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In this issue of EOMAG, EARSC will have the privilege to feature an interview with Mr Guy Weets from the Directorate General for Information Society and Media at European Commission.

-In introduction, could you briefly describe the current responsibilities of the Unit of the Information Society related to GMES?
Until now, researchers have painstakingly collected their own data needed to carry out their own research. As many new questions emerged, it became clear that the only way forward was to use existing data, generally collected for entirely different purposes. Since this data was not originally designed to be shared, the interoperability problem has become a formidable task.
No service market will develop if we don’t address properly the issue of data access which is partly only a technical problem. The DG Environment initiative to enforce the creation of a European wide geo-spatial infrastructure for the environment is a key step forward toward a single information space for the environment in Europe. In support of this initiative some of our RTD projects are working on an open service-oriented architecture for the environment which aims at reducing the interoperability problems to a size that is manageable. Another set of projects address the harmonization in in-situ monitoring. We believe that those two set of actions are the prerequisite for a successful deployment of GMES services. In short, most of the future GMES services will require full access to a wide range of ancillary data, geo-spatial or not, and also will need a kind of automatic calibration and validation of EO data thanks to well designed in-situ sensors.
Due to the high numbers of users and the huge variety of application domains, the design of such a unique information space cannot be made using traditional engineering methods, the best metaphor to describe this information space for environment is to see it as an “information ecosystem” very much like the Internet. The challenge is therefore to create the pre-conditions for this “ecosystem” to grow. For us it is partly a research task, partly a huge standardisation effort and last but not least a mechanism (still to be defined) to reach a critical mass of applications and early adopters so the system will be self sustainable
- Is the “Information technology model” a tool in emergency & crisis management?
If access to information is crucial for the researcher, it is also essential to emergency personnel and thus plays a vital role in saving lives. Information interoperability harnesses the power of the network to bring the right data to those who need it most, when needed. Today we stand at the threshold of a network-enabled future; this future may never materialize without a large part of R&D funding being allocated to a common approach to define the architectural framework(s) and the reference models that identify open standards and their pattern of use.
-During a crisis event, the lack of communication is a fact. What are the necessary steps to solve this problem?
Exchange of information involving all the emergency management chain is required with collaboration from different entities and countries. There is a real need for a proposal for standards to exchange emergency information between the different entities or agencies involved in a crisis event.
- How do you see the environmental information systems architecture? How do you see the steps and iterations within INSPIRE and GMES and what about GEOSS?
For the information and society perspectives all the mentioned initiatives are the same. Environmental information needs a minimum set of tools to allow interoperability to reduce the cost of making transaction between information systems.
“For example; I would like to have a kind of “google tool for environment” where I can answer a query from spatial data for a specific zone. The result will be all those data from different sources including the information on where I can find those data”. Nowadays, the problem is not the technology or how to obtain the data. The key question to be solved is “data policy” to share that data. Advanced techniques on the field of information technology will be needed. We are approaching a special “user architecture in connecting systems” which will know in advance what kind of information systems we will need from the beginning and all will be known through a kind of “data browser”. For simplification; a kind of “google for environment”
-Now moving to business and real market, “effective communication” to all the key audience is needed, following your professional experience how should industry build the communication bridge with new customers?
My personal view is that earth observation has been pushed to potential markets. Industry should understand the real user needs in long term vision (customer most of the times doesn’t know technology and industry does not understand the customer approach). Technology should be pulled by market.
The incompatibility between different sensors is also a big issue and that is against to the principle of information society. There is a need at least to offer “interoperability” and “compatibility” to protect the public investment and future markets. The problem could be solved investing more in the ground segment making transparent the process of receiving the data and specially insuring the compatibility between systems to process the information. Space industry should deliver an information product with affordable price. Together with a common understanding for the market exploitation this should be the approach.
-Google Earth or Virtual Earth are big brand initiatives which have shown the potentialities of earth observation for the normal citizen, so it is a kind of EO communication’s revolution driven by market forces. Why was it for EO industry so difficult to anticipate this market movement?
Mainly because the “lack of market vision” of what technology can do outside the domain of interest. Industry should identify the “state of the art” and the advances on communication technology.
The view of what technology can do is obvious; the problem is that industry does not know which kind of information will be required by user. It is always interesting to analyse the following questions: (i) what can technology do (ii) what can market accept (iii) what is the current approach and (iv) what will be the inter-disciplinary domains to work with (that was the success business model for “Google Earth”)
- Could you please provide me with some key indicators to measure the potential progress of the market in Earth Observation, especially the communication initiatives?
Maybe innovative but I would like to see a space sensor integrated in a kind of “semantic way”. There is then a need for “ontology”, a specification of a conceptualization and the hierarchical description of the attributes and topics. Space sector should find its own “ontology”; defining terminology and the existing paths interoperable between sensors. One will need a structure to define the vocabulary for the discipline as well as standards providing the logic from data to service and the right context for each application. Those steps will require an Industry agreement.
Once space community will reach the “standardization”, it will be easier to develop more services. Standards will simplify the output of the system reducing uncertainty. Having more EO VA companies on the market, the specialization of the services will be extremely efficient; a hi-tech performance transformation of data into real applications providing a professional product that market can use today. Companies will cover a piece of the production chain specialising on their products and reducing their cost by a simple “workflow”. When a space value added service is integrated within another sector, the business model is a success.
Last thoughts
The idea to follow is the “internal reorganization” of the systems. The Earth Observation value added sector should evolve with “interoperable services” and using “standards”, independently of the space data and of the sensor. The “quality model” could evolve in various directions and should be flexible, that is “ecosystem” could be the word to use. Finally the model should be “simple” and “affordable”. It is much more difficult to do something simple than complex. So there is a big work to do in front of us but we are looking forward to the future.
CONTACT
Mr. Guy Weets
Deputy Head of Unit Information Society Directorate-General at European Commission
Av. de Beaulieu 31, BE-1160 Brussels,
BELGIUM
Tel/Fax: 32 2 296 35 05/ 95 48
E-mail: guy.weets@ec.europa.eu.

In this issue of EOMAG, EARSC will have the opportunity to feature an interview with Mr. Peter Williams, the International Marketing Lead for Location Products & Services at Microsoft.

The objective is to raise awareness of the IT specialist’s Mapping products and technologies. These include Microsoft AutoRoute, MapPoint CD, MapPoint Web Services, MapPoint Location Server and Virtual Earth.
First of all, thank you for taking some time from your busy agenda and giving us the occasion to talk about some aspects relevant for the European Earth Observation sector.
Mr Williams first of all, could you briefly describe us your current responsibilities in the Virtual Earth project?
We have just been renamed the Virtual Earth Business Unit, so “Virtual Earth” in at the heart of what we are doing nowadays.
Our products & services encompass everything from our European route planning, consumer cd software which is called “AutoRoute”, that has been in the market now from some 13 years right through to our latest offering “Virtual Earth” which is a web based service. We begin expanding our international coverage for the service from the summer of 2006. We also offer “MapPoint Web Services”, which have been around for two years now, used for more traditional web base geo-location activity like store locators and fleet management. In between we have a business intelligence and analysis offering called “MapPoint CD” , allowing business to visualise their data onto maps which is very interesting for and relevant to industry. Customers & Partners have built numerous solutions & applications on the back of these products.
Microsoft is becoming more involved in the location based sector. The fact that we have a broad range of products & services, all related to mapping clearly shows our level of commitment. From our historical consumer route-planning base we have expanding in more recent years into the commercial sector developing both client base products and web service offerings. Virtual Earth is the latest result of that continuous development and will become familiar through the following:
A) A free to consumer service called “Windows Live Local” (WLL). Available at http://local.live.com this is a location based search enabling webusers to visualise the location of their search results eg. Restaurants, shops, then getting directions.

B) Virtual Earth (VE) as an Application Programme Interface, API. This makes VE a platform more than just a product. It is a tool allowing developers to integrate services allowing them to build up their own applications and solutions (mapping, searching and location functions)
Then, the Microsoft experience has been as a kind of kick off process for moving to geospatial information?
Yes, Microsoft is proud to have been in the geo information business for over 13 years now. Our consumer software, AutoRoute has been the number #1 route planning title in a number of European countries including the UK for over 3yrs and we have experienced much interest and growth with the introduction of our web based services
What is the main purpose of Virtual Earth service? And what are the differences with your competitors, Google and Yahoo?
Virtual Earth is really a platform that is an integrated set of online mapping tools and the idea is that companies, developers and government organizations can create online mapping and research experiences for consumers and commercial applications alike. The Windows Live Local (WLL) is the Microsoft MSN consumer version based on Virtual Earth.
In terms of differences between us and our competitors, I think the key difference is our approach; Virtual Earth is a platform, giving access to visualisation, spatial and data management services. Using Java and map object scripts which make it simple for developers, the API allows integration with existing databases, products and programmes (easily available and simple for people to build on for example ;customer relation management systems) Microsoft also has a huge available partner base, Virtual Earth represents a useful new platform on which they can develop & commercialize solutions.
I believe Microsoft has been dealing with studies; businesses analyses and of course looking for opportunities before Virtual Earth has been launched. What was the idea of the market study strategy on the development of the tool?
The real birth of Virtual Earth is an interesting story. Every year Bill Gates has a “think week”, where he takes time to read documents submitted to him with new ideas for the future. “Virtual Earth” was one of those ideas submitted in 2005 for his consideration on building an online virtual visualization of the world and able to search on that based on the searcher’s location. So, the timing was definitively right. NASA had come up with the visual earth with “Whirlwind” and Google was about to launch Google Earth. Virtual Earth was created by the MapPoint Business Unit and later the team had 80 days to put the concept together (launched in the US last year).
The development steps follow the existing lines: We already had the experience on mapping through the current web services offering. We also have the learnings from the MSN team from a local search perspective, and we know that search was becoming more a more central feature, initially for consumers, but this is a growing requirement in industry as well. The need to find the things based on your location, which is an extremely relevant part of the search, is definitively a very necessary thing. The location piece comes in two parts; the technology (“Locate Me”) offering an IP location (based on IP address) and then the visualization of that location. Finally I think “competition” has played an important part in our development. Microsoft is not doing this in isolation, there is a healthy competitive market for this (both the clientbased products and web based offerings) and that means there is a lot of innovation from all sides.
There is a lot of interest both within the geospatial technology industry and the consumer side. How do you see this technology connecting and impacting the citizen? How popular has the imagery layer been?
This is where for instance Google and Microsoft both have the similar strategy which is; the accessibility to the citizen enabling them to access information. The Virtual Earth platform enables people to have access to information which is already there; aerial photography, satellite imagery, mapping…which has always been available but not necessarily in a very friendly format to the citizen. Now in addition we provide an “engine” to provide additional information on the top of that. For example government organizations can provide the location of possible services including additional information which could improve the life of citizens (urban areas identification; water layers; display risk of flooding areas; insurance prices; etc). The information is not new but it has been put in together in a format which is more understandable, because it is visual and also it is available in a single base; This is certainly where Microsoft is coming from; enabling people “to look for data and at data” in a different way, in a way which is much more understandable.
And how is that success measured or the result monitored?
We are a little early at the moment, we haven’t released nor advertised the consumer version outside of the USA, however the number of people visiting the site today is increasing.
On the commercial side, we made the first API available for free in January of this year. In the United States developers are already building solutions on top of the API. In the summer of this year will be realising the full commercial API and we will measure the success of that result on that based on the number of solutions developed on top of it.
Virtual Earth is free online to the consumer, where is Microsoft going with this product? Who funds the programme? How much does it cost? Which benefits do you get from the use? Is Virtual Earth a value for money?
Basically MSN funds the free beta online system that you can visit today (http://local.live.com) , MSN has offered a free route planning service based on our MapPoint Web Services fro sometime now called “Maps & Directions” and “Windows Live Local” replaces this with exciting additional functionality like aerial imagery. ”Maps & Directions” previously was supported by advertising it offered services; a) finding a location, where people can go and b) getting a route from one place to that location.
“real earth in a virtual way” is your sentence describing “virtual earth”, do you think that EO industry lacks awareness on capabilities of the sector? What about branding ideas?
The capabilities within this sector are expanding rapidly. Broad “awareness” today is in part due to media interest and strong “branding”… It is very interesting that two key worldwide brands have come into the business and therefore partially driven the media interested … but as I have said earlier, competition in this space is healthy.
Do you believe on strategies to gather the public and user awareness?
Totally, we need both industry and consumers perspectives on that. What you can see today on Windows Live Local is already the evolution of what has been running since July last year; getting back the feedback from users, how they are using it, the reasons, etc. A lot of comments have been captured and implemented with one result being the updates to the map navigation on the user interface. In general terms; developers have free access to the API and we have encouraged new types of feature or actions, through online developer sessions called “mash ups”. We have a number of successful “mash up” developers around the world coming up with little applications using this technology to implement new things. For example, they introduced traffic information onto the map, so you can actually see the traffic flow in a particular area which is very useful for consumers planning a journey as well as a business managing a fleet of vehicles.
We do market research focused on consumer areas responding to a large degree to demand of commercial & consumer activities and of course we are taking feedback from our existing customers and we demonstrated to them and explained to them the additional opportunities which they will have with our new platform which they currently do not have with map point services. We definitively have a lot of customer feedback from that perspective as well a continuous awareness on new products; a combination of both things is necessarily.
Virtual earth certainly does some work on knitting the datasets together but for the most part, the company is not in the data creation business, How do you see the EO industry in Europe? Do you think in possible synergies within EO industry? How industry should be evolving? Maybe as providers?
Absolutely, interaction is essential to contact providers and I am sure that with the new platforms new providers will come along…they have the kinds of information useful to consumers and Virtual Earth is the platform which can allow that data to be visualised buy location. Microsoft primarily does business in a way that provides building blocks for other IT organisations , both inhouse and through partners to built solutions for potentially the data providers themselves as well as 3rd parties. For example in the US, there is massive interest in the real estate business for the use of Virtual Earth. We also have a lot of curiosity for government organizations which have already very powerful links with geospatial information systems but they are not accessible to the citizen and the challenge is getting that information displayed visually in a way that a normal citizen can find out, build and control resources (road route developing, etc). Because of that this new platforms will bring part of the solution for local authorities and national governments to be able to display that sort of information and make it available for free or at least in a very easy and low cost way to the citizens and customers.
The focus was primarily within the US, but we are seeing huge and large opportunities outside the US, for example; India, China and countries in South America. In those countries there are a lot of opportunities and interest in new markets looking for solutions for citizens. The market is expanding and they are getting the kind of geospatial information that is required, so the data provision is extremely necessary.
Providers will be necessary to feed with data the new platforms to establish the potential markets.
What is your opinion about Global Earth Observation System of Systems, GEOSS and Global monitoring environment and security, GMES? how can market for GMES should be created in Europe?
From my understanding, the key thing here is that GEOSS and GMES should make available platforms acting as vehicles which enable to understand the chain from data provision and acquiring the data into information giving access to the citizen. It should be also interesting the synergies with potential worldwide brandings to help to make the information available to everybody and expanding the geospatial market generally. Nowadays it is a very exciting time from industry getting data but also having the technology and platforms to deliver the information broadly and going a step further on the market.
In your opinion, what are the main obstacles facing the development of the EO market?
We have seen a few obstacles from our perspective, nowadays it is a question of balancing and prioritisation (how to prioritise the data; too few or too much). Microsoft looks for the perspectives and offerings; it is for others to produce and to incorporate as working solutions. We have commissioned some of the geospatial data for Virtual Earth, but mainly this information is not exclusive for our use. This is short term while we help to kick start some of the data acquisition but we are not in the data creation business.
Let‘s take one step further away, what next for the geospatial marketplace? where do you see the main opportunities for the EO industry in the years to come?
The market potential is enormous. From an industry perspective the geo information pump is primed and for the consumer the possibilities based on location are huge, we could foresee a time when based on where a person is or going to they can easily see meteorological or historical information as well as what is going on at the cinema, football stadium, etc.
Data is not information until there is a way to understand simply and a way for people to access it from anywhere. Helping to drive this conversion and having the chance to do more for improving the life of citizens; decision makers, governments and large institutions is a fantastic challenge. This will undoubtedly create additional demand on data providers and value added solutions.

illustration credits Microsoft
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Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley
Park, Reading, Berkshire,
RG6 1WG,
United Kingdom
Switchboard: +44 870 60 10 100
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In this issue of EOMAG, EARSC will have the excellent opportunity of
including an interview with Mr. Marco Malacarne- Head of Unit for Space
research and applications at European Commission. First of all, thank
you for taking some time from your busy agenda and giving us the
occasion to talk about some aspects relevant for the European Earth
Observation sector.

GMES
The ‘Global Monitoring for Environment
and Security’ (GMES) represents a concerted effort to bring data and
information providers together with users, so they can better
understand each other and make environmental and security-related
information available to the people who need it through enhanced or new
services.
- GMES has catalogued the benefits
obtained by Earth observing systems in monitoring for scientific,
economic, and societal benefits, Mr. Malacarne, could you provide me
with some examples?
First of all, GMES is the result of more than 20 years of public investment at EC level and MS level (including ESA)
in observation techniques and processing methods, modelling, data
assimilation into models, etc. A few examples are: space measurements
of ocean characteristics and ocean dynamics modelling, monitoring of
land cover, monitoring of stratospheric ozone concentration from space
and sub-metric observation of specific areas such as rapid mapping for
organization of rescue.
On the other hand, potential GMES benefits are being assessed now and GMES will be a necessary activity
to deliver benefits but it will rarely be sufficient. It will be
associated with policy changes, negotiation of internal agreements,
changes in behaviour etc.
As indicated by the preliminary results of
an impact study conducted by PWC, the main areas where GMES could
produce benefits are in relation to a better understanding of climate change and in relation to deforestation, where very significant potential benefits are estimated over the next 25 years.
Another potential impact area concern development aid:
Europe’s governments have set a target of giving annually 1 per cent of
its € 11 trillion GDP towards development aid particularly in Africa.
That is more than € 100 billion. A small increase in the efficient delivery
of such aid, say 1 per cent, would bring a value of € 1 billion. Using
a different measure, humanitarian aid agencies have estimated the
improvements which GMES can achieve through, for example, more targeted
responses. Calculations suggest that, when the benefits of GMES are
measured in terms of welfare gains for the recipients, they will indeed
amount to around € 1 billion annually.
But many other benefits will be strategic
in nature and largely unquantifiable. For example, it is difficult to
value benefits such as the ability to protect European peacekeeping
troops in action on the ground or to detect sites associated with the
production of weapons of mass destruction.
- Moving to technology itself, is GMES
illustrating how industrial and technological successes can be fully
exploited through complementary initiatives?
There is no need to oppose industry and
technology; industry is fully involved in technological progress.
Industry should exploit the relevant achievements of research to
implement competitive services at European and world levels. The implementation of public information services using up-to-date observations techniques and data processing methods is definitively the GMES main objective.
- How will be covered the bridge between research to operation?
Let me answer you by saying that there is no bridge between research and operations, but rather a continuum. Once implemented, GMES services should become prescribers of upstream research activities. Services should be improved and/or expand their scope:
there is a need for continuous investment in research and development
(when operating version N of the service, R&D funding should allow
to prepare version N+1)
- and more in deeply, how is the
investment in data management and high performance computing; common
standards, formats and mechanism of sharing information?
GMES should take stock of investment in systems and harmonization methods.
However, GMES is demand and service driven and we should implement
these systems and methods after carefully assessing that they improve
the efficiency and performances of the services. It is equally
important to be pragmatic & empirical and allow for system evolution. A top-down techno-push approach should be avoided.
- Logically the Infrastructure for
spatial information in the Community, INSPIRE and GMES fit together,
however, in order to avoid duplication of efforts and assure adequate
allocation of resources, more co-ordination seems need. How is the
connection between GMES and INSPIRE?
INSPIRE clearly addressed the harmonization
of data which is at the heart of GMES. The availability of data and
information, especially though GMES services, is a prerequisite for
implementation of INSPIRE mechanisms. That is to say that a bottom-up approach
regarding data exchange standards, data harmonization, etc, should be
considered, in order to avoid rigidifying what is already working.
- Is GMES covering the pillars of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection? GMES could be a model?
GMES could be a model of integration of services, of mutualisation of infrastructures and of harmonization of data at EU level. That is an important point because GMES process is carefully observed by major international authorities.
In this scene, I must also clarify that
GMES is merely an instrument: by providing relevant and up-to-date
information about the environmental and security issues, GMES should
clearly improve the awareness of EU citizen and the competitiveness of EU industry.
We expect that EU industry, and especially SMEs, will be a major user
of GMES information, not only for providing GMES-type services, but for
improving its competitiveness (examples of “global industry”-
such as big oil companies-interested by all the GMES domains, of
farmers, which should use GMES information for precision farming, of
clearly warning for pollution or for specific risks, such as asthma to
some tree species…)
- How do you see the specific role of industry in GMES?
On the one hand, upstream industry is necessary for the development of infrastructure, including space missions (where ESA has a coordinating role). On the other hand, SMEs should be providers of downstream customised/tailored services.
Downstream services could improve their coordination and/or networking
(even though there might be competition among them), in order to
improve their visibility and to consolidate their requirements with
respect to upstream general/core services and information, as well as
for R&D. That’s an important point because industry will be acting
as provider of some services, through service level agreement with GMES
authority, or contributing to services provided by institutions through
subcontracts.
- Do you think it should be necessary
to identify instruments that allow organising co-operation between the
Commission and EO industry sector in a more effective way? Which will
be the challenges and the opportunities?
In some cases, e.g. when direct institutional involvement in the
service provision is not required, there is a possibility to consider
an “end-to-end approach” (“service buy”), which means a Private Public Partnership.
Another possible approach might be that of “data procurement” agreements (“data buy”)
where the EC becomes an “anchor tenant” of data from EO industry. Such
financial engineering is likely to be supported by industry and
institutions, which normally prefer smooth funding profiles.
And there is also the possibility of R&D funding for EO industry, including SMEs, under specific programmes (e.g. FP7).
- Could you provide us an outline of the
three pilot services, candidates for fast track (emergency response,
land monitoring and marine services)?
To help everyone to understand, let me give
you some background information. The fast track services will start
their operational delivery by 2008, which means the need for
operational validation after 2008. Further pilot GMES services are of
course envisaged for later implementation (by 2009 and later). Just
summarising, the fast track services are focused on three areas:
– Emergency response:
reference and situation maps for supporting rescue operations and
humanitarian aid (EU civil protections in/outside EU with possible EC
coordination, EC DGs linking with UN and NGOs). Real time update of
information in link with forecasting centres. Use of VHR imagery.
- Land monitoring (focus on land cover): exhaustive
mapping of EU with a 1-5 ha mapping unit (along the lines of CORINE
Land Cover). Mapping of the main EU urban areas ( > 105 inhabs) with
0.1 ha mapping unit. Regular update (1 to 5 year) of the information.
- Marine service: forecasting and monitoring of the
sea state (dynamics and primary ecosystem) for global ocean and EU
regional seas (Med, Baltic, North, E Atlantic). Nested models with
variable grids. Basic information for downstream services (oil spills,
marine resources, sea ice, maritime safety, marine security, coastal
management, …)
GMES and GEOSS
- Moving towards a global scene, GMES
and GEOSS should work in concert to determine the plan for ensuring the
proper system(s) components and the proper architecture are in place to
meet user requirements, how is this management taking place?
GMES is the main EU contribution to the Group on Earth Observations. The European Commission is defining its strategy in close inter-service coordination and in dialogue
with Member States (GMES Advisory Council and GEO-High Level Group). It
is definitively a common interest at international level for the
harmonization of observing systems and exchange of data of mutual
interest. Europe need to use space & in situ data collected
worldwide and the meteorology example could be extended to other areas
of interest in ocean, land or atmospheric composition.
- Full and open sharing of data
between systems is essential, How is being built the architecture for
the technical operation of the system of systems (features as data
capture, data collection, processing, dissemination, storage/archiving,
exchange, products and services, etc)?
There is the need for “GMES existence” to
consider these issues at EU level, so as to affirm an EU position
worldwide. However it is unrealistic to propose a worldwide
interoperable architecture and it should be better to opt for a system evolution.
We need to avoid a top-down approach, by
being pragmatic and considering the appropriate time scales to
implement such as system. An example could be that of Meteorology (WMO,
cooperation between NOAA & EUMETSAT, etc), which took decades to
fully develop. Just to remark, some communities (e.g. oceanographers)
have already considered the issue, and have experience of coordination
mechanisms.
CITIZEN
Now that you have covered relevant aspects for GMES focus on EO industry, let’s move on the service for the citizen
- Integrated operational
information services to support User requirements should be the end
result of our collective efforts to develop a mature and sustainable
operational Earth observation capacity across nations “Society needs
information and services, not just data”, what do you think of this
approach? Is that demand-driven enough?
While what you just said is important, there is a challenge for GMES, passing from an offer-driven approach (Research and Development involving institutions and industry) to a demand-controlled one (service level agreements) and certainly a need to provide services
(i.e. information tailored for each specific user, and delivered
according to his requirements in an operational and sustainable mode)
and not data. The service provision chain, including
observation infrastructure, core service of EU dimension, and
downstream service for specific uses should be organised and
controlled. On the user’s demand level it is important to
remember the management of regional scenarios and the appropriate level
of aggregation, particularly relevant for new Member States.
Some examples of user involvement could be
the thematic workshops on fast track services (led by user organization
representatives) or regional workshops on GMES which culminate in Graz
Conference, organized by Austrian Presidency in April 2006.
FUTURE
- At the end of the interview, here is
the opportunity for your final thoughts on latest GMES developments,
which important benefits will be provided in the near future? what do
you see as the task ahead for GMES, in general which is your vision for
the future?
Let me address the timing perspective. In the near future: proving our capacity to deliver operational services by 2008 (“fast track” approach); in the medium term:
implementing the appropriate governance structure for managing the EC
funding and developing and implementing the observation and service
infrastructure allowing to ensure the sustainability of GMES (including
continuity of Space component, as proposed by ESA); and finally in the long term:
implementing at EU level appropriate permanent GMES governance
structure, allowing to operate the service through service level
agreements and concessions, and ensure the permanent upgrading of GMES
service capacity though R&D funding.
What is important to remember is that the User Driven Service approach is and should remain at the heart of GMES.

In this issue of EOMAG, EARSC will have the excellent opportunity of
including an interview with Mr. Robert Missotten – Chief of Earth
Observation Section.

Mr Missotten could you please give us a summary of the UNESCO
involvement in GMES [Global Monitoring for Environment and Security]
and in GEOSS [Global Earth Observation System of Systems]?
Giving a background, the Group on Earth
Observations, GEO is the framework defining governmental needs, while
GEOSS is the implementation coming out of this political force. Mainly
GEOSS is an intergovernmental activity that leads to the global
establishment of environmental monitoring systems. In the other hand,
GMES is the European contribution to the GEOSS, delivering independent
European monitoring capabilities for the environment and for security,
not only from space but also from other airborne and in-situ
instruments. Every partner in GEOSS will deliver what it has and
develops and UNESCO being an active member of IGOS (Integrated Global
Observing Strategy) partnership will bring expertises together with
several programmes; Global Observing Systems focus on Climate (GCOS),
Ocean (GOOS), Terrestrial (GTOS) and Atmosphere (GAW) and the
experience in gained in Committee on EO satellite (CEOS) working
groups. Through its international and intergovernmental environment
programmes, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Man and
Biosphere Programme (MAB), The International Geoscience Programme
(IGCP) and the work of its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
(IOC) UNESCO contributes essential expertise to GEOSS in the field of
the integrated monitoring and management of the Earth System and its
resources. Close cooperation with GMES is being built in the field of
the study of hazards of geological origin and the mitigation of
disasters
Which are the main differences between IGOS and GEOSS?
IGOS
follows an international agency approach which develops a strategic
planning process in order to achieve the necessary harmonization and
maximum cost-effectiveness for space and in situ observations, while
GEOSS is a country driven approach, definitively an important element
of national and global strategies for managing the natural resources in
a sustainable way.
Do you see new partnerships as a key to GEOSS?
During the third EO Summit in Brussels,
ministers from around the world endorsed a 10-year Implementation Plan
for the creation of GEOSS. That was very important because through
strong international and national cooperation, partners are poised to
build on and improve existing monitoring systems that will provide more
complete, accurate and accessible data and information to users and
decision-makers. UNESCO is looking forward to make use of its worldwide
educational, scientific, cultural and communication networks as well as
its high-level political and diplomatic contacts to strengthen new
partnership in GEOSS.
What are your
comments on the latest developments in the earth observation arena for
the service of the citizen? How will GMES and GEOSS be innovative in
the coming years meeting the expectations of the citizen?
Definitively GMES and GEOSS are
focused on the service of the citizen. Lots of achievements have been
done using Earth Observation but some of the key developments should be
improved and GEOSS will contribute to:
-the understanding, assessment, prediction, mitigation of disasters and adaptation to the climate variability and change,
-develop the capacity to improve weather forecasting and reduce loss of life and property from disasters,
-the understanding effect of environmental factors on human
health and well-being, and to protect and monitor ocean, water, energy
and land resources
GEOSS and GMES will not only advance our
knowledge through research, but more importantly stimulate the
emergence of new services to improve the quality of life of the
citizens.
In your opinion how industry could be involved in GEOSS as active partner?
The private sector could work in
partnership with government to contribute data to GEOSS. GEOSS being an
operational system, the private sector provides unparalleled technical
expertise to help guide the design and development of the system.
Industry will be a major user of the GEOSS capabilities and therefore,
must have the opportunity to determine new sector-specific requirements
(e.g., agriculture, transportation, management of natural hazards…)
Industry will be a major provider of new services with will be
beneficial to the civil society.
Are there any specific issues you find important for UNESCO addressing the GEOSS working groups?
Inside GEOSS, UNESCO is facilitating
activities that enhance international education, training, data
analysis and applications in EO techniques though a very specific
working group ….Industry must begin its planning and preparation to
ensure that their systems are consistent and personnel prepared to
capitalize on the opportunities that GEOSS will provide in the future.
UNESCO will contribute to a better understanding of the planet earth,
its environment and resources by stimulating an enhanced cooperation
between scientists and engineers of industrialized and developing
countries.
On EARSC behalf and personally I would like to thank you for time on this interview.
**
United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization, UNESCO
functions
thanks to the synergy between diverse stakeholders that together form
an international community. These communities include governments,
National Commissions, Parliamentarians, NGOs and associations. Among
them we also find the media, schools, cultural and scientific
institutions, private sector partners and the United Nations family of
institutions. Interesting to EARSC is that
additional important partners to UNESCO are also the space agencies,
space research institutions and academia.
Together,
all these stakeholders give life to UNESCO‘s ideals and values around
the world, at the local, national and international level.

In this issue of EOMAG, EARSC will have the excellent opportunity of
including an interview with Mr. Mario Hernández – Chief of the Remote
Sensing Unit, with strong activities implementing partnership with
Space agencies and governments.

UNESCO adopted the World Heritage Convention (WHC) in 1972, Mr.
Mario Hernández, how the remote sensing unit is contributing to this
aim?
The main role of the UNESCO remote sensing
unit is to provide access to space technologies and in particular
remote sensing, to UNESCO’s developing Member States.
Capacity building is our major goal. In order to initiate these
activities we took as the best test cases the famous and well-known 812
World Heritage sites. UNESCO established by the end of 2001 a joint
initiative with the European Space Agency: “The Open initiative on the
use of space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention”.
This is a call to all space agencies, space research institutions and
the private sector to join this “open framework” of cooperation.
Through this Open Initiative the space
agencies are assisting UNESCO in implementing projects to monitor World
Heritage sites and UNESCO biosphere reserves from space and
strengthening therefore the associated conservation activities.
It is important to assist developing
countries in identifying, documenting and preserving our world‘s
heritage, by selecting a list of natural and cultural sites whose
outstanding values should be preserved for all humanity. Nowadays
UNESCO has 812 sites part of the world heritage programme. UNESCO
should ensure their protection through closer co-operation among
nations.
Which is the selection procedure to decide on the interest of a project among the entire world‘s heritage?
It is a difficult decision, I always could say that we have 812
problems to solve or to help to solve… we are focusing on those 33
World Heritage sites that are classified as being in danger. Our main
criteria for selection is that the associated country is willing to
work in partnership with us. We do not want that remote sensing becomes
a ‘spy’, therefore the associated country must become a strong partner.
The first programme cooperation was with the European Space Agency
running together the Build Environment for GOrilla (BEGO) project. The
BEGO project dealt with World Heritage sites in danger in Central
Africa,. These sites host the last remaining 670 mountain gorillas.
This project demonstrated the capabilities of Earth-observation
technology to provide reliable, continuous and synoptic geospatial
information to all governmental and non-governmental organizations
involved in the conservation of World Heritage sites in Dem. Rep. of
Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Thanks to the generous financial contribution
of ESA, this project, resulted in a complete, coherent and harmonized
GIS to manage mountain gorilla habitat. In addition this activity has
significantly assisted UNESCO in launching many other projects.
Definitively UNESCO is strengthening
the RS and GIS activities related to biosphere reserves natural and the
protection of World Heritage. How is the merge of information?
Remote sensing provides very valuable
information: basic maps derived form satellite images, state of
conservation, etc. These basic layers of information are then entered
into a simple GIS system for the conservation of the site at local
level. After that the local conservation authorities start merging all
their ground collected information: GPS points, reports, etc.
The integration of Earth observation,
GPS, GIS and Web services represents a significant step toward
developing efficient and cost-effective tools to support the overall
conservation process: “observe,” map and monitor protected areas
worldwide.
Cultural heritage professionals are
currently employing space technologies, what are your thoughts on the
impact of these technologies?
This is a completely new field of action.
It is however complex. New high-resolution images available example
Ikonos and/or Quickbird) enable now the monitor of small cultural sites
from space. However earth observation is not enough, conservation
actors are intensively using GPS on the ground in order to document the
archaeological sites with extreme detailed precision. Once all this
information is put together, conservation experts are using larger
satellite image coverage (example SPOT and or Landsat) in order to
situate the archaeological site in its overall cultural landscape. As a
results space technologies are enabling conservation experts to make
‘virtual fly-through’ ancient archaeological sites. Space provides the
overall picture!
Earth Observation could contribute
significantly to the enforcement of international rules, to better
define local-national legislation and facilitates the making of
planning policies. Thus, there is a need to promote the use of this
technology mainly in developing countries.
Is UNESCO exploring new areas of cooperation with Industry?
For several years now, the United Nations
system has attached growing importance to relations with the private
sector. It is not only that the number and scope of such relations are
growing steadily, but, above all, their nature has considerably
diversified to range beyond purely financial objectives to ensure
regular dialogue, consultation and interaction. Recent approaches to
partnership with the private sector now aim to mobilize the full range
of resources specific to the private sector in the service of
sustainable development.
At the end of the interview, here is
the opportunity for your final thoughts on your vision for the future
tasks ahead for UNESCO?
In looking to the future UNESCO seeks to
reinforce the role of space technology in its various fields of
activities, and to strengthen direct cooperation with different
partners. UNESCO has the mandate to promote international cooperation
in the fields of science, education, culture and communication bringing
together all the multidisciplinary fields. UNESCO has to facilitate the
access of space technologies for developing countries. Through its
space education activities UNESCO wants to interest younger generations
in the study of science subjects and later to chose scientific and
technological professional careers which are essential for the
development of our knowledge based society
Thank
you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to meet with EARSC.
It was very helpful to learn so much about the current projects of
UNESCO and possible collaboration with our Association.

GMES offers an enormous opportunity for industry, and ESA needs
the support of the servicing industry: besides some core services, GMES
will deliver a wealth of data that can be further used by industry to
develop additional value-added services.

GMES offers an enormous opportunity for industry, and ESA needs
the support of the servicing industry: besides some core services, GMES
will deliver a wealth of data that can be further used by industry to
develop additional value-added services.

Whereas many questions are still open
regarding the financial engagements from Member States and from EC,
there is a danger that everybody watches everybody else, and the more
we wait the more data gaps we will have. This would be very detrimental
to the user confidence we manage to build over the last years regarding
GMES services.

The most important thing today is that ESA needs industry to
consolidate the GMES dossier and convince all our Members States to
proceed and the second thing is to make sure we avoid worsened data
gaps: we should start the development of the GMES space component as
soon as possible!”

Which is the added value for ESA to have an office in Brussels?

In Mr Dordain’s Agenda 2007, a close
relation with the European Union is essential, not only at high level
for strategic discussions, but also on a ‘day to day basis’: our office
in Brussels is a sort of “ESA embassy to the European Institutions”, or
more modestly is the ‘face’ of ESA for staff of the European
institutions. We also represent ESA to all other space-interested
stakeholders present on the Brussels scene. . We offer local support to
all ESA staff on mission in Brussels and accompany them as required in
their contacts with the EU people.

How is the typical agenda of an ESA representative at this office in Brussels?

There
are two types of activities. Firstly, we are of course dealing with the
European institutions themselves: we have very regular meetings with
the Commission at all levels, ranging for example from technical
meetings with the GMES Programme Office, up to high-level institutional
meetings such as the Joint EC-ESA secretariat for space matters. We
also meet with European Parliament, COREPER, etc. And we digest the
available information from the Union to the benefit of the Director
General and of ESA staff, most probably like most of other
representation offices in Brussels do. Secondly, we take the advantage
of having many groups and institutions represented in Brussels or
visiting the EU institutions, to meet with space stakeholders from over
all Europe, and even overseas. I can quote the example of the Space
Week during last February, which offered the opportunity to meet with
representatives of non European Space Agencies whom you could normally
not reach so easily together.

By the way, I invite the EARSC members,
when they have to meet with ESA, to think about using our office in
Brussels, as a convenient, easy to reach, meeting place!

Which is the model of cooperation set
out in the framework agreement between ESA and the European Community?
and in the EU treaty?

The Framework agreement is in force since
May 2004, for a period of four years, and can be further extended. It
is built on the idea that Commission represents the ‘user’ side for all
EC policies and that ESA can represent the offer when these user needs
can be matched by space developments.
The Commission has a privileged position to defend certain needs or
interests that cannot be so easily defended at the level of the Member
States. It is why it is important for ESA to have a good working
framework defined with the EC, on top of our well defined role to serve
the Member States, as laid in the ESA Convention.

Regarding GMES, ESA is now discussing
with the user communities and with EC since 1998 to try to reproduce
for the operational environmental and security monitoring more or less
what the user communities, EUMETSAT and ESA have achieved for space
operational meteorology.
Given the European dimension of the addressed problems and policies,
the principle of the Framework agreement can naturally apply: EC
represents the demand and ESA the space offer.

By proposing a shared competence on space
for the Union, the Constitutional Treaty would offer an even more
interesting ground for cooperation with the EU. It is clear however
that in absence of this new Treaty, the Community will continue, like
in the past – see for examples Vegetation on Spot-4, Galileo and the
space elements under FP 6 – to invest in space infrastructure and space
applications.
Again, this ratification of the Constitutional Treaty and the existence
of the EC-ESA Framework agreement are quite independent of each other.

During the last 30 years, Europe has
developed its presence in space, thanks to ambitious national policies
and the European Space Agency (ESA), how should industry understand the
actual partnership between the Commission and ESA?

When it comes to applications and to the
use of data, the servicing industry – like your EARSC members – should
be very happy about this partnership. If this partnership works, and we
of course all are working to that end, it will mean that more data and
more basic services can be used by industry to develop new markets. The
problem for industry to invest into services is the same as for users
entities to use these: can we guarantee tomorrow the sustainability of
the space monitoring systems and the availability of data? Again, the
model experienced for the space operational meteorology is a good one:
when developing a new operational system, EUMETSAT is planning for a
guaranteed lifetime of at least 15 years. This is quite a relaxing
environment for all people interested in developing services! Our goal
is to do the same for GMES, by a EU-ESA partnership that can be further
extended to other interested parties.

Now, we must be also clear that Member
States and EC will most probably reserve their available funding to the
deployment of the monitoring capacity and of some core services for
GMES, mainly of interest to the public institutions. It means in turn
that industry will have a fantastic opportunity but also will face a
certain risk to invest on its own in new services, for public
institutions, industry and the citizens.
EC FP or ESA investment will continue to be available for new service
developments, but obviously cannot cover all types of service provision
forever!

Without getting too involved with the
actual European Policy and ratification Treaty, what are your thoughts
on which may affect seriously to the European Space budget?

Space actors do not totally depend on the
ratification of the Treaty; like we said before, the Commission, and
other EU institutions by the way, would continue to invest in space
tools and applications. Of course with the new Treaty you could expect
to have a new budget line specific for the space competence: the
European Parliament proposed to reserve some budget in the EU financial
perspectives, to that effect.

How will Earth Observation be affected
by the next Ministerial Council (the meeting of Ministerial-level
representatives from ESA‘s member states)?

To simplify, we have basically two main ESA
programmes in Earth Observation domain. The first one is the Earth
Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP), which goes to the Ministerial
for a third period, with an approximate budget of 1.5 Billion € over
the years 2008-2012. This programme is the backbone of all ESA Earth
Observation development. Without that programme we could not be
prepared to build new satellites; we could not develop the ground
segment; we could not support science or prepare for operational
services. EOEP is financed by ESA Members States. The European
Commission is not contributing to this programme but is very interested
in the supported science and in the potential applications, for example
through the RTD framework programme and the activities of various
institutions and agencies such as JRC, EMSA, EUSC, …. . The second
programme to be approved to the Ministerial is the GMES Space
Component, a programme that is of the order of 2 Billion € and spans
the 2006-2012 period. The Commission and Members States agreed in
principle on this programme but we are facing the fact that the EU
financial perspectives for 2007-2013 are not yet approved. To
circumvent this problem, ESA is proposing a phased programme with a
checkpoint in 2007, when we know for sure the level of budget made
available by the EU and the practical arrangements between EC and ESA
to sue this money. We can also at that time fine-tune the some
specifications for the space capacity to be developed.

GMES will be on the process of
expanding its services beyond Europe. Could you tell us a bit more
about the level for these international relations?Are the GMES targets
not ambitious enough?

There are several points in your question;
the ‘raison d’être’ for GMES was to offer an autonomous and operational
access to Europe to the strategic information in environment and
security. This doesn’t mean that we should develop all the monitoring
capacity by ourselves, but at least that we should be able to have
different guaranteed data sources, and certainly an independent
capacity to interpret these data.

On the other hand, GMES is our ticket to
enter in the cooperation with other space-fairing nations. As such,
part of the GMES monitoring capacity will be a European contribution to
GEOSS.

Another answer to your question is that public organisations in Europe
– let’s quote humanitarian, food security, development agencies,
institutions dealing in economic cooperation – will be able to offer
services to overseas partners of Europe. The European industry will
also extent their serving market outside Europe.

We again have an opportunity since Europe
tries to position itself as a environmental champion so we can be well
placed to define reporting standards, for example for national Kyoto
inventories and reporting, sustainable forest certifications, etc.

The very fact that we could through GMES
partly check the national reporting for international environmental
conventions is bringing more confidence in this reporting procedure.

Do you believe that ESA and EU are making sufficient efforts towards the citizen? How can this process be enhanced?

Under the ESA programme “GMES Service
element”, industry and public institutions are developing operational
services for GMES. These services might not be really revolutionary
because we aim here at providing mature and robust services. In
directly ‘servicing’ the citizen, for example, the “Promote” project
warns registered citizens, by “sms”, about the local exposure to poor
air quality. However, in lost of the cases for GMES services, ESA
depends on so-called ‘Legally Mandated Organization’, which are the
officially mandates relay to disseminate higher-level services to third
parties and to the citizens. Let’s think about national meteorological
institutes, as an example, or regional, local environmental agencies.
We need to further convince the professional sector to recognise the
value in their own commercial practices of the GMES products and
services. Media coverage is also important and recent examples about
space-tracked terrain subsidence in Northern Italy and in London, and
major pollution events over the Netherlands have reached national
broadcast audience. Alongside industry, citizens must be convinced too
and lobby the political level!

On EARSC behalf and personally I would like to thank you for your very interesting comments.

Dr. Volker Liebig talks extensively about ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes in an exclusive interview for EARSC

What are your thoughts related to the recent Space Council meeting?

The European Space Council has been a very
successful meeting where the European Commission’s Communication on the
preliminary elements of a European space policy was discussed. The EU
will identify user needs and build a political will around them, and
they will take the lead in areas where applications are concerned. ESA
and its Member and Cooperating States will develop future space
technologies and systems and pursue excellence in space-based
scientific research. So ESA has a leading function in science,
technology and infrastructure, but also for those applications where
ESA is the implementing Agency on behalf of the European Union. During
the meeting, everybody around the table supported the proposal of
Commissioner Verheugen and the Director General of ESA, Mr. Dordain,
that GMES will be the next flagship programme in the cooperation
between the European Commission and ESA following Galileo. This is a
very positive and encouraging perspective for Earth Observation and we
are working now on the implementation of this approach.

Space is a mixed sector, with a public
political strategy on the one hand and major industrial interests on
the other. How is this duality integrated in the ESA Earth Observation
programme?

Well, we cannot really distinguish between
the Earth Observation sector and other space sectors on this question
and of course there are some specialities. First of all, the space
agenda is driven by a programmatic goal, showing for example a priority
for GMES. But we have also to continue to strengthen the technological
base in industry. We have in ESA the Earth Observation Envelope
Programme (EOEP) and this is the programme where we develop the next
generation of technologies through scientific missions. On the other
hand, we have the European industry and all the industrial interests.
So first of all, we have to make sure that we have in Europe all
technological capabilities necessary to maintain and develop a strong
industrial base in all strategic areas. And Earth Observation is indeed
such a strategic sector. If we are successful with the two new
programmes, the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) and GMES,
both of which will be proposed to the next Ministerial conference of
ESA in December, then we will have created a substantial framework to
further develop the European industry. And that is true both for space
infrastructure industry which will build up the space segment but also
for the value adding industry which is working downstream and is
creating additional value.

What will be the impact of possible new
alliances of space companies on the competitiveness of European space
industry? How does this affect the EO market?

A concentration process is taking place where the big companies are
merging into even bigger ones. Thus, in the private sector in Europe we
practically have only two big private consortia (namely EADS and the
Finmeccanica-Alcatel consortium). To a certain extent, this of course
is limiting competition in Europe. On the other hand, this
concentration is necessary to be more competitive in the global scale.
I am looking forward to see how this will develop.

How will this affect SME?

Smaller companies have to be careful to
find their place, because in this type of mergers, there is a tendency
of vertical integration driven by the big prime industry. However,
there are two or three companies now in Europe that can even compete in
a prime function with the big companies and this is a healthy
situation, because it creates additional competition. ESA sees it as
the task and duty to ensure that the small companies, which are often
in the field of applied sciences, can develop and find their place in
the world market. The ESA industrial policy has procedures called “best
practices of projects” where contracts are also awarded to non-primes.
We are also assisting them to develop capabilities.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the commercial earth observation industry is facing in 2005?

The down turn of the commercial market, especially in the communication
sector, and the effect of this on the launcher market, has led to
industry being in a very difficult situation. Of course this did not
start only in 2005 but some 2 or 3 years ago. So we feel, and this is
also the policy of the Director General of ESA, that we need urgent
programme decisions. Therefore the Ministerial conference in December
is necessary because this decision for future programmes will ensure
that the market can develop. In Earth Observation we have even the
chance to implement a major new field. If we are successful with GMES
we would have a second sector of Earth Observation in addition to
meteorology that goes into an operational phase and this would
significantly stimulate the whole Earth Observation industrial sector.

Could you describe to us where ESA stands on the user market?

Part of the Earth Observation Envelope
Programme is an element to develop the value adding market. In
addition, ESA has spent more than 80 M€ in the last years to develop
the 12 GMES Service Element projects. This has been done with industry.
So far, about 220 user organisations are using GMES services through
these projects. If we succeed with GMES, the downstream user market
will be put in a strong position to open up new markets, both in Europe
and at global level.

What do you think about what‘s being
done at government level in Europe? Some Members States are adopting an
increased budget for space applications? What about for GMES?

Member States are currently evaluating
their priorities in preparation for the ministerial conference. Most,
if not all, have expressed that GMES is a priority for Europe. I
therefore would expect that GMES would be well supported despite a
generally tight budget, in particular for the biggest Member States of
ESA. Although it is always difficult to start a new programme like
GMES, I am confident that the Members States will recognise the
strategic, industrial and political importance of GMES and support the
ESA space component accordingly.

Have you noticed any new interest in GMES beyond its current stakeholder community?

GMES is driven by European policy
priorities and its corresponding user community. We have a user
community for GMES services in the European Commission. For example,
the environmental sector, agriculture, food security, maritime
security, crisis management, humanitarian aid are among the services
using satellite-based maps. In these services there is a services
interest in the international area. We are developing new services for
international organisations, such as the F.A.O. where we can support
the food programme with space data evaluating very early in the season
how agricultural crop growth develops in order to prepare decision
makers for an eventual crisis. For example in Africa we have done this
analysis three times now. We also support other UN agencies. If natural
disasters happen, we develop services in the crisis management area
using satellite images, and provide them to UN organisations such as
UNOSAT, UNOOSA or UNEP.

ESA is committed to sustainable
development initiatives in developing countries: what concrete progress
in market development can industry expect?

In this sector, the market follows user
interests to a certain extent. But ESA, however, has taken an
initiative to demonstrate, together with industry and the space
agencies, what can be done in this field and which are the services to
be developed. For example the TIGER project is running in Africa with
application projects in almost all countries. The TIGER project is
implementing some of the recommendations of the World Summit on
Sustainable Development, WSSD, which took place in 2002 in
Johannesburg. If methods are developed then of course also the market
develops. For example if the administrations and governments in these
countries develop a new method based on satellite data and if the
method is successful and cost saving, then governments will choose
these new EO-based services.

Could you provide me with inputs for a two-fold scenario of
space sustainability using space applications? (actors, roles,
relationships, timeframe…)

Sustainability
is an important issue, not question, and I think that more and more
space based methods are used at least for other project management
services in order to reach the sustainability of activities. In the
environment this is obvious. On the other hand, using space
applications for sustainability only can be done if the space sector is
sustainable and stable enough that it can deliver and activate this
service, so there is a big dependence. Regarding the actors, of course
there is a close relation to governments. Therefore there is a public
demand in this area. It is important to guarantee a certain continuity
of services, otherwise the public sector will not invest in introducing
them. This is especially true for developing countries, where
space-based applications may be even more needed than in developed
countries. In this context, important players are international aid
programmes inside the UN system as well as the European Union or other
governmental and non-governmental organisations.

How is the European research programme going to include ESA‘s objectives in the space sector?

Well, first of all, I should say that we
are developing a common view with the European Union and with the ESA
and EU Members States. Therefore, when it comes to the EU and ESA, I
see a common programme that is coming up, not only in the technology
sector but also in selected future activities like Galileo and GMES,
and maybe in others. Nowadays we are discussing the space technology
programme with the EU. The debates are reflected in the orientation
paper of the last Space Council, developing a common space programme
for Europe. All the Member States include their national programmes, so
I think one idea of the common activities and the cooperation is to
make all the space activities in Europe more efficient because so far
we are not yet fully there. We still have a lot of national programmes
in Europe that are duplicating activities. On the other hand, Space is
a strategic issue and comparing Europe for example with the US, we are
in danger of losing ground in the most important technology areas.
Therefore, we have to combine our efforts. We still have many national
capabilities in parallel. We cannot afford to have redundant activities
in Members States with systems that already exist. There is some area
for improvement, which, of course, depends on the willingness of the
national space agencies and their correspondent governments, and their
willingness to focus on a European approach. I certainly feel that this
is absolutely necessary and we need to combine and to concentrate
developments and to fill other gaps with the remaining capacities.

How do you see the future in terms of
coordination with the European Institutions (EU, ESA, etc), the network
of technical centres and the cooperation with industry?

Well, as I said, the Council confirmed that
European space policy should include a true European space strategy, a
space programme reflecting the associated costs and funding sources as
well as a commitment by the main contributors as to their roles and
responsibilities. It is important that space has found a political
voice in the European Commission and that the EC will be a driver for
the applications domain in space. ESA will be the European implementing
Agency for European space programmes. ESA will use the European
capabilities in the member states including the network of technical
centres. We have of course to become more efficient in Europe, so we
have to make a trade off in the future between the “efficiency” and
maintaining redundancies. This is also true for industry. At the end, I
think industry and governments will benefit from the new cooperation in
Europe.

On EARSC behalf and personally I would like to thank you for your time on this interview.

During the Earth and Space Week hosted by the European Commission from
12-20 February 2005, Mr. Luc Tytgat, Head of the Space Policy and
Coordination Unit in DG Enterprises and Industry, European Commission
said the Commission supports Earth Observation initiatives and is
making an effort to find the optimal way to ensure that European Space
Industry remains highly competitive.

- Thank you for taking out time from your busy agenda and especially
for opening the first issue of the EARSC Newsletter. The Earth and
Space week was an unprecedented event, gathering various space related
activities, among which was an Earth Observation Industry Summit. What
is the opinion of the Space Policy Unit about the involvement of the
Space Industry during that week?

We had not initially considered an Industry Summit as part of the Earth
and Space week, but we saw so much interest from the private sector for
the event that we thought that it was our role to help industry to
express their views and expose their general objectives. It was an
excellent opportunity to have the private and public sector discussing
at the same place, at the same time, on the same topics of the space
dossier. This was also for us a success, because the number of
attendees assembled in such a short time has demonstrated a high level
of interest. We believe industry participation was effective and
successful.

- Space has become a crucial component for implementing the European
Objectives and policies, notably sustainable development, environmental
protection, mobility, emerging security or information society. How do
you see the contribution of the Earth Observation Industry to European
development in the changing scenario of the enlarged European Union?

This is a critical role that industry has to play, because we know that
in Europe we will never have the same level of resources that the
United States can mobilise for space activities. Anything done in
Europe in the space field has to be discussed with the private sector.
Industry should be a key actor in the definition of applications and
the design of different space solutions. Typically there will be
other missions in the spirit of the Galileo approach of a
Public/Private Partnership. Space industry in Europe is seen as a key
actor to support growth and competitiveness, which are the pillars of
the Lisbon Strategy.

- The infrastructure costs for space and ground segments in EO
systems are expensive, so it makes sense for the governments to share
costs with the private sector where possible. How do you see the
public/private partnership (equal shares of commercial and government
ownership) industry?

This scheme could be easy, if of course, we have a general
understanding of who is doing what. We believe that if we want to
deploy satellites aimed at strategic public services, the technological
risk, for example, should be on the governmental side. This was the
case for Galileo, but could also be true for Earth Observation. So the
first element will be that the governmental side is paying the research
activities and basic technology development. Then when validation is
complete, the private sector should take responsibility and consider
the best way to implement the technology since it has more experience
than the public sector to deploy infrastructure to operate and what is
more important, to generate revenues. A typical example is when you are
constructing an airport, where you have a strategic policy, investment
in infrastructure, maintenance of infrastructure and on the other side
income from landing fees and from the shops and services which make
money from the passengers outside the plane. There are many
different models in Europe for dividing these responsibilities between
government and private companies, from concessions to outright
privatisation. We have to find for each GMES service the right
financial structure and the appropriate role for the private sector.

- Could you please define the role of industry between, among
others; contributing funding, sustainable development, security,
expertise, process efficiency, value-extraction, technology growth,
public services.

It is not only one role; it is contributing funding and deploying the
infrastructure to obtain a return. Industry has good expertise in terms
of finding the best synergy of technologies and certainly for
technology transfer. I think it is a mix of almost all of this and it
is not only black and white.

- The European Commission is making a great effort for a European
Space Programme. Based on your personal encounters with national
decision makers, how important is the dialogue between industry and
government national delegates?

There must be some new platform for discussion, this does not exist
yet. Very often it happens that when a space programme is undertaken by
the space agencies or by different administrations, then industry is
expected just to react. We believe we should have a new approach
establishing platforms for dialogue between what industry can offer
versus the government perceived needs. When we design new technology
solutions, space solutions, it is never clear what is the offer, what
is feasible, where the risk is and so on. For example in the Framework
Programmes, on the EU side, when we consider a new programme, we try to
have this initial consultation. It is necessary to see the response of
industry on available capabilities. In short we need to have a platform
where the two sides find a forum to discuss, where the services and the
product are meeting at the same level.

- Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) will be the
European contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS), aiming to establish a global environmental monitoring system.
What is the EU role in the development and implementation of GEOSS?

On the implementation itself, it is clear that, with the GMES
discussions the Commission has initiated with the Member States and
with ESA, the European side will offer GMES as the contribution to the
ten years implementation plan of GEOSS. By saying this we mean that the
EU will have the possibility for a collective European response to the
plan. This is one of the main EU contributions, assembling a collective
contribution of infrastructure for the European and for the African
regions. And there is another contribution: it is clear that Europe has
already the capacity to have privileged discussions with different
partner countries in order to have an unified coordinated approach for
the different African countries. Such discussions have already taken
place and the PUMA and AMESD projects have demonstrated that it is
feasible, that Europeans provide the space segment whilst Africans are
the users and provide ground segment elements. It was possible with EU
funding from the European aid and development funds.

- GMES is an ideal instrument for international co-operation, what
do you think are the most important areas for international cooperation
in earth observation applications inside GEOSS?

GMES is designed to satisfy the European citizen’s needs and to support
EU policies. However it is true that the Galileo programme has been
opened to third party participation, and this concept could be reused
for GMES; we believe that Europe should propose to such countries to
construct an offer along the GMES approach. We have seen that already
with the Russians and the Ukrainians, who want to offer capacities they
have in order to reinforce the space segment. This can also be true for
the ground segment; it is also obvious that if we have satellites
operational in orbit and a country wants to help to develop the ground
segment, this is fine. First it will aid the credibility of the
European approach; secondly offer to European industry a market outside
Europe; and thirdly help to develop common standards. Standards must be
a priority: they are nowadays a critical point. When EU invests in
programmes such as Galileo or GMES, industry must think of standards
from the very beginning. This will help not only the users, but also
industry to cooperate to develop a cheaper solution.

- What are the most important steps that must be taken over the next five years to make the GMES system a reality?

To have GMES becoming a reality, we will need a consensus in Europe
on what should be the services to be supported; this is the first
condition and how they could be operated and funded in the long term.
The second condition is to have a management structure which enables
the assembling of the different components under the same architecture.
So today we have Member State investment in their own Earth Observation
satellites, we have ESA developing also technological satellites (like
Envisat) and we have also Eumetsat. What is missing today is to have
all the components supervised by a single authority, which then can
allow saving of resources. It can also promote interoperability of the
ground segment, and therefore reduce the (management) cost of the
investments, thus permitting a lower cost for access to image data. The
third element is of course to know who can be the operators.

- Will there be a public outreach and education plan to promote the potential benefits of GMES and GEOSS to the society?

There is a socio-economic study initiated, now managed by the European
Space Agency with support of the Commission. The study is trying to
identify what will be the socio-economic benefits from GMES, so the
intention is to identify what are the benefits for the society. The
study started in February and we expect to have the first results this
summer.

- What are the DG ENTR Priorities for the upcoming months?
The priorities for the forthcoming months are quite clear. We have
to secure and to have a clear definition of what is the European Space
policy what the content is, what the roles of the different parties are
and, more important, what are the priorities. It is important that we
have those questions answered, especially on space policy, because then
we can draft the space programme. This must be complete before end of
2005. This is a key goal for DG Enterprise. It is in the work plan of
the Directorate General and it has been endorsed by the Commission; it
is also part of the legislative programme of the Commission. We must
have all the legal and managerial instruments in place by the time the
new Financial Perspectives come into force, along with the Seventh
Framework Programme. All in all, 2005 is a critical year for European
Space activities.