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Last year's tsunami highlighted the need to improve the international coordination of Earth observation activities and data collection. 

Data collection — crucial for natural disasters warning systems, for agriculture, for managing water resources among others — is often duplicated, and tends to focus disproportionately on rich countries.

An editorial in this week's Nature welcomes news that 60 nations have agreed to create a system that will integrate and coordinate global Earth observation activities (see Global system to improve and unify Earth observation).

But the editorial warns that for the project to succeed it is essential that researchers make sure that their needs are heard, and that the system supports the basic scientific activity of collecting data.

Political support for the project is precarious, the editorial adds, making it essential that scientists mobilise to show politicians the benefits of a global Earth observation system.

Link to full editorial at Nature