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Applications + Systems + Tools + Data

Table of Contents

Being adequately, equitably and affordably network connected is a critical requirement of the path forward. But once connected, what’s important is what gets done through our use of the net.  Applications are the key.  This Section includes a focus on tools, applications and data sources that support research, learning, informed decision-making and grounded actions in and for mountain areas sustainability.

Digital tools and applications are rapidly evolving, becoming evermore sophisticated and easier to use.   Climate change and environmental ecosystem challenges are provoking researchers to deploy multi-spectral sensing system arrays, satellite monitoring, large databases and analyses, geospatial tools, security systems and increasingly complex cyber-infrastructure, being purposed with intentions for improved ecological and economic decision-making and actions. 

Many of the resources and links in this section point the way to learning, potential new projects and partnered support opportunities.   This is only a snapshot, though, demonstrating the need for the content in this Report to be part of an interactive, continually added to and updated website.

Mapping Mountains

Google: Mountains of the World

Where Are The World’s Highest Cities?

When ranking the world’s highest cities, we specifically looked at major urban centers with a population of one million or more inhabitants, with an elevation “floor” of 1,000m.  Though you might expect less important cities to make the rankings, 22 out of the 50 highest cities are actually national capitals.

Of the 10 highest cities, three are in Mexico’s many mountainous regions and four of the top five are adjacent to the Andes Mountains.  The countries with the most high cities were China and Mexico, with eight each. China specifically had the most high metropolises in Asia, and many of the world’s highest settlements, though most of its major cities lie outside the Tibetan and Mongolian Plateaus.

The elevation data comes from the European Commission’s database of urban centers, using Thomas Brinkhoff’s City Population dataset for updated demographics.

A New High-Resolution Map of World Mountains and an Online Tool for Visualizing and Comparing Characterizations of Global Mountain Distributions

Authors: Roger Sayre, Charlie Frye, Deniz Karagulle, Jürg Krauer, Sean Breyer, Peter Aniello, Dawn J. Wright, Davnah Payne, Carolina Adler, Harumi Warner, D. Paco VanSistine, Jill Cress.

Mountain Research and Development, Vol. 38(3):240-249 (8.2018).

Global Mountain Explorer (GME)

Global Mountain Explorer (GME), an online open-access tool for visualizing these mountain area extents. This work specifically addresses Task 1.0 in the work plan of the Group on Earth Observations initiative Global Network for Observations and Information in Mountain Environments (GEO 2017). The objective of Task 1.0 is to bring together existing datasets focused on the delineation of mountain regions and to enable comparisons across mountain regions of key biophysical phenomena and socioeconomic processes.

GME was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in partnership with Esri, the Center for Development and Environment of the University of Bern (CDE), the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA), and the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI). The work is part of a Group on Earth Observations (GEO) initiative called GEO GNOME, GEO’s Global Network for Observations and Information in Mountain Environments ( ). The work specifically addresses Task 1.0 in GEO GNOME’s workplan: Accurately delineate mountain regions using best available data.

Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment

Esri and UN Launch Global Storytelling Competition

September 09, 2020,  Competition Encourages Use of Geospatial Software to Spread Awareness of Sustainable Development

Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) have launched the 2020 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition for the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the organization’s president, economist Jeffrey Sachs, “Today’s leaders in sustainable development require skills in the rapidly expanding range of geospatial data and GIS tools, as well as the ability to convey geographic information in stories and maps that advance the public understanding.”

Esri’s ArcGIS StoryMaps is one such tool that enables users to integrate maps, data, and other multimedia content with text to tell stories about the world’s greatest challenges and highlight or inspire solutions. Esri and SDSN are inviting both professionals and students to build and submit stories to the 2020 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition through November 25, 2020. Story submissions must address one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For the competition, Esri’s ArcGIS StoryMaps team will select 20 finalists from all qualified submissions—10 finalists from the professional track and 10 finalists from the student track. Guest judges will select first-, second-, and third-place winners in each track. The four guest judges include Jeffrey Sachs, president, SDSN; Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, SDG advocate and environmental activist; Alex Tait, The Geographer at the National Geographic Society; and Dawn Wright, chief scientist, Esri.

ArcGIS StoryMaps

Esri + Sustainable Development Goals

Nonprofit Organization Program, Geospatial solutions for nonprofits

Access data, technology, and resources to advance your mission

Putting Indigenous Place-Names and Languages Back on Maps

ArcNews – Winter 2021, Kelsey Leonard

GIS-Based Study of Water Scarcity in Peru Offers Replicable Model

ArcNews – Winter 2021, Adam Stieglitz, Dir. , Aaron Ebner + James Valenza, GIS Specialist.   Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD), University of Louisville, Speed School of Engineering, International Service Learning Program (ISLP).

International Society on Participatory Mapping (ISPM)

The Society’s objectives are to encourage and support the development, experimentation, evaluation, and application of participatory mapping methods globally in order to foster interaction and research in this scientific field, and to coordinate with other organizations in the study of participatory processes, mapping, and quantitative analyses. The Society places a strong emphasis on fostering opportunities between the Global North and South in order to promote a more equal distribution of knowledge and resources.

These purposes are to be carried out by:

  • Facilitating global communications,
  • Providing academic assistance with ideas, methods, and contacts,
  • Sponsoring international conferences for the exchange of ideas and dissemination of results,
  • Encouraging special purpose workshops and student knowledge exchanges,
  • Publishing the electronic newsletter, and
  • Encouraging an environment of international colleagueship and friendship across the globe., is the electronic forum on participatory use of geo-spatial information systems and technologies. We host four distinct communities, namely the global list which is Anglophone, and lists for French- Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking practitioners. These online platforms serve as global avenues for discussing issues, sharing experiences and good practices related to participatory mapping, Participatory GIS (PGIS), Public Participation GIS (PPGIS), and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). We discuss a range of geospatial information technologies (GIT) used in crisis management, and participatory development, sustainable natural resource management and customary property rights in developing countries and among indigenous peoples worldwide.

Counter Mapping

Jim Enote, a traditional Zuni farmer and director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, is working with Zuni artists to create maps that bring an indigenous voice and perspective back to the land, countering Western notions of place and geography and challenging the arbitrary borders imposed on the Zuni world.


An Open Source GIS Software Library for Large-Scale Environmental and Socio-Economic Applications.  The design goal for TerraLib is to support large-scale applications using socio-economic and environmental data. TerraLib supports coding of geographical applications using spatial databases, and stores data in different database management systems including MySQL and PostgreSQL. It handles spatio-temporal data with Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards.

Using TerraLib, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) developed the TerraView open source GIS, which provides functions for data conversion, display, exploratory spatial data analysis, and spatial and non-spatial queries.  TerraAmazon, Brazil’s national database for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, manages more than 2 million complex polygons and 60 gigabytes of remote sensing images.


BIOPAMA: The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme aims to assist the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in developing a framework for improving technical and institutional approaches to conserve biodiversity, in protected and conserved areas, through regional cooperation and capacity building activities. These actions are structured around the work of a series of Regional Observatories (RO) for protected areas across the ACP, managed by regional institutions, and housing Regional Reference Information Systems (RRIS) with tools and services that stakeholders can use to monitor and report on the status of biodiversity and PAs. In the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, the observatory will be known as the Regional Resource Hub.

BIOPAMA is jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) and RCMRD will be the host institution for this observatory.

The Environment & Society Portal

The Environment & Society Portal is a gateway to open access resources on the human-environment relationship.  It is a project of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, a joint initiative of LMU Munich and the Deutsches Museum. The center is supported by a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.     Contact:

The Portal includes an excellent related resource links page.

The ‘GEOSS Portal’

The ‘GEOSS Portal’ offers a single Internet access point for users seeking data, imagery and analytical software packages relevant to all parts of the globe. It connects users to existing data bases and portals and provides reliable, up-to-date and user friendly information – vital for the work of decision makers, planners and emergency managers.

For users with limited or no access to the Internet, similar information is available via the ‘GEONETCast’ network of telecommunication satellites.  


GEO BON is a part of GEO, The Group on Earth Observations. Within the GEO family, GEO BON represents biodiversity, one of GEO’s nine Societal-Benefit-Areas. GEO BON, the Biodiversity Observation Network of GEO, is building up for the pathway to link biodiversity data and metadata to GEOSS, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.  GEO BON has created a large global network and community of practice involved in biodiversity observations. The GEO BON secretariat is hosted by iDiv and supported by the German Science Foundation.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility – GBIF

The GBIF is an international network and data infrastructure funded by the world’s governments and aimed at freely providing anyone, anywhere, open access to biodiversity data about all types of life on Earth.  GBIF arose from a 1999 recommendation by the Biodiversity Informatics Subgroup of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Megascience Forum.  The GBIF Secretariat is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The GBIF network draws all these sources together through the use of data standards, such as Darwin Core, which forms the basis for the bulk of’s index of hundreds of millions of species occurrence records. Publishers provide open access to their datasets using machine-readable Creative Commons licence designations, allowing scientists, researchers and others to apply the data in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and policy papers each year. Many of these analyses—which cover topics from the impacts of climate change and the spread of invasive and alien pests to priorities for conservation and protected areas, food security and human health— would not be possible without this.


A toolkit for rapid assessment of ecosystem services at key sites of biodiversity conservation. 2013

The Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA) has been developed through a collaboration of six institutions with input generously provided by scientists and practitioners from multiple disciplines.  The toolkit provides accessible guidance on low-cost methods for how to evaluate the benefits people receive from nature at particular sites in order to generate information that can be used to influence decision making.

TESSA is primarily aimed at conservation practitioners, although the methods may be applicable to a wide range of users, including natural resource managers (e.g. forestry, fisheries, water managers), land-use planners, development organisations (e.g. for poverty alleviation), and the private sector.

ARIES: AI for Ecosystem Services

Tools like ARIES that can track and forecast progress toward environmental and economic targets will be integral in highlighting these trade-offs and tracking progress toward more sustainable forms of regional, national, and international economic development.

Ferdinando Villa, Project leader, Ikerbasque Research Professor at BC3, Basque Center for Climate Change         Ecoinformatics – Ecosystem Services and Decision Support Systems


SERVIR, a joint venture between NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, provides state-of-the-art, satellite-based Earth monitoring, imaging and mapping data, geospatial information, predictive models and science applications to help improve environmental decision-making among developing nations in eastern and southern Africa, the Hindu-Kush region of the Himalayas and the lower Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia.

SERVIR provides critical information and support services to help national, regional and local governments, forecasters, climatologists and other researchers track environmental changes, evaluate ecological threats and rapidly respond to and assess damage from natural disasters.

With activities in more than 30 countries and counting, the SERVIR team already has developed more than 40 custom tools, collaborated with more than 200 institutions and trained approximately 1,800 regional support staffers, developing local solutions and linking regional offices around the globe to create a thriving, interactive network. Web-based satellite imagery, decision-support tools and interactive visualization capabilities previous inaccessible across many these regions now enable stakeholders to work together to combat floods, wildfires, superstorms and other calamities, and also to address long-term environmental shifts tied to climate change, biodiversity, drought and other factors.

SERVIR was created as a collaborative effort by NASA, USAID, the World Bank in Washington and the Central American Commission on Environment and Development in Antiguo Cuscatl, El Salvador, with input from the Group on Earth Observations, an alliance of more than 80 nations and organizations collaborating to build a Global Earth Observing System of Systems to benefit society’s needs.

The first regional hub, launched in 2005 in Panama City, Panama, served the Mesoamerican region and the Dominican Republic. Today, NASA, USAID and their partners operate SERVIR hubs in Kathmandu, Nepal, serving the Hindu-Kush region of the Himalayas; in Nairobi, Kenya, serving eastern and southern Africa; and in Bangkok, Thailand, serving the five countries of the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia, with additional hubs under consideration for other developing regions of the world.

SERVIR is a global network of leading regional knowledge centers, including the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center and other partners.

OpenTEAM, or Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management, is a farmer-driven, interoperable suite of tools that provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health.     (207) 865-4469

OpenTEAM offers field-level carbon measurement, digital management records, remote sensing, predictive analytics, and input and economic management decision support in a connected technology toolkit that reduces the need for farmer data entry. OpenTEAM is a collaborative community of farmers, scientists and researchers, engineers, farm service providers, and food companies that are committed to improving soil health and advancing agriculture’s ability to

become a solution to climate change. OpenTEAM is headquartered at Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport, Maine. OpenTEAM was founded in 2019 by Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Stonyfield, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture, and USDA’s LandPKS.

The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) is a simple free and open source software tool and mobile application developed by USDA/ARS that supports land use planning and management. It includes modules that allow non-soil scientists to (a) determine the sustainable potential.

GOAT, Gathering for Open Agricultural Technology  

GODAN – Global Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition is a United Nations initiative created out of the Open Government Partnership Conference in October 2013 following 2012 G8 discussions. GODAN supports the proactive sharing of open data.  

The Global Open Science Hardware (GOSH) movement seeks to reduce barriers between diverse creators and users of scientific tools to support the pursuit and growth of knowledge.  GOSH principles are: be accessible, make science better, be ethical, change the culture of science, democratize science, have no high priests, empower people, have no black boxes, create impactful tools, allow multiple futures for science.

OpenTEAM uses Slack as an internal communications platform for our working groups, hubs.

OpenTEAM Hubs will serve as a primary testing ground for the OpenTEAM platform, and their experience and feedback will inform OpenTEAM’s user interface design and calibration of the tools that are part of the OpenTEAM platform.  Slack allows for both public and private channels of communication within the immediate OpenTEAM community.

Riot, developed by Matrix, is an app for secure, decentralized communication. OpenTEAM uses riot to discuss the ins and outs of our tech development.

Dorn Cox, PhD, Project Lead

Laura Demmel, Global Coordinator + Community Facilitator

Tom Ianello, Technology & Design Specialist

The AgStack Foundation

Open-Source Digital Infrastructure for the Agriculture Ecosystem

Maintenance and enhancement of free, re-usable, open and specialized digital infrastructure for data and applications.


Subak is the world’s first non-profit accelerator that scales climate impact through data, policy and behaviour change.  Using a name inspired by Indonesian farmers, it refers to an ancient agricultural system that allows farmers to co-ordinate their efforts when irrigating and growing crops.  Subak will share information and fund hi-tech solutions to fight global warming.

Bryony Worthington, founder and board member of the new, not-for-profit climate action group. “And that is exactly what we are going to do – with data. By sharing and channelling data, we can maximise our efforts to combat carbon emissions and global warming. Data is going to be the new water, in other words.”

Subak has been given funding by the Quadrature Climate Foundation (QCF), recently set up by the London investment management company, Quadrature Capital.

July 18, 2021 article in the Guardian:  How data could save Earth from climate change

Public Lab

Public Lab: supports community science base-building, leading to increased victories for local environmental action, and make it easier for communities to lead scientific investigations through peer networking, education, and the use of open technology and data.

The science, technology, and data shared on are community-created and open source. These tools enable people to collaborate on and build upon community knowledge, and to share data about community environmental health. We focus tool development on creating tools that are low cost; open source; easy to use; built through public participation and collaboration; supported by a network of practitioners; and that produce meaningful and understandable data.


Brave is a free and open-source web browser developed by Brave Software, Inc. based on the Chromium web browser. It blocks ads and website trackers, and provides a way for users to send cryptocurrency contributions in the form of Basic Attention Tokens to websites and content creators.

Caroline A. Jones is a professor of Art History in the Architecture Department at MIT in Cambridge, MA, and Director of MIT’s Transmedia Storytelling Initiative.

SciDataCon 2021

The ISC’s World Data System and Committee on Data is an integral part of International Data Week 2021 (8–11 November 2021; Seoul).

The overarching theme of IDW 2021 and SciDataCon is Data to Improve our World.

The high-level themes of IDW 2021 and SciDataCon include:

  • Data to Improve our World: The role of data to address global challenges
  • The State of Open Science Globally
  • Research Transparency, Accountability, and Reproducibility
  • Data, Research and Industry: The Interface between Data-intensive Research and Innovation
  • Science and Society: Engagement and participation
  • Empowering and Enabling Society: Data Science, Stewardship Education +Data Literacy


Planet, one of the largest private satellite imagery companies, employs more than 130 satellites to provide clients with 3- to 5-meter resolution images, according to the company’s website.

ITU Broadband Maps

African Undersea and Terrestrial Fibre

AfTerFibre or African Terrestrial Fibre is a map of African terrestrial (and now undersea) fibre optic infrastructure initiatives. An Open Data initiative, it was developed with some initial support from Google and is now hosted and supported by the Network Startup Resource Center.

The Africa GeoPortal

Inspiring communities through geography

Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa)

DE Africa will provide a routine, reliable and operational service, using Earth observations to deliver decision-ready products enabling policy makers, scientists, the private sector and civil society to address social, environmental and economic changes on the continent and develop an ecosystem for innovation across sectors.

DE Africa will process openly accessible and freely available data to produce decision-ready products. Working closely with the AfriGEO community, DE Africa will be responsive to the information needs, challenges and priorities of the African continent. DE Africa will leverage and build on existing capacity to enable the use of Earth observations to address key challenges across the continent.

Mountainous Ecosystem Sensor Array (MESA)

Mountainous Ecosystem Sensor Array (MESA): a mesh sensor network for climate change research in remote mountainous environments

Robinson, P. W.; Neal, D.; Frome, D.; Kavanagh, K.; Davis, A.; Gessler, P. E.; Hess, H.; Holden, Z. A.; Link, T. E.; Newingham, B. A.; Smith, A. M.

Developing sensor networks robust enough to perform unattended in the world’s remote regions is critical since these regions serve as important benchmarks that lack anthropogenic influence. Paradoxically, the factors that make these remote, natural sites challenging for sensor networking are often what make them indispensable for climate change research. The MESA (Mountainous Ecosystem Sensor Array) project has faced these challenges and developed a wireless mesh sensor network across a 660 m topoclimatic gradient in a wilderness area in central Idaho. This sensor array uses advances in sensing, networking, and power supply technologies to provide near real-time synchronized data covering a suite of biophysical parameters used in ecosystem process models. The 76 sensors in the network monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, humidity, air and soil temperature, soil water content, precipitation, incoming and outgoing shortwave and longwave radiation, snow depth, wind speed and direction, and leaf wetness at synchronized time intervals ranging from two minutes to two hours and spatial scales from a few meters to two kilometers. We present our novel methods of placing sensors and network nodes above, below, and throughout the forest canopy without using meteorological towers.  MESA sensor locations are across a 700 m topoclimatic gradient at the University of Idaho Taylor Wilderness Research Station.

American Geophysical Union, Pub Date: December 2013 Bibcode: 2013AGUFMIN41C1617R

The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System

Low-Cost Environmental Sensor Networks

Low-Cost Environmental Sensor Networks: Recent Advances and Future Directions

Feng Mao*, Kieran Khamis, Stefan Krause, Julian Clark and David M. Hannah, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK

Front. Earth Sci., 11 September 2019

The use of low-cost sensor networks (LCSNs) is becoming increasingly popular in the environmental sciences and the unprecedented monitoring data generated enable research across a wide spectrum of disciplines and applications. This paper reviews the development of LCSNs over the last 15 years, highlighting trends and future opportunities for a diverse range of environmental applications. We found air quality, meteorological and water-related networks were particularly well represented with few studies focusing on sensor networks for ecological systems. Furthermore, we identified bias toward studies that have direct links to human health, safety and livelihoods. These studies were more likely to involve downstream data analytics, visualizations, and multi-stakeholder participation through citizen science initiatives. However, there was a paucity of studies that considered sustainability factors for the development and implementation of LCSNs. Existing LCSNs are largely focused on detecting and mitigating events which have a direct impact on humans such as flooding, air pollution or geo-hazards, while these applications are important there is a need for future development of LCSNs for monitoring ecosystem structure and function. Our findings highlight three distinct opportunities for future research to unleash the full potential of LCSNs: (1) improvement of links between data collection and downstream activities; (2) the potential to broaden the scope of application systems and fields; and (3) to better integrate stakeholder engagement and sustainable operation to enable longer and greater societal impacts.

Massive Air and Stream Temperature Sensor Networks for Studying Microclimatic Variation In Mountain Landscapes

Daniel J. Isaak (, Zachary A. Holden (, Charles H. Luce (, and Brett B. Roper (

Climate change is motivating extensive research to understand potential responses in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Ongoing efforts to downscale climate models are improving the resolution at which climate data are available, but outputs from even the latest regional climate

models are coarse relative to the scales at which ecological processes operate and landscapes and natural resources are managed. Inexpensive digital temperature sensors and remote sensing technology now facilitate collecting large amounts of information for a variety of environmental attributes. Within the northwest U.S., efforts are underway to develop massive regional air and stream temperature sensor networks to understand microclimatic variation in mountainous terrain

Filling the Data Gaps in Mountain Climate Observatories

Filling the Data Gaps in Mountain Climate Observatories Through Advanced Technology, Refined Instrument Siting, and a Focus on Gradients

Source: Mountain Research and Development, 36(4) : 518-527

Published By: International Mountain Society, July 2016


The mountain research community is still contending with the need to monitor ecosystems, both to improve local management practices and to address regional and global science questions related to the Future Earth themes of Dynamic Planet, Global Sustainable Development, and Transformations Towards Sustainability.  Historical climate and ecological observatories and networks typically have not represented the scope or spatial and topographic distribution of near-surface processes in mountains, creating knowledge gaps. In this paper, we describe how some of the disconnects between data, models, and applications in mountains can be addressed using a combination of gradient monitoring, uniform observational siting and standards, and modern technology (cyberinfrastructure).  Use of cyberinfrastructure tools such as digital telemetry and IP networks can reduce costs and data gaps while improving data quality control processes and widening audience outreach. Embracing this approach and working toward common sets of comparable measurements should be goals of emerging mountain observatories worldwide.

Contributing to Sustainable Mountain Development by Facilitating Networking and

Knowledge Sharing through ICT – Collaboration between Rocky Mountain States and

Central Asia, Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, Vol.9, N_, 2011, Baktybek D. Abdrisaev, Ph.D., Utah Valley University, with R.E. “Rusty” Butler, Zamira Dzhusupova and Asylbek Aidaraliev.

Networking for sustainability

Networking for sustainability: Alliance capabilities and sustainability-oriented innovation

Elsevier, Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 89, August 2020, Pages 550-565

Edurne A.Inigo   + Paavo Ritala and Laura Albareda


• Alliance capabilities are relevant for sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI).

• Alliance proactiveness is positively related to radical SOI outcomes.

• Firms with different internal features benefit differently from these capabilities.

• Firms in different level of turbulence benefit differently from these capabilities.

• Alliance pre- and post-formation stages are differently relevant for SOI outcomes.

Research on open innovation and sustainability suggests that alliances with external stakeholders help to improve innovation outcomes.  Data were collected from 170 firms in the Basque Country region in Spain, which has a highly collaborative regional innovation system.

A deep dive into the birth process of linking 6G and the UN SDGs

Telecommunications Policy, 19 November 2021

Kirsi Ojutkangas, Elina Rossi, Marja Matinmikko-Blue: University of Oulu, Finland

  • When developing future telecommunication technologies, policies and business models, UN SDGs should be considered.
  • Research on 6G has started, targeting deployment in 2030. The first visions for 6G have taken the UN SDGs as the baseline.
  • Building on critical participatory action research theory, this paper develops a process for linking 6G with the UN SDGs.
  • Development of 6G needs a more human-centered perspective without disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are becoming an increasingly important theme for researchers in multiple fields to investigate. In this paper, we look at how a group of 40 experts from academia and the mobile communications industry identified ways in which future 6th generation (6G) mobile communications is linked with the UN SDGs while writing a white paper on the topic. In this paper, building on the methodology of critical participatory action research, we look into the detailed operations of the expert group, offer a new way to look at the 6G development process guided by the UN SDGs and describe the linking process for the UN SDGs and 6G in a way that may guide other researchers in similar endeavors. We also present initial outcomes of the linking process that led to the white paper published in 2020 (Matinmikko-Blue et al., 2020). The aim of this research is to identify and formulate a process to recognise the connection between UN SDGs and 6G.