Many important challenges facing science, business, and society have a fundamental geo-component. These challenges range from understanding regionally varied impacts of global environmental change, through tracking diffusion of avian flu and responding to natural disasters, to adapting business practice to dynamically changing resources, markets and geopolitical situations. For these and many other challenges reference to location (and time) connects disparate data sources.
Recently, a large increase has been noted in collection and research of geospatial data (including earth observation data) for the management of space and resources. We can distinguish the following major developments in the various domains of geoinformation. First, the number of sensors is increasing, as is the number of platforms and the range of applications. Second, we have increasingly realized that geographical space is not static but consists of dynamic spatial complexes with ever changing constellations of interacting and interrelated spatial objects (e.g., highly urbanised regions, rural development areas, and changing ecological zones). A good understanding is required of the processes taking place in these complexes and specifications of what data are required for the observation, monitoring and management of these processes. Third, we see increasing efforts to communicate sound scientific developments to interested and affected stakeholders who are facing important problems in society. Fourth, aspects of data quality are now increasingly recognized and being dealt with, through the full chain of geoinformation science.