OBSERVER: Copernicus in EU Space Week 2022— Spotlight on the User Consultation Platform, the General Assembly of the Copernicus Networks and on the future of Copernicus!

OBSERVER: Copernicus in EU Space Week 2022— Spotlight on the User Consultation Platform, the General Assembly of the Copernicus Networks and on the future of Copernicus!

OBSERVER: Copernicus in EU Space Week 2022— Spotlight on the User Consultation Platform, the General Assembly of the Copernicus Networks and on the future of Copernicus!

Thu, 06/10/2022 – 14:33

It’s a wrap for EU Space Week 2022 (EUSW)! With 3.000+ registered participants, 1.100+ onsite attendees, 18.800+ online watchers (incl. 3.350+ unique visitors), 100,000+ impressions on Twitter, this edition has been a success!  This edition brought together diverse actors in the space sector, from institutions to experts, enthusiasts, academia and entrepreneurs. Throughout the week, participants interacted with the 150+ speakers in the 35 sessions on developments and new initiatives planned for the EU Space Programme. Topics ranged from upcoming research and investment opportunities via Horizon Europe to Space 4 Equality, CASSINI matchmaking and updates on the status of core components of the EU Space Programme.

Copernicus in the User Consultation Platform (UCP)








Copernicus featured prominently in this year’s edition of EUSW. Sessions organised within the framework of the EU Space User Consultation Platform (UCP) invited Copernicus users (i.e. business and industry leaders, entrepreneurs, service providers, innovators, and space applications user communities) from various market segments to discuss their needs and requirements. For example, one of the sessions on “renewable energy” highlighted how the energy transition and RepowerEU can be effectively supported by a wide range of Earth Observation-based solutions. Other UCP sessions debated how Copernicus supports all the phases of the infrastructure life cycle, from initial site selection to monitoring of construction and post-construction operations, and how Copernicus helps with the monitoring of geohazards, post-disaster damage assessment and building inspection. The in-depth discussions on the evolving needs of the users of satellite data are instrumental in identifying strategic objectives for the future development of EU Space applications. Moreover, the exchanges allowed space stakeholders to share their experiences and expertise to further boost innovation, non-dependency and competitiveness. Finally, it allowed representatives from all the components of Copernicus ecosystem to explore new synergies and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the sector.

As far as the lessons learned from the UCP are concerned, stakeholders emphasised that gaps in areas such as R&D in big data processing need to be looked into. On the same note, private investments focusing on downstream space applications could be further stimulated. In addition, Earth Observation value propositions will result from end-user pull rather than from technology push. Particular focus should be put on steering revenue and consumer behaviour towards environmental friendly space-based solutions. Finally, efforts should be deployed to ensure public institutions and NGOs increasingly use EO-powered products and services to multiply their impact and benefits while raising awareness on their societal value.

Recap of the 2022 General Assembly of the Copernicus Relays and Academy networks

After a 2021 General Assembly of the Copernicus networks (GA) held online as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 edition took place in a hybrid format on 3-4 October, in the framework of the Prague EU Space Week. All in all, the 2022 GA proved to be a resounding success with 131 Academy and Relays members tuning in. The GA fostered the development of innovative ideas, initiatives for Copernicus user uptake as a result of two half days of intense to networking, updates on new activities across the Copernicus ecosystem and the deepening of the synergies with the other elements of the EU Space Programme.

Hosts: Julien Turpin, Theodora Antoniou, Annekatrien Debien, Stéphane Ourevitch (left to right)

Feedback from the panel discussions, round tables and training sessions organised by the Copernicus Support Office was overwhelmingly positive. With over 309 members spread across 52 countries spanning 6 continents, it is clear that the Copernicus networks have established themselves as an invaluable tool for user uptake, training and skills development and awareness raising. Nevertheless, as noted by Dinka Dinkova, Deputy Head of Unit for International Relations and Communication at DG DEFIS, “There are still a lot of opportunities to use this momentum, be more inclusive and develop the Copernicus footprint around the world to reach more potential Copernicus network members in underrepresented regions such as Asia and Africa”. On the future of the Copernicus networks, Jolanda Van Eijndthoven, Head of Unit for International Relations and Communication at DG DEFIS praised “the very successful development of the Copernicus Academy and Relay networks. Indeed, the European Commission will look into ways and means to use this architecture as a model for other components of the EU Space Programme to further increase the uptake of EU space data.”

The Status of Copernicus and what is on the horizon

After almost 25 years since its creation, Copernicus has become the reference Earth Observation initiative. While the data and services it provides to hundreds of thousands of its users is well known, a dedicated session on the current status and future of Copernicus showcased its latest achievements and success stories highlighting the key evolution axes of Copernicus services over the recent past. The session also provided a deep dive into how the EU is using Copernicus services to achieve major policy goals, such as the Green Deal and Digital Transformation. Finally, participants were given a glimpse into the future of the system.

Copernicus helps deliver on EU policy ambitions

Mauro Facchini presenting on the evolution of Copernicus at the EU Space Week

The increase in greenhouse gases emissions has caused a fundamental disruption in the Earth’s climate. Europeans have already seen the disastrous consequences and the costs resulting from a warming planet. Year after year, people have seen their environment, property and livelihoods increasingly threatened by natural disasters. In order to tackle these environmental challenges, the European Commission has launched its Green Deal with the goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050 and anchored this ambition into the EU’s Climate Law. Overall, the Copernicus component of the EU Space Programme promises to play an instrumental role by supporting this green transition thanks to the authoritative information and services it provides. In addition to climate mitigation, other main policy areas identified in the Green Deal and which Copernicus can support include monitoring biodiversity, forest health and deforestation, and marine environment, providing information on soils, plants and water quality and availability, thus supporting sustainable agriculture. Moreover, Copernicus is also enabling the digital transition.  Copernicus data is essential for the future of smart cities, namely for urban mapping, planning and infrastructure monitoring. Copernicus will equally be exploited to enable better urban transport and smart waste management.

Copernicus latest achievements and evolution of the services over the last year

Thanks to the high quality and freely accessible nature of the data, Copernicus products continued to be widely used by both public and private entities. The increase in frequency and damage of natural and man-made disasters as was most recently exhibited during this year’s forest fire season led to the dramatic increase in the solicitation of the help of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS).

Copernicus EMS Rapid Mapping of wildfires in Castilla La Mancha, Spain. Activation requested on 24/07/2021 as a major forest fire started on a pine forest located in Liétor (Albacete), near the Talave reservoir. This fire mainly affected the municipalities of Liétor, Isso and Hellín in Castilla La Mancha.

On the private sector side, Copernicus has also been widely used for commercial purposes. As Matej Batic, EO Research team leader at Sinergise stated, their large turn-key geospatial systems based on Copernicus data is currently helping with the monitoring of around 95% of Slovenia’s parcels. Sinergise is part of the group of actors working towards smart farming solutions, which enable applications such as yield mapping, farm management recording, field scale and crop dynamics mapping and monitoring. These applications allow farmers to optimise irrigation management, drought monitoring and decrease their consumption of water, fertilisers and pesticides by while increasing their production by more than at the same time.

Sinergise’s Giselle farm management system

The future of Copernicus

The Copernicus programme has come a long way since it started in 2014, becoming one of the most important, reliable and trusted EO data providers in the world. In fact, the programme is vital to maintaining the EU’s autonomy and leadership in high-quality environmental monitoring, emergency management and support for border and maritime security. In order to safeguard the programme’s leading position for decades to come, it is important to modernise it, ensuring that it is continuously adapted to the new needs and challenges ahead.

As we look to the future, efforts will have to be made across four dimensions. First, high quality Copernicus data will continue to be provided all while stimulating new and innovative initiatives (new space solutions) in Europe. In this respect, data acquisition will involve hybrid constellations in an effort to reduce dependencies, enhance performance and amplify observation potential. Second, services will be uplifted thanks to integration with digital, AI and high performance computing  (HPC). The services will also increase support to resilience needs of governmental services and offer more support to EU and national policies. Copernicus operational services will enable EU and its Member States to react better and faster to crises, notable for climate-related risks, human-made and natural disasters and security challenges. Currently, there are internal reflections on the possible development of a new Earth Observation service providing enhanced situational awareness capabilities for governmental use. Third, access and distribution of Copernicus data will be improved thanks to the boosting of EU-based infrastructure. In particular, there are plans to develop integrated data management tools, streamline data platforms and develop data analytics with Destination Earth. Fourth, conscious efforts will be made to re-energise Copernicus downstream applications. In this sense, the European Commission will anticipate user needs, use space data to transform different ecosystems and develop innovative tools for greater uptake.

The future of Copernicus is based on the successes of its past. This year’s EU Space Week showcased these results and ambitions, cementing the role of Copernicus and the EU Space Programme for a greener and more digital future for Europe. The new roadmap for Copernicus will inevitably lead to further growth, and together with you, we look forward to seeing its results during the next EU Space Week!

Thu, 06/10/2022 – 12:00

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