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Editorial Spring 2011

There is so much happening at the moment it is difficult to know where to start!. I am writing this editorial on the eve of travelling to Washington to present to the World Bank on what EO service providers can offer to support WB activities. It promises to be a very interesting trip during which I shall also meet with the Alliance for Earth Observation (the US closest equivalent of EARSC) and several US companies. I shall be looking out for where there may be opportunities for European EO service companies and also if there is a useful role that EARSC can play in bringing them to the attention of the World Bank.

I see this promotion as the first in many awareness raising ventures which are about more than just increasing knowledge of EO services and what they can offer. For me a strong element is to help those inside organisations who already know what can be done, to have an easier time when they wish to procure industry services. If we can raise awareness amongst the management and senior decision makers inside the organisations then even if they do not drive the use of EO services directly, they will be far more receptive when presented with project proposals for approval from those who are using and wish to use EO products and services.

For the visit with the World Bank I shall be showing examples supplied by a number of EARSC members. I thank you for your support and we shall no doubt be contacting you for other specific examples in the future. All the examples received have been put into eopages which will very soon be going live (I am hoping to demonstrate using it next week – we are that close). To recall, eopages is a yellow pages brokerage service for our industry. Once it is live, service providers will be invited to put examples of products and services into the database whereby any prospective users will be able to search and find if a particular service is available. They will then be able to get in touch with suppliers either directly or through eopages depending on the type of service and the brokerage selected.

The second focus of our activities with a strong emphasis on awareness-raising, is with the O&G industry. EARSC has taken on the secretariat of a working group that was established following the successful workshop held at ESRIN, Frascati last September. We are working with a number of senior oil & gas industry representatives to improve communication and to organise future events. We are also putting together some tools that will hopefully enable an exchange between our two communities. I cannot say more now but you can be sure I’ll report on progress next time when I am hopeful we shall have a prototype working.

I have also held many meetings over the last few weeks which should in time lead to new opportunities. For example, I met separately with both NEREUS and ERRIN in Brussels. Both organisations act as umbrella associations representing European regions which should become significant users of data coming from GMES. They are also involved in two projects (Graal and DorisNet) recently started by the European Commission under FP7, with the goal to enable the uptake of GMES services. I shall be following these closely and looking to see how we can ensure that they create opportunities for the EO services industry.

You may also have seen that I have prepared and issued a position paper on “Exploiting GMES Operational Services”. You will find this elsewhere in Eomag. It was quite a challenge to reach a position that all EARSC members could agree with; but we managed it and the paper has been welcomed by both ESA and the EC. It highlighted three issues that are critical for EO service companies and I expect that we shall continue to develop our views on all of them. In this respect, we are examining the possibility to set up a workshop to look in more detail at GMES data policy and how our recommendations can be implemented. If anyone is interested to join an EARSC working group looking at this topic please let the secretariat know.

Just a reminder that the EARSC AGM will take place on 30th June and as usual it will be held in Brussels. We hope to have a good line-up of speakers and an afternoon workshop looking at new markets. More details will be sent shortly and I hope to see you there.

Finally, this is the 25th edition of Eomag. Congratulations are due to Monica for having developed and run this so successfully to reach this milestone. Eomag is one of our primary communication tools and feedback I have received shows that it is very well appreciated. Well done Monica and I look forward to the next 25 issues with great interest.

Geoff Sawyer
EARSC Secretary General