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European Space Solutions - Networking, Awards & Thought Provoking Presentations

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The 'European Space Solutions' is a major 3-day conference which was held 5 - 7 November 2013 in Munich, Germany at the Alte Kongresshalle. The aim of the event is to bring together business and the public-sector with users and developers of space-based solutions. The event was hosted by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology.

Tuesday, 5 November - Opening Plenary

Three key areas of work were introduced to the audience through the opening presentations:

1) Copernicus - previously known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) this is the European Programme for the establishment of a European capacity for Earth Observation

2) Galileo - Europe's own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control

3) EGNOS - The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service is the first pan-European satellite navigation system.

Photographs below show a welcomed refreshments break which provided a great opportunity to network with other delegates and view the winning entry for  the Geo Illustration Challenge in the Copernicus Masters Competition named "Traces of Humankind" by Alexander Popp (The illustration shows a satellite image of Venice in the form of a human footprint).

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I especially liked the second half of the plenary with the roundtable of business leaders which answered a range of questions regarding the challenges in the use of Earth Observation (EO). Some ideas that came out of the discussions were:

  • The need to be innovative and to provide free and open data as has been agreed with the new 'Free and Open Data Policy for Copernicus'
  • Tapping into the use of Smartphones to help achieve the vision of Copernicus whereby citizens could access services through mobile apps which address the six thematic areas: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security; for applications such as environment protection, management of urban areas, regional and local planning, agriculture, forestry, tourism etc.
  • The use of crowdsourcing to fund and engage the general public in EO research and application developments
  • The merging and fusing of EO data with other datasets to create new propriety information
  • Leveraging good experiences between Small Medium Enterprises (SME's) and increasing awareness that data can be accessed through Copernicus to develop best practice in the industry

Awards Ceremony - Copernicus Masters 2013 & 10th edition of the European Satellite Navigation Competition

The awards ceremony was fantastically done, I heard one delegate say that 'it was like attending the EO version of the Oscars' with awards presented by Thorsten Rudolph - Managing Director of Copernicus Masters and Ulrike Daniels - Project Manager of the Copernicus Masters.The awards was well attended and featured projects from all over Europe and further afield. The augmented reality company Metaio provided an award for the first time this year for the idea 'Wintervision: AR for Winter Road Safety' by Steve Lee and his team.

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Landmap featured as a runner up in the Best Service Challenge coming 2nd Place to Hab Forecast which is a service for monitoring of harmful algal blooms. All the winners were featured in the Copernicus Master Results 2013 brochure which was circulated during the State Reception after the awards ceremony (see Landmap's entry below).

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Wednesday, 6 November - Space Solutions for Emergency Response and Disaster Management

After using the MeetHub App to arrange some networking opportunities I attended the Space Solutions for Emergency Response and Disaster Management session.

I particularly enjoyed Delilah Al-Khudhairy presentation from the European Commission titled 'Achievements and challenges in using earth observation and navigation techniques for emergency response and disaster management'. Delilah emphasized in her presentation the requirement for timely relevant and reliable EO information to save lives and then disseminate to the media and to inform future policy. Issues regarding bottlenecks to data acquisition and access need to be addressed as it is essential that in a disaster situations EO data is provided ideally within 24 hours of the event. Having structured processes in place she felt was key in providing a sustainable channel of products for example the International Charter for Space Images and Disasters. Delilah also highlighted the issue of having too many overlapping datasets as was the case in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. This she felt has improved in recent years due to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service. The combination of aerial imagery has also been useful and is complementary to EO data. She felt there was scope to involve social media and provide observational data through crowdsourcing to provide additional information during disasters.

Delilah's presentation was followed by Philippe Bally from the European Space Agency (ESA) who provided further information about The International Charter for Space and Major Disasters.
The charter is an international collaboration to focus on the immediate response of a natural disaster e.g. Earthquakes, fires, floods, landslides. tsunamis, ocean storms and volcanic eruptions. Philippe Bally showed a pie chart which illustrated that floods are the most frequent disaster at over 50%. The charter since its formation in 1999 has been involved in 400 disasters in over 110 countries and now provides universal access (benefiting countries beyond the charter members) e.g. Australia joined in this way and used the charter recently for wildfire events.

This session was followed by the Official Conference Reception which took place inside the dome of the 'European Space Expo' in Bavariapark adjacent to the conference centre. The Expo presents information on the European space programmes Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus through engaging video clips and demonstrations. What is great is that the exhibition is free to attend by the general public with 300 000 European citizens which have already visited! I especially liked the OmniGlobe which is an interactive hologram of the earths atmosphere.

I would thoroughly recommend attending the European Space Solutions Conference if you want to experience cutting edge research, listen to and discuss EO issues with leaders in the field and most of all learn more about the European Programmes in EO and satellite navigation.

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  Inside the European Space Expo                                                        Kamie and I at the State Reception

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