South Africa: The European Commission funded an initiative GeoNetCab, or the Group on Earth Observation Network for Capacity Building. The aim of GeoNetCab is to raise awareness about earth observation and to build capacity so that decision makers and business can use this tool to inform their decisions. South Africa is one of six countries participating in the three-year project, with two representatives: South African National Space Agency (Sansa) and Umvoto, an earth sciences company specialising in hydrogeology.
“The key motivation for GeoNetCab was (people) not knowing how to engage with decision makers, or knowing how to make funding available for earth observation,” said Andiswa Mlisa, director of Umvoto.
The main interface with GeoNetCab is a web portal, , which offers a variety of information from marketing tools and success stories to regional case studies which identify who is offering earth observation services and who is making use of them.
“The key is communicating (earth observation) benefits,” said Dan Matsapola, stakeholder relations manager in Sansa’s earth observation unit. “This is the gap that GeoNetCab is trying to fill, trying to connect the professionals and the decision makers.” Mlisa too agreed, “There is a lack of data and awareness globally. As part of the project, we have approached everyone: the government, academics, para-statals. The project is in its third and final year.”
“The portal is out, but the biggest challenge for GeoNetCab is that we don’t own the data. This is owned by the data custodians. From our side, we’re dependent on people saying ‘Yes, you can have the data’,” she added.