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Difficulty in scaling up. Can’t reach the researchers that want to use my EO services. Public procurement for research data services is really bureaucratic.

Any Earth Observation company executive may have said this at one point or another.

Niche markets can be challenging to navigate. It’s clear that the market for digital Earth Observation solutions is still developing. What your organisation needs is a little boost. This is exactly what the OCRE, the Open Clouds for Research Environments project, provides. 

Opportunities in the EOSC

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is expected to become the European digital marketplace and virtual environment for 1.7 million researchers and 70 million professional users of research data. It will allow researchers and science and technology professionals to access to a variety of data services and solutions, many of them free, at least from the users side. 

€400 million have already been poured by the European Commission to make it into a reality since 2017, and an alpha-stage prototype of what it could look like exists, as seen in the EOSC Portal (www.eosc-portal.eu). By 2021, a more operational EOSC is expected to be launched. 

Multiple projects have been funded to make the EOSC a reality. One of these projects is OCRE. In this current early stage of the EOSC’s development, OCRE provides a clear route for commercial service providers of cloud and digital Earth Observation solutions to be involved with the EOSC early on.

How to get involved

As of September, OCRE has been gathering the requirements of researchers and is pooling and grouping demand from various universities and research institutions into buyer groups. To-date. institutions from up to 39 countries have already expressed interest to be part of the tender. This represents a clear demand for commercial services. 

Aside from the commitment to procure in OCRE’s tenders, the European Commission has allotted more than €3.2 million in adoption funding to OCRE which will be used by these buyer groups and institutions specifically for Earth Observation services.

OCRE’s Earth Observation Tender is expected to be published within 2019. Once it’s published and the commercial Earth Observation services have been selected, consumption will begin starting next year, 2020.

OCRE will support the succeeding Earth Observation service providers to onboard their services into the European Open Science Cloud. This will be achieved through the active collaboration between OCRE and EOSC-hub, another EOSC initiative tasked with onboarding services for the EOSC. 

The tender is expected to select more than one succeeding supplier. This provides better chances for suppliers that will respond to the tender.

Next Steps

A Prior Information Notice will be provided by OCRE to interested Earth Observation suppliers allowing feedback to be provided to the OCRE Earth Observation Tender. Feedback will be accepted for a limited time only. Following this, the OCRE Earth Observation Tender will be published.

All interested suppliers are invited to join the OCRE Community Network as Earth Observation companies to be informed of the latest important tender developments: ocre-project.eu/join.

EO4GEO is an Erasmus+ Sectoral Skills Alliance aiming to bridge the skills gap between supply and demand of education and training in the EO/GI sector. Started in January 2018, the project will run for 4 years: almost at half of its duration, it is showing significant step forwards in the development of its results, which will be of interest for education within the space/geospatial community.

One of the project outcomes is the realisation of a Body of Knowledge for the space/geospatial domain. Thanks to a network of experts, the BoK will contain the definition of more than 1000 concepts of the sector. Up to now, the concepts have been identified: the experts are now starting to elaborate on them. More information on the development of the BoK are described in this article.

EO4GEO is also designing a series of curricula cleverly linked to the occupational profiles of the sector, with particular attention to the tasks and duties needed by the workforce. The clear identification of the skills needed will permit future workers to approach the labour market adequately prepared. How the occupational profiles are being identified is explained here.

EO4GEO’s curricula will also be based on the studies on the business processes in the EO/GI field. This innovative approach gives strong consideration of market requirements: the idea behind is that business processes show tasks that the workforce deal with during their work. Studying them will enable to understand which skills are needed. The design of curricula will also be the focus of the next EO4GEO workshop, scheduled in Warsaw on the 27th of November.

Follow EO4GEO on the website and on Twitter to be updated on the outcomes, activities, news and events of the project.

We are very pleased to inform our community about the release of the Space / Geospatial Sector Skills Strategy

The needs of the sector are constantly evolving, and we believe that helping the industry to find workers with the right skills and ensuring that they acquire the skills they need to find productive employment is key to the sector economic innovation, growth and competitiveness, therefore EO4GEO aims to define a long-term and sustainable strategy to fill the gap between supply of and demand for the EO/GI education and training.

This document presents the strategic views under the Space/Geospatial Sector Skills Strategy. It proposes a concrete vision, mission and goals that will be used in the definition of a long-term action plan (LTAP) to address short- and medium-term skills needs in the areas of skills, knowledge and competences. Specific actions to be taken by a diverse group of stakeholders are described, in order to establish an ongoing dialogue between the EO4GEO partnership, external stakeholders and entities within the EU directories (specially the European Commission DG on Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG-EMPL) and DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG-GROW)) and Member States through their Ministers of Education.

In this report, a first version of the strategy is outlined, aiming to reduce the gap and eliminate the mismatch between the supply of and the demand for education/training in the Earth Observation (EO) and Geographic Information (GI) sector taking into account wider technological, societal and policy developments. The LTAP which will be created based on the Sector Skills Strategy recommendations outlined within, and discussions stemming from, will then be updated as appropriate to take account of lessons learnt throughout the EO4GEO project, open discussions with stakeholders and also future technological, societal and policy developments.

The VISION of the Sector Skills Strategy is to foster the growth of the European EO/GI sector ensuring a workforce with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time.

The MISSION of the Sector Skills Strategy is to ensure the strategic cooperation among stakeholders on skills development in the EO/GI sector (Sector Skills Alliance). This cooperation will support growth, diversity, and flexibility of the sector by providing harmonized and improved educational offers at a range of different learning levels including VET and academic training and the development of new occupational profiles for the EO/GI sector.

By adopting a forward-looking perspective, the following GOALS have been identified for the successful implementation of the Sector Skills Strategy. These goals might not be fully reached during the EO4GEO project but are recommended to be followed up as part of the LTAP:

  • A strategic collaboration between the skills alliance, private sector, government and “end user” sectors is established.
  • A political commitment at EU level (DG-GROW and DG-EMPL) to stimulate innovative skills development policies is ensured.
  • A coordinated effort to improve competitiveness and to penetrate other sectors through market intelligence across stakeholders is created.
  • The EO/GI awareness of and engagement with “end user” sectors is improved leading to increased uptake of Copernicus data and information services.
  • Harmonised curricula and training offers (including workforce mobility) at pan-European but also international levels are improved and developed.
  • A standard for describing key qualifications is promoted.
  • The use of EO/GI services as an inspiring and innovative context for learning across all age groups and value chains is encouraged and supported.
  • Skills needs are mapped to better define teaching supply, with a focus on flexible learning pathways.

If you have interest on the Space-Geospatial_Sector_Skills_Strategy, please contact EARSC. This strategy is now opening a dialogue with stakeholders as well as to stimulate discussion on priorities and concrete measures, in order to facilitate the implementation of future upskilling strategies.

More information on EO4GEO "Towards an innovative strategy for skills development and capacity building in the space geo-information sector supporting Copernicus User Uptake” could be found at http://www.eo4geo.eu

eoMALL beta release is now live

eoMALL beta release is now live (https://eomall.eu) to help EO and non EO users understand how online services are used and to access them, to help companies improve their understanding of the online market customer’s needs and get leads. Discover the spirit of the future eoMALL, its landing page, its navigation, … your feedback is more than welcome. Currently as a beta version, discover the first services promoted and companies involved in the platform. Other companies and services are already planned. Want to promote your services? Contact us!

EARSC EO product award for 2019 will recognise a product which will support overall sustainable development projects or the implementation of the SDGs at national, regional and/or local levels, and the monitoring and reporting against the global indicator framework.

In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include a broad range of sustainable development issues; ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

The SDGs are being launched with an emphasis on collecting data that will be extensive and specific enough to serve these needs. They are designed to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. European EO industry can help achieve the SDGs by providing critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, and population demographics.

EARSC EO product award will recognise a product which will support overall sustainable development projects or the implementation of the SDGs at national, regional and/or local levels, and the monitoring and reporting against the global indicator framework.

The competition will run until April 2019 during which time candidate companies may adapt an existing product, develop a new product or simply promote one they have already in their catalogue. Companies will be asked to provide a short summary of the results (report should not exceed 2 pages) which will be used as statement for the jury.

This year’s award will be announced during the EARSC annual cocktail where the winner of the EARSC “European Earth Observation company of the year” is also revealed.

This is your opportunity to follow in the steps of previous award winners and benefit from the prestige of winning an EARSC award!

Criteria: eligibility requirements & metrics

o Any commercial product which will support the monitoring and reporting against SDGs
o Report on the findings (recommendation 2 pages):
-Explain what type of product the company offers
-Describe the challenge: What problem this product will solve/what solution will this provide? How will this product contribute to the monitoring of a particular SDG?
-Explanation of the circumstances surrounding the development of this product and the identification of the SDG which will support or the monitoring and reporting against the global indicator framework.
-Expected impact to address

Timing
Expression of Interest: by 15th March 2019
Dead-line entries & guidance: April 30th 2019
Selection: the files will be judged by the jury to select the overall product winner (May 2019)
Announcement: EARSC cocktail & AGM 2019 in Brussels

Download Template form European Product Award 2019

More info at info_at_earsc.org

EARSC, is conducting its industry survey to map the state and health of the companies providing EO services in Europe for the fourth time. Make your voice heard, answer the survey now!

Answer the survey

Previous reports can be found at the following link. Now in 2018/2019 we shall update the survey with the following objectives:
- Characterise the business of the EO services industries in Europe
- Understand the way in which the industry sector is evolving
- Identify the key issues that the industry is facing today and over the next few years
- Assess the impact of Copernicus on the sector.

The series of reports are very strongly appreciated by European stakeholders (European Commission, European Parliament, ESA) as well as national representatives and they represent an extremely important tool for projecting the sector and to influence policy decisions (for example concerning the next phase of Copernicus). Please take the time to complete this core survey and if possible to talk with us afterwards to complete the full survey which has more subjective questions. The opinions and trends collected are widely used and the more companies which respond the more solid are the results.

GUIDELINES

Once past the first page you can go right through the survey and/or you can return to complete the survey on several visits. If you wish to get an overview of the entire survey you can download it in pdf.

Use of the data: The data you provide using this survey will strictly be seen only by the project team. The data you provide here will NOT be presented to other parties or made public – only cumulative or statistical formats (totals, averages, variances, etc) of the data provided by all of the respondents will be provided, to ensure that no confidential data is revealed.

All data collected will be held under password protected and secured control and every effort will be taken to ensure that it is secure.

Scope of the survey: we are seeking inputs from companies for whom satellite­-derived EO data is part of their business. These may be satellite operators, EO service providers, Geospatial information providers or internal service departments inside companies engaged in an entirely different business e.g. oil&gas, insurance, construction etc.

Data should be for the last full financial year ie 2018 whenever it is possible. If this means completing the survey early in 2019, then we would prefer to wait and have accurate data. However, if the end of the financial year is different ie 30th June 2018 then fill in this data as for 2018. If precise data for 2018 will not be available before end of March 2019 (when we close the survey), we would prefer to have a reasonable approximation than nothing. We open the survey now to provide you with enough time to give us accurate information. We will leave it open until March, but we would appreciate your response as early as possible, consistent with the availability of good data.

POINTS OF CONTACT

Please feel free to contact EARSC at any time if you have any questions; Irene Doda EARSC Junior Policy Officer (irene.doda@earsc.org) or Mónica Miguel­ Lago, EARSC Executive Secretary (secretariat@earsc.org)

Thank you for completing this EARSC industry survey!

Answer the survey

the GEO-CRADLE project officially closed in November 2018, but the GEO-CRADLE network, which was established in the region of NAMEBA during the lifetime of the project, will not be closed. Our team, including myself and my colleagues, with the support of the Regional Coordinators, will continue to increase this network and our services in this Region!

More specific, GEO-CRADLE became a GEO Regional Initiative with the approval of the 2018 Work Programme Progress Report in Kyoto during the GEO WEEK 2018! This Initiative is a continuation and extension of the work of the GEO CRADLE Community Activity, which provided EO capacity building in the North Africa, Middle East, and Balkans (NAMEBA) region, now with potential to expand to the Black Sea. Also, on top of food security, energy, raw materials and climate change the Initiative will explore the incorporation of additional thematic areas such as disaster
management and water resources management, in accordance to GEO priorities.The Initiative will capitalise, sustain and scale up the results mainly achieved during the implementation of the 3-year H2020
GEO-CRADLE project.

In addition to that, our activities will be continued towards the development of Copernicus and Eurogeoss Initiative in the regions through the involvment of our team in the EUROGEOSS Showcases project.
The project will implement a coordinated and comprehensive EO data exploitation initiative through collaboration amongst the European GEO Members and Participating Organizations, in order to accelerate the users’ uptake of open EO data and information for the benefit of Europe. The general objectives are to set-up and promote a sustainable organization dedicated to users’ uptake of European EO resources, building on Copernicus and GEOSS through the development of co-design pilots (i.e. application-oriented products, services or solutions) built on a user-centric approach and delivering economic, social and policy value to European citizens.

Moreover, the GEO-CRADLE’s Liaison Office (Greek GEO Office), facilitated the procedure towards establishing in Albania a National GEO Office.

Finally, I would like to thank all the partners for their contribution in the implementation of the Project because without them it would not have been possible to make GEO-CRADE a successful Coordination and
Support Action project!

Read our news at:
http://geocradle.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/GEO-CRADLE-Newsletter-Issue-9-January.html

The second EO4GEO workshop and progress meeting took place in Patras, Greece from December 4th until 6th. EO4GEO is an Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliance gathering 26 partners from 12 countries from academia, private and public sector active in the education/training and space/geospatial sectors. EO4GEO aims to help bridging the skills gap between supply and demand of education and training in the space/geospatial sector by reinforcing the existing ecosystem and fostering the uptake and integration of space/geospatial data and services in end-user applications.

The workshop was part of the current preparation of the Space/Geospatial Sector Skills Strategy. More specifically, it was meant to assess skills shortages, gaps and mismatches between the GI and EO education and training offered by academic institutions and VET providers on the one hand, and the knowledge, skills and competencies required by the market on the other hand. Results and findings from the EO4GEO surveys on the demand for and supply of EO/GI education and training in Europe were further analyzed and discussed, while also new trends, challenges and opportunities were taken into account. Some first results and insights on skills gaps and mismatches were discussed, and additionally a group of experts on skills assessments and strategies (in the GI and EO sector as well as in other sectors) were invited to discuss the future possible paths concerning the evolution of the skills and competences. In other words, an overview of the work done so far was provided, but at the same time there was room for an extensive interactive discussion by making use of breakout sessions and panel discussions.

The first intermediate results show that there is strong need for a common language for talking about EO/GI skills and occupations and point to the relevance of developing a Body of Knowledge (BoK). Existing occupational profiles related to EO/GI should be updated and new profiles should be defined, and the terminology on relevant skills should be clarified. Throughout the surveys and additional analysis and activities, it was found that there is often a confusion between skills, knowledge and competences, which are often intermixed and not used in a consistent way. An important question during the break-out session was related to the strategic actions that should be included in the development of the future space/geospatial sector skill strategy. In addition, future skills, and (potential) shortages and mismatches were discussed. Some interesting thoughts which require a more in-depth look in the next few months (related to both the Sector Skills Strategy and the skills, shortages and mismatch analysis) are for example fostering the use of GIS in secondary school and stimulate (geo)spatial skills. Although this is not the focus of EO4GEO, among some participants there was a consensus that this could prevent certain shortages (mainly related to soft skills and basic spatial skills). Related to future skills and competences, a main point of discussion was related to the separation between up- and downstream which is becoming more blurred. In addition, also the need for a more extensive trend watch was stressed. Furthermore, it was discussed that working in project teams will become the norm and that there is an ongoing trend away from professions, towards what can be called “skill-based positions”. Related to actions to bridge gaps, it was mentioned several times that soft skills needs to be incorporated in the BoK. Bringing stakeholders (also beyond the EO/GI sector) together to develop or give input for the BoK was another aspect mentioned. These and many other thoughts and results of the workshop will not only provide further input for the assessment of skills shortages, gaps and mismatches between supply and (future) demand, but also provide input for both the GI and EO Sector Skills Strategy, which will be finalized during the first months of 2019.

@Workshop organized by U. Patras and KU Leuven
Contact us or subscribe to our newsletter to receive EO4GEO news

Can more rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) and uncertainty evaluation of the EO end-to-end supply chain play a role in increasing the uptake and overall value/benefit of EO based products and services? And could this be further enhanced by the creation of some form of ‘certification’. This workshop should explore existing insufficiencies, roles and responsibilities of various actors along the chain, opportunities for improvement and a road map for implementation.

Register to the workshop here: https://goo.gl/forms/A4m2TU9MX5RlLdup2

Context and Background:
The EO services sector is changing very rapidly. New data sources, cloud storage and processing, artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies are all dramatically altering the businesses working in the sector. New entrants are challenging the established players and many new services and business models are emerging. There is a clear trend to on-line services which was confirmed by the EARSC “MAEOS” survey of stakeholders and during a recent workshop held by EARSC.

The digital societal trend is to throw new products and services out there and promote them for users to pick up and exploit. Whilst this works for consumers who prefer to pay less but with uncertain quality, it is less clear that it will work in the business-to-business or business to government markets where quality has a higher value and may in the former case, if left unchecked, ultimately lead to damage for the market as a whole.

In this context, we need to consider if a QA system facilitating more rigorous assessment and more comprehensive/consistent reporting of quality metrics at all stages of the data/information production process is in practise an enabler of market growth? Not only does it remove the need for costly, often duplicated QA, at the various stages of product development it also removes a potential barrier to free and open competition by enabling informed customer choice. A European led QA system, potentially underpinned by a formal certification schema could provide competitive advantage for early adopters as they seek to address needs of discerning (risk/high value/public sector) customers and their intermediaries.

Quality assurance should demonstrate that the data are consistent with their claimed performance and contain enough information to allow them to readily assessed for their ‘fitness for purpose’. Data integrity will play a key role: at the highest level, data integrity is taken to mean “a measure of confidence in the data, arrived at by characterising and monitoring quality at specific points along the production and dissemination chain”. Data Integrity (DI) includes the analysis of:

- Quantitative ‘traceable’ error/uncertainty information contained within the data and its basis;
- Data quality – based on the documented and accessible results of routine Quality Control checks and calibration and validation activities;
- Data accuracy – based on specialised data evaluation and comparison exercises;
- Data availability – considering the length, coverage and operational scenario of each mission and the performance of data production within the ground segment;
- Data accessibility – considering data policy issues and the practical implications of accessing data;
- Data provenance – considering the origin, evolution and status (e.g. uncertainty evaluation) of the algorithms and processes applied to the data.

All of the above will contribute towards an overall view of the data’s fitness for purpose for a given application.

On data provider side, in the context of QA4EO (Quality assurance framework for earth observation, http://qa4eo.org/ developed by international consensus in the context of CEOS), previous work has been carried out by ESA with the support of National Metrology Institute (NMI like National Physical laboratory in UK). In particular, the process related to quantitative error/uncertainty estimates for core EO products was discussed in a workshop at ESA on 24/25 October 2017: Workshop on Uncertainties in Remote Sensing. Click here ESA has also initiated support activities through its FRM series of projects and is looking to build on QA initiatives developed in the context of the ESA CCI program and also pioneered in EU projects such as QA4ECV, GAIA-CLIM and FIDUCEO.

On the service side, previous work on this carried out by Hollidge Consulting Limited (IE) on behalf of ESA and EARSC has firstly focused on:

1. Management process where a dedicated scheme was introduced to streamline or prepare for full ISO9000 certification and the concept of the ‘Product Specification’ introduced for EOP Products

2. Some initial thinking around product certification including consultation with user communities on their interests. A product certification scheme has been investigated as a result.
Two workshops were held to test and consult on the proposed scheme; in April 2013 which initiated the work and a second one in November 2014. The latter was held in co-operation with the International Oil & Gas Producers Association; one of the key user sectors with an expressed interest in certification and this exchange will be further expanded in this workshop.

During these discussions, a clear need to provide “certified” quality information for the complete EO end-to-end chain has been expressed.

In a parallel activity NPL is also leading a program of work to establish a QA framework for the Copernicus climate change service.

The workshop will look to build upon this current basis, as outlined above, in conjunction with key stakeholders from the risk sensitive and high commercial value sectors, but will also encourage input from other public and private sectors as well as service providers and developers , . The main goal will be to gather the views of the various stakeholders and to establish what next steps in QA, Uncertainty evaluation and reporting and/or certification would be perceived advantageous for them (if any).

Stakeholders:

Three communities of stakeholders should be involved:
• EO service companies
• Suppliers to the EO service companies i.e. data suppliers, satellite operators
• Clients of the EO service companies i.e. users.*

Each element of the supply chain should be explored. The workshop should look at:
• What is wanted by the EO Service Companies from the suppliers of satellite data and/or lower level products
• What is expected by end users/customers
• What requirements do EO Service Companies place on themselves with respect to quality (Approaches to product output validation and the proof of product/service performance vs. claims)
• What level and nature of governance if any should be implemented
Size and Location

You can register to the event here: https://goo.gl/forms/fMRSfeAcBZ8seMiQ2