GEO-CRADLE: Where are the gaps in the regional EO capacities?

GEO-CRADLE: Where are the gaps in the regional EO capacities?

The GEO-CRADLE Gap Analysis utilises outputs of previous parts of the project: the user need analysis and the inventories of the existing EO capacities. It updates and deepens the work performed by relevant previous projects (AfriGEOSS, Balkan GEO Net, BRAGMA, IASON, Observe).

The goals of the Gap Analysis are three-fold. First, it aims to examine and document the capacities (space-borne, in-situ, modelling and data exploiters) in EO value chains of countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans. Second, the Gap Analysis aims to identify and enable the sharing of successful practices between different countries. Finally, the Gap Analysis endeavors to offer recommendations on ways to develop an action plan that addresses rising regional challenges on which the project focuses (i.e. Climate Change, Food Security, Energy and Access to Raw Materials), and thus define the scope of the GEO-CRADLE pilot activities.

Following the approach proposed by the Group on Earth Observations, the GEO-CRADLE Gap Analysis looks at five types of gaps: geographical, observational, structural, the gaps in the quantity/quality of EO data, and the gaps in technical capacity.

Recommendations are designed to reflect regional GEO, GEOSS, and Copernicus perspectives, and regional priorities.

The results of the Gap analysis suggest several commonalities between countries, as well as stark differences. As a results, discernible patterns emerge.

WESTERN BALKAN COUNTRIES: ALBANIA, FYROM AND SERBIA

The Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over northern Serbia to the region of Vojvodina (Photo: ESA)

These countries have basic space-borne capacities, consisting of weather data receiving antennae. Several end-users do use satellite imagery sourced from small commercial companies. In-situ networks are in need of further development. Gaps were identified in existing developed networks: meteorological, atmospheric composition and hydrometric. Soil attributes/radiation/energy networks are to a large degree non-existent and rely on ad hoc or sparse manual collection.

The EO sector is dominated by the public sector, including both institutional organizations and public companies.

Several research groups are also active. Structural gaps within the ecosystem of this group of countries is pronounced. Information sharing is unsatisfactory, cooperation is at a low level, and there is little EO related networking. Structural gaps are caused by human capital limitations while the financial crisis further aggravates these gaps.

EU financial instruments and other support are identified as an opportunity to narrow the identified gaps.

EU MEMBER STATES IN THE ROI: BULGARIA, CYPRUS, GREECE, ROMANIA

Bulgarian and Romanian structural gaps are similar to the previous groups. These countries all have lower, but varying, levels of space capacities, all have satellite receiving stations and former ties to ESA. Bulgaria and Romania have defined space-programs.

In Romania significant progress was identified, while in Bulgaria this has largely stalled. Greece has the most developed capacities, being a member of the ESA the longest. There are indications that in-situ networks and modelling and processing capacities are generally more advanced than most countries in the previous typology.

EO capacities have benefited from EU membership through access to Structural Funds and other EU financial instruments, and through greater integration with European level organizations.

However, recent fiscal consolidation has negatively impacted capacities.

INDEPENDENT SPACE PROGRAMS: EGYPT, TUNISIA AND TURKEY

The River Nile and Delta and the surrounding desert areas of northeast Africa and parts of the Middle East (Photo: ESA)

The development of EO sectors in these countries was less intensively influenced by interaction with the EU, and a result of long-term efforts led by a defined space strategy. Egypt and Turkey have both launched their own EO satellites into space as part of a space program while Tunisia actively receives satellite data through ground-based segments.Turkey was identified as the most advanced in this group in regards to capacities, and the survey shows indication of a large degree of local and international cooperation of the EO ecosystem. On the other hand, Egypt has large capacities which are hampered by structural gaps.

Both Tunisia and Egypt reported bureaucratic obstacles that amount to structural gaps. Capacity gaps are apparent from a lack of sufficient personnel and expertise.

ADVANCED ECOSYSTEM: ISRAEL

Tel Aviv by night (Photo: ESA)

Israel has by far the most advanced capacities in the RoI, as validated in the survey. The end-user interviews demonstrate advanced commercial exploitation of EO in the country. The country has specialized in the micro-/nano-satellite market niche on the global scale.

UPSTART EO COUNTRIES: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES AND SAUDI ARABIA

Both Saudi Arabia and UAE have advanced space programs that have seen rapid development over the past two decades. This development has been spurred by strong government investment.

However, recent political and economic contexts have lowered available EO funding. Bureaucratic obstacles also slow the pace of EO development and both countries continue to significantly rely on foreign experts.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the GEO-CRADLE gap analysis offers a useful illustration of the gaps in the existing EO capacities as seen through the eyes of regional stakeholders and demonstrates how these could be filled. Moreover, it can be seen as a building block for further analysis, understanding and capacity building.

The full report can be found the GEO-CRADLE website.