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GEO Contributes to UN Resolution on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters

GEO-CRADLE: Coordinating Earth observations activities in North Africa, the Middle East and Balkans

Image by Piotr Chrobot

GEO-CRADLE is the GEO regional initiative to coordinate and integrate Earth observation activities in North Africa, the Middle East, and Balkans (NAMEBA) and to develop links with GEO initiatives and GEOSS.

Launched in 2016 with funding from H2020, it comprises 25 partners from 3 continents to work in a highly-complementary team that combines a strong background in EO coordination activities. It is organized in four key thematic areas: adaptation to climate change; improved food security & water extremes management; access to raw materials; and access to energy.

Assessing and building up EO maturity in NAMEBA to address regional needs


Assessing and building up EO maturity in NAMEBA to address regional needs


The GEO-CRADLE project, a GEO Initiative, responds to the challenges and critical gaps that prevent EO uptake in North Africa, Middle East and the Balkans (NAMEBA). This is mostly due to the limited cooperation between the EO stakeholders, the linguistic and cultural differences, the big diversity in EO maturity, the ineffective exploitation of resources and expertise, the limited public awareness on the benefits of EO, and the low involvement of the industry sector in the development of EO services.

In order to tackle these challenges, GEO-CRADLE established a regional coordination network in NAMEBA which integrated existing EO capacities through the extensive inventorying of the EO capabilities. This included analysis of space/air-borne, ground-based/in situ monitoring, modelling and computing. It carried out detailed collection of user needs in 93 interviews from 14 countries, followed by a gap analysis, and a priorities action plan with four pilot activities. Finally, the Regional Data Hub was connected to the GEOSS platform with 25,534,239 datasets, 45 regional portals and sites including the four GEO-CRADLE pilots.

GEO-CRADLE has established a path for increased engagement through a Networking Platform that hosts 268 profiles of EO actors from 29 countries. In addition, liaison activities and capacity building events, including 19 regional workshops and dissemination activities including 31 scientific papers and articles have been achieved.

The initiative successfully developed a novel methodology for EO Maturity Assessment (32 indicators across 3 fields: “Capacities,” “Cooperation” and “National Uptake and Awareness”) and application in 11 countries using an analytical tool that allows the quantitative measurement of the current EO capacities in a given country and their evolution over time, as well as their standardised visualisation in the form of a “maturity card.”

GEO-CRADLE has resulted in important societal benefits through networking, capacity building and exchange of EO methodologies, know-how, datasets and services in the NAMEBA region. In this region, where EO awareness, needs, capacities and synergies with Europe were limited before, GEO-CRADLE has achieved great scientific, societal and economic impact, as is the case several of the pilots, specifically the Access to Solar Energy (SENSE) pilot.

SENSE supports SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 9 Industry and Infrastructure. Using free access to Copernicus data and Core services, innovative modelling and state-of-the-art real-time solar energy calculating systems, it delivered reliable and high resolution Solar Atlases and broader climatology studies. It integrated a solar energy nowcasting system into the wider GEOSS. It also helped to stimulate the interest of key energy stakeholders and decision makers from the private and public sector in various countries. For example in Egypt, it was acknowledged by the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and is currently integrated in its official website, serving the needs of potential solar investors.

Read the full story, Europe’s eyes in the sky are helping to solve energy, land-use problems in Africa:

“GEO-CRADLE has demonstrated through its pilots in the strategic and challenging NAMEBA region that the continuous provision of accurate and timely information through coordinated and sustained EO is a key enabler for the maximisation of the impact of EO activities and the informed decision making, in response to regional/global challenges and towards the achievement of the UN SDGs.”

Dr Haris Kontoes, GEO-CRADLE Project Coordinator, Research Director of National Observatory of Athens

“We find that the idea of the Solar Energy Nowcasting System (SENSE) pilot in order to produce (i) the analytical solar energy Atlas of Egypt mainly for the efficient solar energy exploitation and (ii) the nowcasting of the solar energy potential in real time in order to support the Egyptian energy authorities to better plan solar energy demands, is of great and absolute importance. It is also a clear example of successfully building a value chain through a partnership between innovation and capacity building provider, GEO-CRADLE team, working with the Ministry and associated Renewable Authority, to deliver the Solar Atlas and the dynamical output, hopefully to meet the mandate of the investors and fund providers resulting in better schemes of energy production and hence in customer satisfaction.”

Mr Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Egypt

“The Ministry of Military Production believes that this developed Solar Atlas is an excellent addition, complementing the Government’s efforts in finding other venues for electricity production. The Ministry of Military Production will be willing to adopt this technology while being engaged in solar-related projects in Egypt.”

Mr Mohamed Said El-Assar, Minister of State for Military Production, Egypt

Digital Earth Africa: Delivering decision ready products for the continent

Image by Simon Matzinger
Digital Earth Africa: Delivering decision ready products for the continent

A number of countries in Africa supported by Australia, USA and other GEO members have embarked on a long-term programme to provide analysis ready datasets available to users and decision makers, through the Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa). Building on Open Data Cube technology originally developed In Australia, DE Africa delivers the capability to store, manage, process, interrogate, and present Earth observation data as decision ready products. It marks the beginning of the new era of open data and knowledge for Africa.

Digital Earth Africa will provide a routine, reliable and operational service that will enable African nations to track changes across their countries and the continent in unprecedented detail.

In the era of the big data revolution, more and more data is becoming open and easier to access and use. This is particularly true of Earth observation data, notably satellite imagery. Users are benefiting from the fusion of technologies from satellites to mobile phones, cloud based services, high performance computing and machine learning to make unprecedented volumes of data available and usable.

Launched at the AfriGEO Symposium in August 2019, Digital Earth Africa is set to deliver a continental-wide platform and programme that democratizes the capacity to process and analyze satellite data.

GEO and Amazon Web Services announce cloud grants to improve understanding of our planet

Image by Felipe Palacio
Image by Felipe Palacio

In December 2018, GEO and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the Earth Observation Cloud Credits Programme, a joint collaboration to offer GEO members and research organizations access to AWS Cloud services to help countries realize the potential of Earth observations for sustainable development.

Through this programme, GEO encouraged agencies and research organizations from countries categorized as Developing Countries by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to apply for cloud credit grants to support non-commercial projects. Agencies and organizations from a single country could apply for up to $60,000 of AWS Promotional Credits over a three-year period, while multinational projects could apply for up to $100,000 in AWS Promotional Credits over the same period. Submissions were accepted from December 2018 through April 2019.

In June 2019, the GEO Secretariat announced 21 projects from 17 developing countries that would be awarded $1.5 million USD worth of cloud services, i.e. receiving grants and technical support through the Earth Observation Cloud Credits Programme.

Under the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), this programme enables developing countries to use Earth observations and applications to support sustainable environmental development including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

There has also been additional support from the Sinergise Sentinel Hub Credits programme, which has provided access to the repository of data from the Sentinel-2 Earth observation mission from the European Union’s Copernicus Programme that acquires optical imagery at high spatial resolution.

Recipients of cloud credits through this initiative are also receiving support from the GEO community and AWS experts to refine and implement their projects for the best possible results. They will leverage Earth observation data from open, free, and fully accessible sources and are encouraged to use the GEOSS Platform and the Registry of Open Data on AWS. All data and software used and developed in the course of the selected projects, along with the associated good practice, will be made fully accessible to the wider GEO community, in compliance with Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Data Sharing Principles.

GEO and Amazon Web Services cloud grants
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