In the field of Earth Observation (EO) activities, the critical point found for the Balkan countries is how to create a future environment of cooperation between partners at various levels where companies from across the world would be involved in joint projects. Experience gained in projects supported by the European Union (EU) paves the way toward future models of cooperation and will help to identify new products and market niches for these products and services. Future cooperation between Balkan partners becomes much easier if experience from initial projects is already available. In this sense, the OBSERVE project has significantly contributed by developing a network and capacity-building in the region.
Many activities within OBSERVE have been focused on collecting information and investigating the current state of affairs in the field of EO in the Balkan region. The analysis of this detailed data shows there are inevitable differences between the contributing countries due to history, politics and other reasons. On the other hand, we can find many common trends and common goals for the EO in the region.
The biggest weaknesses are that EO data regulation is not clear to the data producers. Data in many countries is expensive, incomplete, limited, outdated, unavailable or incorrect. Other factors include the use of standards regarding EO data, weak and irregular cooperation among data producers and providers, limited sharing of EO regional datasets in places such as the former Yugoslav republics and Balkan countries, and data compatibility with GEOSS.
Also, in many counties, most of the data producers or providers are only partially aware of the needs of end-users regarding EO data. Other areas that need improvement include the export of products and services in most countries, media reports of EO-related issues, informing professional societies about new data sources, data availability and data usage, and the cooperation between academic institutions and decision makers for EO data development and implementation. The completeness of EO data and the ease of access can considerably increase the annual income of EO data users by 10-25 percent.