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Defra sets up Earth Observation Data Service


Mark Say Managing Editor

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched new service for organisations within its group to make use of satellite data from the European Space Agency.

Earth Observation view of north-east England

Defra’s head of data and information access Andrew Newman said the Earth Observation Data Service has been set up to support the use of data from the Sentinel 1 and 2 missions for radar and optical data respectively.

It has been built by software firm Scisys Group, which is now part of CGI, on Defra’s Azure cloud environment.

The move has come in response to an acknowledgement of the complexities in finding, downloading, storing and pre-processing satellite data, and transforming it into formats that can be used in analysis tools and geographic information systems.

The service has four components, including a near real time feed of data from the Copernicus programme via a managed API service provided by specialist in the field Mundi Web Services.

This is accompanied by processing engines to extract, transform and load the data, and a data store based on the GeoServer open source server that includes metadata and an 18-month archive.

There is also a website using the GeoNode open source geospatial content management system, which enables users to download whole datasets or clip them to areas of interest, along with an API to make it possible to access data programmatically.

New insights

“The Earth Observation Data Service will help staff across Defra group with their work, delivering environmental observations, powering models and enabling new analyses,” Newman said. “The service will enable us to deliver existing services more effectively and will provide new insights.”

Among the expected uses are to provide support for emergency responses, measure changes in natural habitats, map crops and develop new approaches to monitoring landscapes.

Newman added that other public sector organisations have shown an interest in the service and that Defra is working with the Geospatial Commission on how it might be made available.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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