Digital earth: yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Alessandro Annoni*, Stefano Nativi, Arzu Çöltekin, Cheryl Desha, Eugene Eremchenko, Caroline M. Gevaert, Gregory Giuliani, Min Chen, Luis Perez-Mora, Joseph Strobl, Stephanie Tumampos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of Digital Earth (DE) was formalized by Al Gore in 1998. At that time the technologies needed for its implementation were in an embryonic stage and the concept was quite visionary. Since then digital technologies have progressed significantly and their speed and pervasiveness have generated and are still causing the digital transformation of our society. This creates new opportunities and challenges for the realization of DE. ‘What is DE today?’, ‘What could DE be in the future?’, and ‘What is needed to make DE a reality?’. To answer these questions it is necessary to examine DE considering all the technological, scientific, social, and economic aspects, but also bearing in mind the principles that inspired its formulation. By understanding the lessons learned from the past, it becomes possible to identify the remaining scientific and technological challenges, and the actions needed to achieve the ultimate goal of a ‘Digital Earth for all’. This article reviews the evolution of the DE vision and its multiple definitions, illustrates what has been achieved so far, explains the impact of digital transformation, illustrates the new vision, and concludes with possible future scenarios and recommended actions to facilitate full DE implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1072
Number of pages51
JournalInternational journal of digital earth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • citizen empowerment and industry engagement
  • data governance and ethic
  • Digital Earth
  • digital transformation
  • sustainable development


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital earth: yesterday, today, and tomorrow'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this