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GEO Network for Capacity Building

Periodic Report Summary 2 - GEONETCAB (GEO Network for Capacity Building)

Project Context and Objectives:

The challenge

Some parts of space technology are not very well understood and therefore not used to its full potential. This especially applies to earth observation, which deals with images captured by satellites. The application of earth observation can provide considerable added value, but at the moment this is not realized. Partly this has to do with technical issues, such as access to and reliability of data, and compatibility and user-friendliness of systems. But for a part also the lack of familiarity with solutions and knowledge of products and services of the potential users of earth observations plays a role. In addition to this, the earth observation community (the providers) needs to learn how to improve outreach to potential clients.

Project Objectives

The purpose of the GEO Network for Capacity Building (GEONetCab) project was to create the conditions for the improvement and increase of the GEO (Group on Earth Observations) capacity building activities and framework, with special emphasis on developing countries, new EU member states (and EU neighbouring states). This applies particularly to climate monitoring and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of GEO capacity building for application in the GEO societal benefit areas. Coinciding with this purpose, successful brokerage with (potential) clients for earth observation products and services will be facilitated.

Project Results:

The project uses four models as theoretical background: a business process model, a database on earth observation capacity building, products and services, the expert system development life cycle and the GEO societal benefit areas (including the tasks of the different GEO committees). By processing existing information the bottlenecks and opportunities are identified that are crucial for a better use of earth observation. This analysis is then connected to look into what kind of capacity building is most needed to address the situation. And of course, there are already existing success stories. These stories are put together and rephrased in terms that are understandable for non-technical users. Together they will serve to convince potential clients of the added value of earth observation and to enable them to make a selection or seek advice on what kind of product of service works best for them. The project then facilitates a dialogue between the providers and the potential clients of earth observations products and services.

To make all this more concrete, four regions were selected in the world to provide practical examples and showcases that serve to underline the difference that earth observation already makes in the business processes of public and private organizations. The regions are: Southern Africa, French-speaking countries in Africa, Poland and the Czech Republic. In these regions pilots were implemented to connect providers and clients and to facilitate capacity building for earth observation. A GEO capacity building web portal, linked to the GEOSS (Global Earth Observations System of Systems) clearing house, provides insight in the different practical cases and outreach to the public worldwide. The portal also functions as a guide to help people find the tools for capacity building.

Potential Impact:

Decision makers are an important target group of the project. To arrive at balanced and justified decisions and to compare alternatives, decision makers need to know how earth observation can benefit them. For this purpose the project develops dissemination packages (toolkits) and organizes a number of workshops for decision-makers and potential clients. The perspective of the end user is a key element for the design and implementation of project interventions. The experience and feedback gained from the interaction with clients and decision-makers is used to improve promotion and capacity building methods and to advise the GEO community on earth observation products and services that have most potential and on the best way to approach clients.

The approach towards marketing of earth observation can be described as follows:

- Earth observation applications are on the verge of reaching new user communities;
- To be successful these new user communities need to be involved;
- And special attention needs to be given to the weakest link / last mile aspects;
- Through a marketing mix that consists of promotion and capacity building.

Professionals can be earth observation specialists, but also engineers or experts in other disciplines that are interested in using remote sensing. Earth observation specialists are very well aware of the technical possibilities of remote sensing, but less acquainted with the general context in which earth observation can play a role and less equipped with promotion and acquisition skills. Other professionals tend to get lost in the myriad options that earth observation seems to offer and do not have a clear insight in how earth observation can help them solve their day-to-day problems. Similarly, decision-makers (managers, politicians, etc.) do not have a clue what earth observation is all about. On the one hand awareness raising is needed about the potential of earth observation, on the other hand they need to gain sufficient knowledge for proper demand articulation. Communities (non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, farmers’ groups, indigenous communities, etc.) also need awareness raising, as earth observation can be a powerful tool for community participation and the advancement of community interests. All these groups can apply simple earth observation tools, such as Google Earth applications, but they need to be told what the possibilities are and shown how the applications actually work.

List of Websites: