resilient Cities” and “Smart Cities” by modelling and monitoring of human-environmental interactions. With the help of AI models light is shed on the socioeconomic and geobiophysical driving forces of complex urban systems as well as the relation of decision-making processes, the spatially-explicit land-use configuration and their socio-ecological impacts. Associated is the exploration of volunteered geographic information and citizen science adding value to the monitoring of human-environment interactions within metropolitan regions. Another focus is on studies dealing with the applicability of (near real-time) geoinformation to foster interdisciplinary STEM competencies on education for sustainable development (Head: Dr Andreas Rienow, Professor for Interdisciplinary Geoinformation Science). The GRG plays a major role within the recently established RUB Interdisciplinary Centre for Geoinformation (IZG)

Logo of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Geoinformation (IZG) at the Ruhr-University of Bochum

2) Can you give us some examples of the work that you have done to help with EO/GIS Skills?

The Geomatics Research Group currently is involved in several projects dealing with teaching and training on GI science and remote sensing for sustainable development. The projects are funded by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Federal Ministries (BMWi, BMBF) the European Space Agency (ESA), and European Commission (EC). They deal with mobile learning and Augmented Reality (“KEPLER ISS”, DLR/BMWi), development of MOOCs (“EO College”, DLR/BMWi; “MOOC4Land”, ESA, “EO CONNECT”, BMBF), as well as innovative interactive learning teaching training (LTT) concepts and e-learning resources (“ESERO Germany”, ESA, “EO4Edu”, EC). The projects are carried out together with partners from universities in Edinburgh (UK), Thessaloniki (GR), Prague (CZ), Wageningen (NL), Jena, Bonn, and Cologne (DE). They also emphasize a strong exchange with several education-oriented SMEs and institutions all abroad Europe. In terms of Interdisciplinary Geographic Information Science, one project is carried out with the objective to develop a participatory approach for sustainable environmental monitoring and management of the Muringato sub-basin in central Kenya. Based on the preliminary work of the African partner (the Institute of Geomatics, GIS & Remote Sensing of the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Nairobi, KEN), the project aims to develop an inventory of groundwater sources in the catchment area with the help of remote sensing, GIS and crowd mapping based surveys. With a long-term perspective, the BMBF funded project is establishing a research partner group for alumni who did their PhD at a German university.

3) What are your future plans to support EO/GIS Skills?

We are currently carrying out several projects dealing with the development of easy-to-use processing techniques with accompanying teaching resources. The resources are interactive and make use of innovative approaches. With the help of e-learning and m-learning topics of dynamic, coupled human-environment systems are covered with i) Augmented Reality apps dealing with desertification, algal bloom, and extreme weather events, ii) massive open online courses on land cover change, radar remote sensing, and SDG 2 “Zero Hunger”, iii) and a cloud-based open educational platform mediating data literacy with hands-on practices (EO4Edu Editor). Furthermore, we valorise open data archives of the Copernicus programme but also ISS-based remote sensing technology.

4) Why was it important for you to join EO4GEO?

“Man must rise above the Earth — to the top of the atmosphere and beyond — for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives”. The famous quote by the Greek philosopher Socrates anticipates the importance of earth observation techniques for the research of coupled human-environment systems. Public awareness has to be raised about the data world behind colourful satellite imagery. This comprises not only the background of remote sensing but also a critical reflection of what can be achieved with earth observation from space — and where its limitations are. The humanitarian needs must be addressed to support an effective policy-making for a more sustainable future. Against the backdrop of global change, the availability of evaluative techniques and geodata appears to be crucial. The pressure on our world’s resources increases daily so science and practice must intertwine more and more in order to direct the future development of society, economy, and environment towards sustainability. We do not observe the Earth to predict the future but to change it!



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An innovative strategy for skills development and capacity building in the EO/GI field