Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GREENTOP (GREENTOP - Gamification of cRowdcomputing to ENhance EarTh Observation data Processing)
Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2017-10-31
The GREENTOP work aims to identify market opportunities and barriers against implementing a gamification process that brings (free) ESA Earth Observation data and its processing closer to End-users. The approach for the feasibility study is to identify markets, assess technical specifications for the technology, define the gamification process and create an action plan or business plan. The impact of the Phase 1 work on the company is described in the end of the deliverable.
The initial business plan for GREENTOP was to create a simple browser plugin that users install and which uses their spare processing power to seamlessly process Sentinel 1 and 2 data, to achieve land use monitoring.
The purpose is involving masses (communities) in EO Data Processing and creating crowdprocessed databases of landuse.
The importance for society comes from the main market issues in Europe concerning Earth Observation Data Usage:
The European Market for Earth Observation (and Satellite Data in general) is very fragmented. The most important clients are still in the public sector (>50% market share). SME’s offer limited solutions in Space Research and Development due to several factors, such as data costs, low resolution of free available data, aggressive competitiveness with large companies such as Google, Esri or Microsoft, which provide high resolution data for free (although not relevant in scientific environments).
Free satellite data (mainly from Copernicus) is useful for prototyping, but high accuracy products such as consumer-oriented applications, building management, urban planning and landscaping, etc. require higher resolution to be competitive.
The expected prices drop for high resolution data in the following years and constant increase in satellite constellations will enable SME’s in Europe to create small-scale applications and consumer-driven tools.
Therefore, the period 2017-2020 is the best period to invest in EO data R&D and product design.
Another issue of the EO Data Market is the lack of awareness, both amongst public administrations (especially, but not limited to Eastern Europe), universities and SME’s, which, in turn, generates a limited number of data scientists and ICT experts capable of creating and delivering applications.
Earth Observation Data Processing is the final objective of GREENTOP. Via community efforts, vast amounts of data can be observed, analyzed, processed and validated. Data processing can be performed both via automatic processing and semiautomatic processing. Automatic processing has a lower degree of accuracy, but requires practically no human effort, while semiautomatic processing implies that human contributors input some reference points that artificial intelligence algorithms use to classify EO data. Hybrid solutions are the best road to take.
The project’s objectives (correlated with the work programme) are to
• engage small and medium enterprises in space research and development, especially those not traditionally involved in it
• cover any aspect of the Specific Programme for Space […] especially in connection to the flagship programmes Galileo and Copernicus
• produce processed data in near-real-time, thanks to large community involvement,
• develop a new business model for the company
The general Earth Observation market was analyzed from two perspectives: General issues and opportunities and the company's main business/clients.
Furthermore, the Market from the GREENTOP perspective consists of Enthusiasts, Public Authorities, Climate Change and Natural Sites Protection NGOs, The European Space Agency and business partners (Startup communities, Clusters, companies).
The technical specifications assessment has identified some technical bottlenecks that need to be tackled before GREENTOP can become a product. The issues are related to web application development.
The practical approach for crowdcomputing was assessed via a Facebook campaign and direct contact to NGOs.
A working prototype (TRL4) was created for IoT devices based on Raspberry Pi, which is capable of automatically downloading Sentinel2 Data for a given area, merging it into one picture (taking care of overlaps), dividing the complete image into smaller pieces, sending bands and algorithms for processing to Raspberry Pi microcomputers or devices and receiving the classified map. Data is then uploaded to the ESA funded EO Clim Lab platform on which GREENTOP leverages.
The gamification process was divided into 4 approaches, targeting different communities: Enthusiasts, Municipalities (local communities), Climate Change Mitigation and Natural Protection Stakeholders and Education, of which two were detailed: the Smart Natural Reserve (a Smart City derivation for self-sustainable natural protected sites) and the Application Development Framework (a toolkit for rapid prototyping and web/mobile application development using EO data).
The infrastructure necessary for the gamification process was defined, as well as the reward system of both virtual, real and motivational rewards.
The European Space Agency was contacted and the work performed for GREENTOP will be presented to a ESA organized conference on Satelite Data analysis.
The business plan, or rather Action plan was refined, with a practical approach, considering the company's relevant existing pool of customers and market mature products that can be enhanced by the usage of EO data.
Crowdcomputing was originally designed as a browser plugin that runs in the background while users surf the web. Due to technical issues that need several additional steps before such plugin can be created, the original idea was shifted towards using IoT devices capable of multitasking. Wildlife monitoring or traffic cameras, air quality or weather stations, or even vacuum cleaners can be built using Raspberry Pi microcomputers. While performing their normal activities or while resting, those devices can use the processing power to analyze EO data inside the GREENTOP network, while their owner is rewarded via the gamification process.
Return of Investment - The work conducted in the Phase 1 produced several benefits for the company. It defined a velar pathway for delivering better products to its customers and generated commercial agreements already.
• The GREENTOP prototype – TRL 4 – is used to automatically download Sentinel 2 data, merge it into one image, split data processing tasks to IoT devices (we used wildlife monitoring cameras and independent Raspberry Pi devices) and, rebuild the processed image (landuse – 4 classes) and publish it to EO Clim Lab Platform.
• The company signed a new commercial contract for an EO based solution that uses GREENTOP algorithms and capabilities to process commercial data and identify urban green areas.
• New partnerships were created and existing partnerships were enhanced
• Company products have been analyzed and 2 products are to be enhanced with EO data in the following 1-3 years
• Image boost due to invitation to Events and positive press releases, as well as the formidable Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Champion branding.
• Due to the Company’s main revenue stream (building software for the local governments in Romania), and mature products, the company has the opportunity to become a data provider, consolidate its market position and go upstream into the data processors (and resellers) category, where the added value is significantly more important.
Social Return of Investment
EO data provides tremendous opportunities for companies to give back to society. NGO partnerships and support, educating students (via internship programmes), organizing hackathons or just creating awareness regarding opportunities related to EO data are sufficient examples for Social Return.
Thanks to GREENTOP, 50 students in the Cluj Napoca Technical University - North University Centre Baia Mare had the opportunity of making their first contact with EO data, satellites and ESA’s Copernicus programme. One of the students decided and is supported by the company in creating his bachelor studies diploma paper on EO software development.
Municipalities in Romania were made aware of opportunities presented by ESA free data.