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ESA launches program to see how can satellites help in COVID-19

The Earth is suffering from deadly COVID-19, a pandemic that has shut the world. It’s not just that our present is suffering, the marks of this deadly disease will remain for long on the world’s society and economy and its journey back to normal is going to long and tough. To make this road easier satellite data has a huge role to play. Images derived from satellite can help to pinpoint the problem in realtime so that they can be resolved quickly.

In line with the same ESA has issued two new initiatives related to understanding the effects that COVID-19 is imposing on society, the economy and the environment. The first initiative is innovative proposal for characterising COVID-19 impacts and Custom Script Contest.

“COVID-19 is putting society under huge strain. While ESA isn’t really placed to help forecast the progression of the virus, we certainly continue to have a wealth of data streaming back to us from some of the most sophisticated satellites ever built as well as new artificial intelligence technologies that can be used to understand and monitor some of the societal shifts”, says Josef Aschbacher who is Director of Earth Observation Programmes at ESA in a press release announced by European Space Agency.

The idea of these programs is to help support experts working in Europe’s research centres and technical organizations during these unprecedented times.

About innovative proposal for characterizing COVID-19 impacts

Innovative proposal for characterizing COVID-19 impacts is a new addition to the Permanently Open Call of ESA’s Earth Observation Science for Society program.

How can EO data help with monitoring COVID-19 impacts on the society, is the theme of the proposal. The proposals that address rapid development and demonstration of innovative analysis methods to characterize the impacts of COVID-19 will also be considered.

The closing date of Open Call Batch 10 is 17 April 2020 at 13:00 Amsterdam Local Time Zone.

Talking about the aim of the program Josef says, “innovation is key to using satellite data to help serve society during these challenging times and we trust that our new call will return some valuable proposals,”.

Custom Script Contest

ESA in coordination with the European Commission launched a special edition of the Custom Script Contest on 6th April. This contest calls for remote sensing experts, machine learning scientists as well as the interested public to submit ideas on how satellite data could help mitigate the situation for economic sectors such as industry, commerce, transport and agriculture, but is also open to other ideas. Anyone can contribute an idea.

The best contributions will be rewarded with cash prizes on a weekly basis. Also, every month there will be a prize for the best idea in each category and a final prize for the best overall contribution.

Grega Milcinski, from Sinergise said, “Participants should simply compose a set of slides presenting their ideas using the Earth observation data, tools and machine learning technologies made easily available for all skill levels. These will be evaluated on a weekly basis in order to make use of them as soon as possible – the COVID-19 situation needs it!”