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EuroGEO Showcases: Applications Powered by Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - e-shape (EuroGEO Showcases: Applications Powered by Europe)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-10-31

e-shape is a flagship project for the European Union (EU) to contribute through worldwide efforts to GEO. In this regard, e-shape contributes to establish EuroGEO, the European regional GEO, with the aim to strengthen the benefits of GEOSS for Europe and contributes to the EuroGEO activities by providing its experience and knowledge to the EO community.

e-shape is driven by the need to develop operational EO services with and for the users and to create a conducive environment whereby the strengths of Europe are exploited towards addressing societal challenges, fostering entrepreneurship and supporting sustainable development. e-shape aims at setting-up and promoting a sustainable organization dedicated to users’ uptake of European EO resources, building on Copernicus and GEOSS through the development of pilots supported by co-design methods tailored to Earth Observation (i.e. application-oriented products, services or solutions) built on a user-centric approach and delivering economic, social and policy value to Europeans.

e-shape intends to organize the coordinated downstream data exploitation of European EO datasets available through the GEOSS Platform, Copernicus data sets, data sets from the different European research infrastructures, citizen science initiatives, and national databases of in-situ observations. The project should see the refining and promotion of a range of user-driven services built on e.g. Copernicus Sentinel data and services, ESA TEP outputs, H2020 projects outputs and European research infrastructures data. These services of GEO relevance, having been already funded for development under different funding mechanisms should be contributing to the goals of GEO Flagships and Initiatives (incl. SDGs) and be registered onto the GEOSS Platform following Inspire directive.

Through the 27 pilots and 10 future onboarded pilots across the 7 Showcases, e-shape will generate a wealth of EO data that can empower informed decision making in the respective sectors. Moreover, in the framework of the pilots, innovative tools that have been developed in previous EO or GEO actions will be further matured. In addition to these primary developments, e-shape intends to foster streamlined access to data and resources by linking to DIAS, NextGEOSS, GEOSS Platform, etc.
This first period has led to the uptake of e-shape’s consortium and establishing the governance, reporting structure, management tools, knowledge management, and quality monitoring structure, thus developing the ability to operate a consortium with a large number of participants. In particular the structure needs to be fit to onboard 10 new pilots during the course of the project.

A first successful phase consisted into performing an initial assessment, collecting the pilot’s needs and capabilities, and mapping the available external resources (e.g. platforms). e-shape also put in place the infrastructure it needs for bring Pilots to sustainability: the ability to perform initial assessments and evaluate the state of maturity of a Pilot; the development of a EO-specific, robust and tested co-design methodology; the strategies for end-user engagements; and knowledge, tools and methods preparing for sustainable upscaling. Underpinning the success of e-shape is the ability to engage with various audiences, and communicating outcomes and impact to outside audiences. At the core of the project is the communication, dissemination and outreach of progresses and best practices to the users’ communities, the EO community and the EuroGEO Initiative participants.

On the basis of the elements collected, e-shape launched its first Sprint, organised as an Agile process, the methodology consists in creating a set of Challenges, flexibly selected. The challenges are agregators matching the Pilot’s development plans, the services provided by the Work Packages, and the success metrics of e-shape (KPIs). This flexible approach has proven successful in addressing the vast diversity of Pilot’s in terms of SDGs, audiences, and level of development. Sprint 1 is currently been evaluated, and will be upscaled for Sprint 2.

27 e-shape Pilots were studied for co-design. Four main types of co-design have been identified based on the analysis of the different pilots. These types correspond to the different design issues that might occur in the whole development process of EO services. Then, a pattern is being designed and experimented for each co-design type.

e-shape rephrased the general understanding of co-design, as “ a method to grow an ecosystem of efficient EO-service designers in a resilient perspective”.

Diagnosis and engagement with the European platforms

There is a lack of ability from non-expert to benchmark and compare price offering without a high level of skillset, out of reach to SMEs and small-scale research laboratories. The transaction costs and technology risk being perceived as high, few Pilots only were interested in migrating to a new Cloud platform or DIAS during the initial assessment phase. The situation improved slightly after information and support on understanding the DIAS’ offering and value proposition was provided by e-shape.

There is a need to lower technical and contractual barriers to upscale the use of the European Earth Observation Infrastructure in support of the European commitments to sustainability and growth. Initial experience from the e-shape Pilots has shown that the ‘last mile’ of negotiations has still to be performed bilaterally between technical teams. At the moment, despite many efforts, the use of European platforms exploiting the wealth of EO data is time consuming and far from plug and play, and each application is a tailor-made technical and contractual arrangement.

User Uptake

Accessing end-users who have both the desire and ability to take up EO-based solutions is a central issue of the EO sector; one that this project seeks to address. The barriers in accessing this niche includes, the nature of specific legislations to which governmental bodies must adhere, the lack of understanding of the EO value proposition in potential markets, and the fact that many solutions suffer from Tech-push. e-shape aims at breaking down of these issues to help EO-services access new markets by bringing new users to the developers (or vice versa) and facilitating uptake by early adopters of innovative products to service both commercial and legislative requirements. A strategy to achieve these goals has been designed and will be rolled out, starting with the networks which have already been developed around existing pilots.

Capacity building and long-term sustainability

e-shape aims to deliver a boost to the European EO sector throughout its duration and beyond. A bouquet of capacity building services are provided. For the subsequent period, e-shape will move from the traditional focus on the supply side to a more rigorous engagement and training of the demand side. This includes not only training potential users in the use of tools which could bring value to their work, but also liaising with institutions. These activities, after the implementation and review of the results, will be published as a guideline for the entire sector leading to a breakthrough in how the sector tackles the issue of attracting new users and customers.
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