Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

EO-VAS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 755899
Country: Slovenia
Domain: Space

Making the most of space data for use on Earth

An EU initiative is harnessing the potential of Europe’s satellite data for everyone from big business to interested individuals.
Making the most of space data for use on Earth
The EU has invested billions of euro in developing a global Earth observation (EO) system via Sentinel satellites. Originally meant for environmental monitoring, its potential for use in industry has led to an explosive demand for data, one that existing systems had a hard time supporting.

That’s where the EU-funded project EO-VAS steps in. “More and more companies began to notice the value of the EU’s satellite data, but the complexity of the remote sensing made it difficult for them to create value,” says project coordinator Grega Milcinski. “EO-VAS was designed to address these issues and make it easy for business to create new services in Earth observation on global scale.”

The project’s main result is Sentinel Hub, a service for processing and distribution of satellite data. The ultimate aim is to create a set of tools which makes it seamless for any commercial or research organisation to create new applications and services on top of petabytes of open EO data produced by the EU’s land monitoring programme Copernicus and other satellite missions.

Processing over a million requests a day

Copernicus delivers satellite data on a free, full and open basis. It’s used for services in six areas: land, marine environment monitoring, atmosphere monitoring, climate change, emergency management and security. Milcinski says that halfway through EO-VAS, it’s already showing results way beyond the initial objective.

“We were able to optimise data processing costs, which were in the hundreds of thousands of euro in the past, so much so we were able to open part of the services freely to the public, liberating the vast value hidden in the data and making it possible for just about anyone to observe changes happening on Earth on a weekly basis,” he explains. “We process between 1 and 2 million requests every day, half of them coming from our free services and half from our commercial offering.” Probably the biggest surprise so far is that EO data is relevant for a much wider audience than previously thought.

Making a playground out of EO

Sentinel Playground is an application that uses Sentinel Hub technology to allow the general public to explore the data, whether to see the latest images of a forest fire, observe the effects of a drought or ‘virtually visit’ Antarctica. This widens the reach of Copernicus results and generates new needs, which can be served by companies using EO-VAS services. It also demonstrates how it’s possible to build added value services on top of Sentinel Hub services.

According to Milcinski, in the past, an application like Sentinel Playground could only be developed by large industry players like Google, with significant infrastructure and monetary resources. “Now, with the help of Sentinel Hub and free and open Copernicus data, anyone can build it in a matter of minutes.”
Copernicus made it possible to get a global picture of the world every five days.

EO-VAS will actually exploit this data on a global scale, resulting in a wide array of applications in domains such as precision farming, forest monitoring, environmental monitoring and security.

To be sure, the next challenge is to deal with the realisation that the amount of data is so huge that machine learning will be needed to exploit it fully. That, stresses Milcinski, is the next frontier.

Keywords

EO-VAS, Copernicus, satellite data, Sentinel Hub, Earth observation, environmental monitoring, Sentinel Playground
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