The most important aims of OBSERVE was the establishment of a permanent network of stakeholders that will continue working for the benefit of the environment in the Balkan area, and the adoption of good practices that have been applied for many years in the rest of Europe. Additionally, recent advances in Earth observation boost the use of novel satellite and in-situ sensors for the sake of the protection of the environment and the sustainable development.
To this extent, the OBSERVE coordinator (The Aristotle University) and other significant partners and coordinators from other cooperating European projects jointed forces and submitted two new proposals that have been initially qualified, currently are under negotiation and will start in June 2013.
The first of the qualified projects is called “IASON – Fostering sustainability and uptake of research results through networking activities in Black Sea and Mediterranean areas.”
Continuing the OBSERVE legacy, it aims at establishing a permanent and sustainable network of scientific and non-scientific institutions, stakeholders and private sector enterprises, located in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. The main focal points of the project will be the use and application of Earth observation (EO) in the following topics:
- Climate changes
- Resource efficiency
- Raw material management.
IASON aims at capitalizing on the experiences gained by five projects funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7): OBSERVE, enviroGRIDS, GEONETCab, EGIDA, and BalkanGEONet. All of these projects focused on enhancing EO capacities, knowledge and technology in the broader European Union (EU) region. Furthermore, they managed to establish links with a critical mass of research institutions, organizations, public organizations, stakeholders, and policymakers in the Balkan region, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea Basin. In addition, the coordinators of these projects are members of the consortium.
In order to achieve its goal, IASON will engage in:
- Visible and effective capacity-building and knowledge-transfer activities with regional research institutes and organizations, stakeholders and policymakers
- Demonstration of economic development through uptake of results, best-case scenarios and success stories
- Quantifiable engagement of research institutes, projects and networks
- Identification of projects in the thematic fields that have potential for future cooperation
- Creation of an innovative web-based common information platform with clustering projects that demonstrate synergy potential.
The second project is called “EOPOWER – Earth Observation for Economic Empowerment.”
Its purpose is to create conditions for sustainable economic development through the increased use of EO products and services for environmental applications. This purpose serves the higher goal of effective use of Earth observation (satellite and in-situ systems) for decision-making and management of economic and sustainable development processes.
The EOPOWER project builds on the results of the GEONetCab, BalkanGEONet, OBSERVE, enviroGRIDS, SEOCA, and EGIDA projects. The GEONetCab project produced global and regional marketing studies, success stories, marketing toolkits and valuable feedback from promotion activities and quick-win projects. This enables the EOPOWER project and the partners involved to benefit fully from the experience of the GEONetCab and the other projects.
The promotion activities of the various projects have been successful, but there are still gaps to be addressed. On the demand side, there are new target groups of potential end-users that are not familiar yet with the possibilities of Earth observation and that have not yet been reached. Involvement of these potential end-users is of cardinal importance for a successful application of Earth observation solutions across the globe. On the supply side, access to data is a necessary condition. The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) will provide this access to data, through the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI). The EOPOWER project will provide an extra push to stimulate the demand side.
This will be achieved through:
- Roadshow activities to promote the increased use of EO products and services for environmental applications, including capacity-building
- A portfolio of potential EO applications for economic development and environmental management
- The enhancement of the resource facility on capacity-building in the GEO web portal
- The establishment of local focal points (nodes) that actively promote and provide capacity-building on the use of EO for effective and low-cost environmental applications
- The establishment of a high-level forum of stakeholders (resource providers, international organizations) that have an interest in EO for economic development and environmental applications
- The establishment of a central feedback node that digests and shares information on incubators, innovation, successes, experiences, visibility, and provides brokerage and advice on resource mobilization.
Petros Patias, OBSERVE coordinator, is a professor and ex-chairman at the School of Rural and Surveying Engineering, The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, board member of the Department of Urban Planning, and Vice Rector at the University of Western Macedonia, Greece. His published work includes six books, four chapters in international books and 161 papers in journals and proceedings.