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Editorial 58 | Summer 2019

We have just finished 2 quite exhausting but very rewarding weeks covering 2 major conferences and a host of other events. I wrote on my blog about our 30th birthday celebrations. These took place on the 21st of June during our annual cocktail where we presented 4 awards for the winners of the product of the year (EARS for their Agriculture Index Insurance), partnership of the year (Orbital EO Solutions, Sea Pulse, Valencia University and GoHub), the start up of the year (Maptailor) and of course the company of the year (Planet Labs Germany). The last are the 6th winner of the award and the base starts to get crowded with all the winner’s plaques! Congratulations to all.

The cocktail was one of the highlights of our ExpandEO event lasting two days. Another highlight was the round table during the small company forum. We had the founders of three companies talking about their experiences in starting up and passing lessons on to all the new entrepreneurs around the table. Founders of companies formed in the 1980’s (Rupert Hayden of GAF), 1990’s (Giovanni Sylos Labini of Planetek) and 2000’s (Will Marshall of Planet Labs) gave interesting and contrasting narratives. We regretted only having one hour as the discussion could easily have gone on for twice as long.

The final highlight I wish to expose was the 2nd day conference which we called “A Day with EO”. It was a special event with 15 speakers during the day talking about how the organisations which they represented are using EO products and services. The story of a day with EO told how the ever-curious Little Prince, having moved from his old home on asteroid B612 to the Earth, learned how EO was helping improve his daily life and that of citizens around the world. You can find the illustrated story on our web-site.

The second major workshop took place in Frascati over 3 days. Hosted by ESRIN, it was organised by ESA, USGS, NOAA, EC, Fourbridges and EARSC on the subject of how to improve the measurement of the Value of EO. Around 60 experts from around the world and covering several important disciplines gathered to exchange views on how to develop clearer, stronger and credible messages for policy makers and citizens about the value of the investments being made in EO technologies. A series of round tables discussed the stakeholders’ needs, the experiences from other domains and then the value coming in 5 different areas; socio-economic, environmental, regulatory, innovation and entrepreneurship and scientific advances. A large number of cases were exposed from many speakers and covering many countries and several continents.

From EARSC perspective, it gave us an opportunity to highlight achievements from the SeBS project where the 10 case studies now completed were used to illustrate benefits in each of those 5 areas. It gave us the opportunity to compare and contrast the methodology which we use with that of others and also to identify a number of areas where improvements can be made. We anticipate that the GeoValue community, which formed the heart of those attending can be extended to improve these benefits analyses and to provide better evidence for policy makers.

The scope of the activity was explored. At previous workshops, the focus has been on SeBS like cases including different approaches from the different players. In this workshop we also started to look at other types of analyses mostly linked to or stimulated by the 5 themes. So as an example, the innovation and entrepreneurship theme had led to a dedicated analysis by EARSC into start-ups but also stimulated comments from Canada, Australia and South Africa about the industrial landscape. So it is possible that more knowledge can be exchanged on survey methodologies which could be extremely helpful to enable comparisons at the global level.

A side-event is planned for the GEO plenary in Canberra, to report on the findings of the workshop, to discuss evolution of the common effort and to encourage others to join GeoValue which is now also a part of the GEO work-programme. We shall be pleased if you can join us.