Earth observation service industry meets to map out its future

Earth observation service industry meets to map out its future

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Italy, 27 September 2006 – More than 120 representatives of the European and Canadian Earth Observation value-adding sector took part in the ‘eoVox Stakeholders Consultation Workshop’ held on 14 September at ESRIN, ESA’s Centre for Earth Observation in Italy.

The prime objective of the workshop was to discuss a new industry Position Paper presenting the combined needs of the industrial sector and addressing the question: What should the public sector do to incubate the EO value-adding sector, and Why?

This paper is a first attempt to synthesise the risks and challenges that the EO VA sector faces and chart a commonly endorsed road map for the industry covering the next 10 years which identifies development actions for public funding to help the sector grow and strengthen.

The workshop focused on the status and future of the Earth Observation value-adding (EO VA) industry. It was organised by the eoVox Consortium that includes the European trade body for the industry – European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC). The eoVox Consortium was initiated by ESA to explore common issues affecting the Earth Observation (EO) service industry sector in Europe and Canada.

At present, some 250 (mostly small) companies are involved in the EO VA sector processing raw and semi-processed data from remote sensing instruments, and converting these into commercially useful information for end users.

The European sector employs about 2900 people and generates an estimated turnover of around €300 million, an amount that is growing annually at a rate of 6%. Companies in this sector operate in a diverse range of land and ocean applications including agriculture, cartography, environmental monitoring, marine surveillance, ice mapping and monitoring of hazards both on land and sea (e.g. floods, fires, oil spills).

The eoVox workshop attracted a wide range of participants including representatives from many EO value-adding companies; potential customers of EO services such as AMEC (civil engineering), Shell (oil and gas), Microsoft (Virtual Earth), and a number of national EO trade organisations within Europe.

The eoVox Position Paper is now undergoing an open review process in which all those associated with the EO service industry in Europe and Canada are invited to participate. All comments and feedback should be sent to the eoVox Consortium by mid-October for the paper to be finalised by end-October, prior to being presented to the EC and ESA. More information (including the Position Paper and the workshop presentations) can be found at the eoVox website.