Methodology

The promotion activities of the various projects have been very successful, but there are still gaps to be addressed. On the demand side, there are new target groups of potential end-users that are not familiar yet with the possibilities of Earth observation and that have not yet been reached. Involvement of these potential end-users is of cardinal importance for a successful application of Earth observation solutions across the globe. On the supply side, access to data is a necessary condition. The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) will provide this access to data, through the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI). The EOPOWER project will provide an extra push to stimulate the demand side. This will be achieved through the following activities:

  1. Roadshow activities to promote the increased use of EO products and services for environmental applications, including capacity building.
  2. Portfolio of potential EO applications for economic development and environmental management.
  3. Enhancement of the resource facility on capacity building in the GEO web portal.
  4. Establishment of local focal points (nodes) that actively promote and provide capacity building on the use of EO for environmental applications effectively and at low-cost.
  5. Explore the establishment of a high-level forum of stakeholders (resource providers, international organizations) that have an interest in EO for economic development and environmental applications.
  6. Establishment of a central feedback node that digests and shares information on incubators, innovation, successes, experiences, visibility and provides brokerage and advice on resource mobilization.

Now is the time to involve new groups of end-users in Earth observation products and services for environmental applications. This involvement does not only relate to the technical capacity to deal with Earth observation applications, but also to a sense of ownership, making it possible to empower these new groups of end-users. The strategy, also followed by the GEONetCab project, facilitates this involvement through a combination of capacity building and promotion. Promotion is needed, because people are not familiar with the new products and services. Capacity building is needed, because the value of Earth observation products and services is not directly apparent.
This type of marketing works both ways. There is still a gap between the ‘inside’ Earth observation community, mostly oriented towards science, and the ‘outside’ groups of potential end-users, mostly interested in practical and cost-effective solutions. This implies that the process works both ways: marketing does not only entail ‘selling’ a certain product or service to clients, but also involves interaction with the Earth observations community to find better ways to serve the client community.
The general economic benefits of Earth observation have been demonstrated by several studies. The studies indicate that early warning for disasters by itself already justifies investment in space programs in terms of avoided losses. Of course there is a lot of discussion on the value of information (as for instance dealt with in the EuroGEOSS project), but there seems to be sufficient evidence that an investment in Earth observation infrastructure and capacity is justified. Another important aspect of the benefit studies is that this type of investment should typically be provided by the public sector, as it concerns public goods and services. The private sector can be engaged once the basic investment is provided. Developing countries can benefit from the infrastructure and investment done by more developed countries, and free and open access to data, as provided through the efforts of GEO (GEOSS Common Infrastructure).
The case for economic benefit of Earth observation for environmental applications at the local level is less clear, but there are sufficient examples that show the feasibility of Earth observation, especially if only an investment in basic processing infrastructure and capacity building for human resources is needed. The advantages of the Earth observation are obvious (although the information always needs to be supplemented by in-situ observations) in terms of accuracy, monitoring capacity and forecasting capability. To translate these features in actual customer value propositions for new groups of end-users is the challenge for this project.

To achieve this, following the tradition of the GEONetCab project, three groups will be targeted: - Earth observation and engineering professionals, with the aim to help them ‘sell
themselves’ and acquire funding,

  • Decision-makers, to facilitate more informed decision making and to provide advice on investment in Earth observation solutions, and
  • Communities, with the aim of empowerment, better information provision and increased participation in societal processes.

Of course this a somewhat simplified picture that does not do justice to the needs and requirements of the different groups, for example: both decision-makers and Earth observation professionals benefit from empowerment and communities and decision-makers benefit from fund-raising skills as well. Still, the presented scheme serves to outline the general focus.

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