In this International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS)-funded project under ISPRS Scientific Initiatives 2023 (SI2023 Awards): Geospatial database for exposomics -, we are proof concepting and disseminating a much-needed metadata catalogue of Earth observation data sources/products and types that are relevant to human health research. The searchable catalogue is in the form of a dedicated Web portal that is provided as a free service to interested researchers worldwide and will be accessible through the ISPRS website (as a direct link to this project portal and catalogue). It is hoped future, more comprehensive versions of this portal will enable more researchers and studies to discover and use remote sensing data about population-level exposures to disease determinants to reveal fresh insights that could improve our understanding of the aetiology, pathogenesis and spread of relevant diseases, and hence contribute to the development of better-optimised prevention and management programmes to tackle them.

The Catalogue is informed by extensive input from existing research literature on the subject (desk research) as well as online communications with, and relevant research publications collected from, a small panel of select ‘stakeholder representatives’ from the academia in three countries (China, UK and USA) to guarantee some basic form of user engagement/involvement in the project from its very early stages, which is always highly desirable. Stakeholder representatives are providing us with valuable insights and intelligence about relevant remote sensing applications and available products in public health, in addition to important feedback on our catalogue (as it is being developed during 2023 over two iterations) to help us improve it to best serve their needs and those of the wider research community they represent.

The research team compiled the Catalogue based on all collected input in the form of an Excel iconExcel workbook that can be downloaded from this site.

The Catalogue currently has 90 metadata records of relevant Earth observation datasets (n = 40) and associated health-focused research publications (n = 50). Dataset and research publication records are stored in two separate but fully cross-referenced Excel worksheets/database tables. For each catalogued record, the following metadata elements were compiled: dataset name, provider, available year(s)/update frequency, cost (licence), covered geographical areas, resolution used, Web address (URL), related research publications, and the health conditions/application areas that featured in those publications.

Our Web developer then converted the Excel workbook into an online database and developed this portal in MySQL, an open source relational database management system, Python, a high-level, general-purpose programming language, and Django, an open source, Python-based Web framework. The portal features an access-protected 'Catalogue Management Interface' where the catalogue curator can modify existing catalogue records or add new ones as necessary.

An online searchable version of the catalogue can be accessed by clicking the 'Catalogue' menu on this site's navigation bar. The interface was designed with both desktop and mobile devices in mind. It allows users to search and filter dataset records by health conditions/application areas, cost, covered area(s), provider, or a combination of one or more of these elements. Users can also filter the associated research article records by health conditions/application areas and/or dataset name.
Catalogue menu (site navigation)


Following the initial launch of the portal and Catalogue in June 2023, we contacted the same group of 'stakeholder representatives' who had responded to our original call and provided input for the Catalogue. The feedback received about the online portal and Catalogue was positive and provided valuable suggestions for the second iteration of the interface, namely a suggestion "to implement free text search and ensure it can tolerate different spelling variants (e.g., British and American) and misspellings of health applications and place names" and another one to have a handy "online map to help locating datasets".

The two suggestions were considered and implemented in the second iteration of the portal and Catalogue. We implemented an 'Advanced Dataset Search' option using a custom Soundex algorithm (free text search of datasets by health applications or covered areas). As an example of how this algorithm works, searching health conditions for 'haemorrhagic fever' (en-GB spelling), 'hemorrhagic fever' (en-US spelling), or 'hemoragic fever' (typo/misspelling) will all retrieve the correct/same results. We also added a 'Visual Query (Map)' option allowing users to click location 'hotspots' on a map of the world with country flags and other relevant icons to retrieve corresponding dataset records (datasets by covered areas).


As of 30 June 2023, the portal received >200 unique visitors from more than 25 countries according to anonymous server log statistics generated by AWStats tool using IP geolocation. We also have a companion Facebook page at facebook/geoexposomics where relevant news items and updates are shared with a growing community.

Future Directions

A follow-on project would conduct a wider stakeholder consultation and comprehensively catalogue more datasets covering more countries/locations and more health conditions/application areas. Moreover, an online form could be made available on the portal for visitors to propose and contribute metadata details of new records to be added to the Catalogue (if deemed suitable following moderation to ensure quality and completeness). We could also look into providing a ChatGPT-like, natural language-based AI-driven conversational user interface (UI) for querying the Catalogue, whereby users use free text (plus, optionally, an interactive map to select desired locations) to describe in their own way and words a research question or health application they are currently investigating in a particular locale in order to retrieve all relevant records from the Catalogue. This would enhance discovery and explorability by allowing the search UI to more flexibly adapt to users' needs in more natural ways instead of asking users to adapt to and master a rather rigid (preprogrammed) and less forgiving interface.

Additional project details and future directions are discussed in the Project Presentation and the Paper entitled 'A proof-of-concept online metadata catalogue service of Earth observation datasets for human health research in exposomics', both of which can be accessed on the Publications page of this site.


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