Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network
With the growing importance of environment and climate change as public health challenges, it is important that communities have the capacity to monitor, respond, and adapt to new impacts and health effects. Developing effective systems for accessing locally relevant information is part of the challenge. The Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network provides a model for engaging communities and connecting with technical experts and resources. It also informs about specific events and the impacts, needs, and responses.
LEO is comprised of local experts who collect observations about unusual environmental events in their communities. They apply local and traditional knowledge, western science and modern technology to record and share observations and to raise awareness about the conditions in the circumpolar north. There are LEO participants in Alaska and Canada in over 100 communities (see: Communities Map).
LEO uses web based, public Google maps to post observations about unique or unusual events. LEO members and their organizations are responsible for deciding what information to share with the network. A new map is developed each month and the observations are listed in chronological order. Maps are also developed by topic and by region. All maps are archived on the LEO website. Each event has its own text box which can also include photos, video clips, links, and attachments.
There are many topic-specific observation networks operating in the circumpolar north. LEO compliments these networks by helping to connect them with interested observers. The outcome of the dialogue and actions are later posted to the maps and archived for future reference. The network reviews recent observations and meets with new technical contacts in monthly webinars.
LEO is based at the Center for Climate and Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. It is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the U.S. Indian Health Service and the Western and Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC). Members of the LEO Network are employed in the environmental, health, natural resource or community services field for tribal and first nations governments and organizations. For more information see our About LEO document, here.