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Free, open source software to see Earth from above

'Earth observation' (EO) satellites populate massive and ever-growing remotely sensed data archives, but there are no standard tools for extracting and analysing useful information. An EU-funded project has developed free/opensource software solutions to fill this gap.

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The shortage of widely accepted software tools for effective extraction and analysis of information from the exponentially increasing volume of EO data has led to off-the-shelf solutions. Many in the remotesensing community also design their own tools without sharing them with the wider community. The EU-funded project TOLOMEO (Tools for open multi-risk assessment using Earth observation data) was initiated to promote international cooperation for the development of free/opensource software solutions. Partners in Europe and South America joined their effort to offer the means to analyse and assess multiple risks. With a focus on robustness, ease of use and adaptability, the TOLOMEO team developed techniques for mapping human settlements. Nowadays, most of the population lives in urban areas, and threats to human lives such as man-made and natural disasters are increasingly perceived as sources of losses in urban areas. With urban areas and their specific features as input information, researchers have developed tools for assessing human exposure to deforestation risks, earthquake vulnerability, flood vulnerability and many others. The efforts involved gathering sample data to validate the tools developed. The research work of the TOLOMEO partners has now been completed, and the final version of the tools released to the public. Technical guidelines and connection chains have also been defined for the software parts to create a seamless package. All of these milestones were accomplished by using the expertise that each of the TOLOMEO partners possessed in software development. In particular, extensive staff exchanges over the lifetime of the project saw vital feedback needed gathered and used to enhance the tools' designs. TOLOMEO solutions are expected to help the European remotesensing community to make the most of the wealth of EO data available. Thanks to TOLOMEO, Europe has also established additional channels for continuous cooperation with South America, where Brazil is one of the major players in the exploitation of EO data to support environmental management.


Free/Opensource software, Earth observation, remotely sensed data, multi-risk assessment, environmental management

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