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Geospatial Commission launches Earth Observation pilot for public services


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Geospatial Commission has launched a pilot programme for the use of Earth Observation (EO) data in public services.

It said the initiative will involve up to 35 public sector bodies testing data against a range of use cases. This is aimed at lowering the barrier to entry of data for the sector as part of a wider programme to build the understanding of the EO market.

It will be delivered in partnership with Airbus Defence and Space, a division of the multinational aerospace corporation, and will run until the end of March 2024.

This reflects a growth the market for satellite data that provides new capabilities in policy areas such as land use, environmental monitoring and emergency response.

EO involves the collection, analysis and presentation of information about Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems via remote sensing technologies. Satellite EO refers to the use of a variety of satellite based imaging equipment, including optical, radar, altimeter and atmospheric instruments, to collect the data.

In 2022, the Geospatial Commission co-funded research with the Satellite Applications Catapult on the increasing demand for EO data. This identified barriers to public sector adoption including varying levels of technical understanding, and the challenges of keeping pace with offerings on the market and developing a robust case for investment.

High in orbit

Thalia Baldwin, director of the Geospatial Commission, said: “Our Earth Observation pilot is aiming to keep the UK in its high geospatial orbit, increasing public sector capability and the demand for market innovation through testing new applications of EO data and technologies.”

Viscount Camrose, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said: “The Earth Observation capability that is being piloted by the Geospatial Commission will test how we can drive innovation in the heart of government service delivery, from effective disaster response to enhancing the science behind our understanding of land use change.”

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