OBSERVER: Copernicus around the world: how Copernicus Relays and Academy members leverage Copernicus data and bring awareness about the programme outside the EU

OBSERVER: Copernicus around the world: how Copernicus Relays and Academy members leverage Copernicus data and bring awareness about the programme outside the EU CSO Tanya Walker Thu, 26/08/2021 - 13:30

As part of the European Union’s Space Strategy, the European Commission established the Copernicus Relays and the Copernicus Academy networks as Copernicus ambassadors around the world. While the networks have many members in the EU, they also have members worldwide, from Asia and Oceania to South America and Africa. Since the Observer shed light on the activities of the non-EU Copernicus network members last year, new members have joined, further enhancing the global reach of the networks and the worldwide representation of the Copernicus programme.

Copernicus in Pakistan: space data to support mineral exploration

We kick off with a Copernicus Academy member from Pakistan: the Intelligent Information Processing Lab (IIPL), based at the National Centre of Artificial intelligence (NCAI). The IIPL is a public institution that aims to provide solutions to the problems faced by the mining sector in Pakistan by delivering cutting edge research and training opportunities on GIS, machine learning, signal processing and more.

In Pakistan, remote sensing has emerged as an economical, reliable, and safe way to carry out mineral exploration. In this regard, the high spatial resolution, free, full and open data from Copernicus allows to generate detailed maps of the country’s mineral resources, which are of great interest to both public and private sector mining organisations.

 

Example of a remote sensing project schematic for Geological Mapping | IIPL

Example of a remote sensing project schematic for Geological Mapping | IIPL

IIPL raises awareness about the potential and value of Copernicus data for use in multiple sectors, ranging from monitoring mining operations and geological mapping to land use/land cover mapping and disaster detection and mapping.

Dr. Khan Muhammad, principal investigator at NCAI, highlights the added-value of Copernicus data and its potential uptake in Pakistan: “The open and free data policy of the Copernicus programme, its frequent revisit time and relatively higher resolution has helped us motivate users across the country to use these datasets in their respective domains. Now, we are expecting Pakistan to be among the top countries that use Copernicus datasets across multiple domains”.

In order to increase user uptake, the IIPL strive to close the skill gap, by organising conferences showcasing the different uses of Copernicus data, organising training opportunities to educate young scientists on how to use these data in their research, and by fostering cross-disciplinary research collaborations.

 From left: Dr. Khan Muhammad Principal Investigator at NCAI and Assistant Professor at the Department of Mining Engineering - University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar | The IIPL research team - Shahab Ud Din, Fakhar Elahi, Saad Salman, Muhammad Fawad Akbar, and Abid Ali Khan Danish  

From left: Dr. Khan Muhammad Principal Investigator at NCAI and Assistant Professor at the Department of Mining Engineering - University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar | The IIPL research team - Shahab Ud Din, Fakhar Elahi, Saad Salman, Muhammad Fawad Akbar, and Abid Ali Khan Danish

For example, after publishing a recent paper linked to their research on cloud-based large-scale remote sensing using Copernicus data products, interest from the local mining sector in using Copernicus data in their operations grew significantly, thus further increasing awareness and uptake of Copernicus data in Pakistan.

Copernicus in the Pacific: connecting GIS and remote sensing communities through the Pacific GIS and Remote Sensing Council (PGRSC)

From the mines of Pakistan, we move to the unique and diverse geology of the Pacific Islands, where we find a Copernicus Relays member: the Pacific GIS and Remote Sensing Council (PGRSC). The PGRSC was established in Fiji in 2018, following decades of organising local and regional user meetings, with the aim of supporting the uptake of GIS and RS in the Pacific Island Countries by raising awareness and acting as a vehicle for information dissemination.

Launching PGRSC, (L-R) Rajendra Singh (education Fiji), Wolf Forstreuter (Chair PGRSC), Hon. Minister Koya (Ministry Lands & Mineral Resources), Malakai Finau (PS Ministry Lands & Mineral Resources) and Russell Howorth (Former Director SOPAC).

Launching PGRSC, (L-R) Rajendra Singh (education Fiji), Wolf Forstreuter (Chair PGRSC), Hon. Minister Koya (Ministry Lands & Mineral Resources), Malakai Finau (PS Ministry Lands & Mineral Resources) and Russell Howorth (Former Director SOPAC).

The Pacific Islands region has very specific characteristics, with two main types of islands – atoll islands (very long and thin) and volcanic islands (larger and very mountainous), that each face different challenges (e.g., vulnerability to climate change or unique atmospheric conditions). While each island type requires different mapping scales (1:10,000 for atolls and 1:50,000 for volcanic islands), both can greatly benefit from the increased use of remote sensing data, for example for mapping land cover change.

 

Left: Pacific atoll island (an atoll of Kiribati) | Right: Pacific volcanic island (Rotuma part of Fiji)

Left: Pacific atoll island (an atoll of Kiribati) | Right: Pacific volcanic island (Rotuma part of Fiji)

Historically, Pacific Islands have needed to rely on external consulting companies to obtain and process high-resolution satellite data. However, with Copernicus satellites, a new option is made available to the Pacific region, both for optical and radar imagery on a free, full and open basis. Yet, the benefits of Copernicus data are not yet well known in the Pacific region.

This is where the PGRSC comes in. They have set up a network of focal points in each Pacific Island country that provide users, from the public and private sector, with access to national and regional resources, information and knowledge about GIS and remote sensing. PGRSC chair, Wolf Forstreuter points out that: “there is a demand and need for imagery data within the Pacific Region, where PGRSC focal points can strengthen awareness of Copernicus and data availability within”.

Added to this fundamental structure, they organise an annual user conference, which serves as a hub of knowledge sharing, awareness and networking for all established and emerging user communities, including the promotion of Copernicus.

Group photo Pacific Islands GIS and Remote Sensing User Conference 2019

Group photo Pacific Islands GIS and Remote Sensing User Conference 2019

In order to increase user uptake of Copernicus data in the Pacific region, more efforts are needed to improve the download infrastructure for small countries and to raise awareness about the Copernicus full, free and open data policy.

Copernicus in Central America: facilitating regional user uptake through the Central American Integration System (SICA)

Moving on to Central America, a region regularly exposed to extreme weather and natural disasters, we meet a Copernicus Academy member seeking collective solutions to social and climate challenges, together with science and technology.

SICA team involved in the Copernicus Academy – from left: Jorge Cabrera, Orlando Reyes, Onides Latin and Carlos Enrique Alvarado.

SICA team involved in the Copernicus Academy – from left: Jorge Cabrera, Orlando Reyes, Onides Latin and Carlos Enrique Alvarado.

The Central American Integration System (SICA)[1] is the institutional framework of regional integration in Central America, founded in 1991. SICA, which this year celebrates its 30 years of existence, focuses on bringing science and technology to the service and well-being of the Central American people.

SICA’s membership in the Copernicus Academy network has allowed for the establishment of investigation channels and the use of Copernicus data in decision-making when it comes to risk and disaster management. Central America faces a strong threat from natural disasters such as tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall, drought, and seismic activity. Copernicus data and services can help local authorities forecast and respond to these natural hazards. For example, in early November 2020, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service supported Central American countries affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota with critical geospatial information for disaster response and management activities.

Moreover, the inclusion of new members in the Copernicus Academy regional consortium will enable further user uptake of Copernicus data in SICA member countries. SICA will continue to showcase the benefits of geospatial data, especially Copernicus, while carrying out capacity building activities to equip local and regional users with the skills and knowledge needed to make the most out of Copernicus data.

Copernicus in Argentina: powering smart municipalities with Copernicus data

From Central America, we travel south to Argentina, where we find another Copernicus Relays network member. SpaceSUR is a company specialising in software engineering and solutions applied to the entire aerospace cycle, from the development of satellites and complex systems to the implementation of geospatial solutions.

SpaceSUR works together with relevant public and private entities to integrate Earth Observation in their internal organisation processes, aiming to generate a positive impact on business and society, based on the application of space technology. The company deploys Copernicus data to provide value-added products and is working on generating demand and creating capabilities to bridge the skill gap.

 

Kick-off meeting with Punta Indio Municipality

Kick-off meeting with Punta Indio Municipality

In order to further increase user uptake of Copernicus data, SpaceSUR has put together a series of free training solutions, such as “Synthetic Aperture Radar Basics with Sentinel-1”, and “Introduction to Sentinel-2 image processing”.

 

SmartGov: SpaceSUR’s web platform for data analytics for Smart Cities

SmartGov: SpaceSUR’s web platform for data analytics for Smart Cities

Additionally, through their “Smart Municipalities Program Tools: geospatial tools at the service of the construction of Government 4.0” programme, SpaceSUR trains professionals from municipalities throughout the country to implement digital transformation strategies in the cities and local governments using Earth Observation satellites and geospatial technologies, including Copernicus. The programme showcases the benefits that Copernicus Sentinel and satellite-based data can bring to the country’s various industries and society.

Activity level detection in Almirante Brown Industrial Park, Buenos Aires - Argentina

Activity level detection in Almirante Brown Industrial Park, Buenos Aires - Argentina

These examples showcase that non-EU network members are key to increasing global awareness of the Copernicus programme and user uptake of its data. By sharing their experiences and progress, we can see how truly global the Copernicus networks really are.

Would you like to become a member of the Copernicus networks? Then, head over to the dedicated Relays and Academy application forms.

 

[1] SICA member states: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic (as associated member state).

Copernicus around the world: how Copernicus Relays and Academy members leverage Copernicus data and bring awareness about the programme outside the EU
Source: copernicus.eu

OBSERVER: Copernicus around the world: how Copernicus Relays and Academy members leverage Copernicus data and bring awareness about the programme outside the EU