Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability (NODES) strives to harness the potential of big data combined with citizen science and machine learning.

NODES will mobilize the tools of citizen and data science combined with Earth observations to monitor, analyze, and foster progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To realize this vision, NODES will exploit novel data ecosystems in which several actors interact via infrastructure, analytics, and applications to produce, analyze, exchange, and consume data.

Three main cross-fertilizing pillars characterize the research focus of NODES: 

  1. Advancing the field of citizen science: NODES will remain at the forefront of citizen science from conceptual advancements to innovations in citizen science practice, including the development of new means to acquire, analyze, and openly share citizen science data, as well as how citizen science can contribute to the SDGs and sustainability.
  2. Enriching Earth observation: NODES will utilize new types of Earth observation technology (e.g., high-resolution imagery, drones, and the Internet of things (IoT)) and develop applications that focus on the interplay between Earth observation and citizen science using Geo-Wiki tools, various forms of remote sensing, and on-site observation.
  3. Exploiting the digital revolution: NODES will harness the opportunities arising from the digital revolution by exploiting advancements in computing capabilities, data science (e.g., machine and deep learning), environmental informatics, and the geospatial sciences, among others, to enhance integrated systems science research and generate new and innovative data sets for further insights.

NODES anticipates having a large impact in the field of innovative data science, particularly at the intersection of citizen science and Earth observation. The group envisages its ultimate value as contributing to the faster diffusion of knowledge derived from various forms of Earth observation, in part by facilitating open data with findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability (FAIR) data principles. It is foreseen that NODES will have an important impact in contributing to SDG monitoring and implementation while providing inputs to a future framework of indicators. Furthermore, the group seeks to have impact in the field of citizen science with regard to building both the trust and engagement of a larger segment of society, with citizens becoming part of the scientific process while increasing the overall acceptance of scientific outcomes. These impacts will be realized in both the near and longer-term in the form of cumulative effects.


paper cut-out figures on blue background give high five

10 May 2022

IIASA recognizes outstanding research contributions

IIASA recently instituted a new system of awards to recognize outstanding contributions towards meeting the strategic priorities and values of the institute. We are proud to announce that five IIASA research activities have been recognized in the inaugural 2022 award cycle.
Planet earth from the space at night

05 May 2022

Identifying global poverty from space

Despite successes in reducing poverty globally in the last two decades, almost one billion people are still living without access to reliable and affordable electricity, which in turn negatively affects health and welfare, and impedes sustainable development. Knowing where these people are is crucial if aid and infrastructure are to reach them. A new IIASA-led study proposes a novel method to estimate global economic wellbeing using nighttime satellite images.






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Picture Pile Platform


Crop Observe App is an application for collecting crop type, phenological stage, visible damage and management practices.
Several data collection activities related to forest cover and forest biomass have been coordinated by IIASA’s NoDES group in the past


30 November 2021

People profiles: Achieving sustainable development with better data

Options Winter 2021: Dilek Fraisl researches how citizen science can provide data needed to monitor progress on the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs).
citizen science illustration

10 August 2021

Defense of the natural realm

Options Magazine, Summer 2021: At a crucial moment for beleaguered nature, IIASA research is showing that we can reverse biodiversity loss. It will need an effort that is grand in scale and focused where rewards are greatest.
Animals in front of a mountain

Highlighted staff

Ian McCallum profile picture

Ian McCallum

Research Group Leader and Senior Research Scholar

Steffen Fritz profile picture

Steffen Fritz

Program Director and Principal Research Scholar

Principal Research Scholar

Linda See profile picture

Linda See

Senior Research Scholar

Dilek Fraisl profile picture

Dilek Fraisl

Research Scholar