Extended Task Sheet:
Contributions of the European Commission2009/07 - Report provided for the Task Kickoff Meeting, ESRIN, Frascati, Italy, July 27-28, 2009
European Commission funds research projects in the domain of GEO through the FP7 tool. A special sub-activity under the Environment theme is foreseen with focuses on the development and integration of observation systems for environmental and sustainability issues in the context of GEOSS. It should contribute to making systems interoperable and to optimise the information for understanding, modelling and predicting environmental phenomena, and for assessing, exploring and managing natural resources. A central goal within this sub activity is to bring the European efforts into the global context, as foreseen within GEO. All these projects are directly monitored by the EC and therefore strictly related to GEO.
However, there are many other projects and initiatives within the Commission, aimed at funding projects outside GEO context that could be easily brought under GEO framework. A list of potential projects has been recently prepared, and both project officers and project coordinator have been invited to the 3rd GEO European Project Workshop to be held in Istanbul on 8-9 October. The intention of this series of workshops is to develop the collaboration between the Earth Observation activities and projects financed by the EU and to consolidate the European contribution towards GEOSS.
Projects funded by the EC in the context of GEO are free to identify synergies with other EC funded projects, planning to collaborate better in order to contribute to and benefit from GEOSS. Research Projects in other fields (Climate Change, Environmental Technology, Infrastructures), ERA-NET initiatives like BONUS can have in their domain projects with a potential contribution to GEO. EC triggers all GEO related projects to find such synergies. Part of the budget delivered to projects is always reserved for participating in meetings, upon request by the EC, where the project objectives and outcomes (of a public nature) will be presented in the perspective of contributing to common approaches and sharing of best practices. Such concertation activities may foresee up to two meeting per year, covered by project funds, with the presence of project representatives.
One of the goals of the recently funded EC project EuroGEOSS is demonstrating the added value given by GEOSS. EuroGEOSS will disclose systems that where not available before, adding something at global level. Another important element is that for the moment GEOSS registries only contain what already exists, while EuroGEOSS has the goal of proving added value of being part of GEOSS activities. There will be three thematic area (Drought, biodiversity and forestry) where EuroGEOSS will introduce interoperability among existing systems, extending operating capacity.
One of the latest proposals awarded by the EC within ENV 2009 call, the EUGENE project, has as a main object organising a series of workshops and other activities, with the intention of strengthening European GEO component, giving a higher level of visibility and involvement at the political level. The project will be operational from October 2009 on. Currently there are three workshops foreseen in three different SBA's, namely Climate, Disasters, and Water. In the short term, EUGENE will yield concrete contributions to the next GEO Ministerial summit in 2010. This will intensify the global impact of European GEO activities and facilitate international networking. EUGENE will mainly, but not exclusively, address the major relevant European Organisations and Programmes in the field of earth observation, with regard and complementary to GMES, INSPIRE and FP7 GEO projects.
EC is about to open a new call for proposals, namely EC FP7 ENV 2010, where a dedicated project will be awarded to support strategic GEO related S&T activities, promoting awareness and benefits of GEO in the S&T Community as foreseen in ST-09-02 task. The project will also be oriented towards facilitating the registration of data in the GEOSS, including existing data bases, data being developed, research data, operational data. Currently all GEO-related EC projects commit themselves to register into GEOSS registries, and to take part of initiatives as AIP (former AR-07-02, now AR-09-01b). The expected impact is a full interaction and engagement of relevant European and International science and technology communities into GEOSS implementation such that GEOSS is strongly supportive of scientific and technological development while integrating advances in technology and latest Earth observation science in its development and operation. The call will be open until 5th January 2010, and the start of this project is foreseen mid-2010. This new project will also coordinate within the European Members of GEO and the EC a process involving different EU potential contributors of GEO, with the aim to take advantage of the European Scientific and Technological strengths in building the GEOSS and to facilitate access to global information and knowledge to the benefit of European stakeholders. The view should be to prepare a sustainable process to support the interaction between the GEOSS and the European Science and Technology stakeholders for all Societal Benefit Areas and for the Transverse activities areas. The upcoming project within 2010 call will contribute to promoting synergies between European projects and between European Research Programmes (including projects from the EC FP7 programme, National projects, pan-European and Regional programmes).
Two other topics within the same call are here worth to be mentioned. One will contribute developing a Global Observation System for Mercury. The Commission suggested that the topic contributes developing a global monitoring system able to predict the spatial distribution of atmospheric mercury deposition loads to and fluxes from terrestrial and aquatic receptors for current and projected scenarios of economic development strategies on the environment. Based on results from past EU research projects, long-term data set from different locations will be provided, improving current mercury monitoring and observing system. The awarded project will be contributing to GEO task HE-09-02d and related tasks in other SBA’s, all being relevant for the S&T community. The second topic deals with the integration into GEOSS of new data visualisation approaches of Earth Systems. The European Commission aims at developing mechanisms and protocols enabling the mining, screening and quality-control of EO data used in visualisation Google-like web services registered in the GEOSS and used in such data visualisation applications by the science community and operational users. Proposals should contribute to the development of a GEO S&T label that is broadly acknowledged in the Science Community.
Regional/National activities within Europe are monitored by the EC with the help of HLWG, which meets twice a year and reports on GEO initiatives in Member States. Interactions with new Earth observation centres or Earth observation data management networks are frequent. The recently established UK Centre for Earth Observation is located in the University of Reading with 26 institutions from the UK, covering areas including Climate Research, Water Cycles, Data simulations and Data management has been presented at GEPW2 in Stresa. The GIIDA initiative from Italian CNR, currently building a multidisciplinary infrastructure related to management of Earth and environmental data at national level with the same logic of GEOSS (a sort of GEOSS clone in Italy), is also monitored. Leading scientists of this network have a good knowledge of GEOSS, some of them even lead or contribute to GEO tasks.
Since 2008, as part of their dissemination plan, the projects funded by EC have to commit in producing appealing multimedia material showcasing to the public at large the activities performed. This includes material at both the early and late stages of the project, comprising as a minimum, a public web site, leaflets, a set of re-usable illustrations and a few short stand-alone videos for use by the project and the EC in various events. Such videos shall be downloadable from the project web site and from other widely visited media.
Although an EC funded project under FP7 tool is limited in time, without foreseeing an operational phase, the maintenance of the portal and the availability of data have to be covered beyond the end of the project. This can not guarantee a transition from research to operational, but guarantees at least the sharing of collected data, according to GEO principles. Calls for follow-up of a project could be issued, but this is something not yet predictable by today.
The EC is also active in taking part of workshops on relevant subjects for S&T communities. The GEOSS Workshop on Understanding the Integrated Ocean Observation System, Including Sub-surface Sensors, recently organized by IEEE in Bremen, in association with the IEEE OES Oceans `09 meeting, was a good occasion to promote S&T goals and roles within GEOSS. The workshop, mainly addressing ocean research topics, drafted some recommendations, sponsored by the Science Community, and transmitted to the GEO Secretariat and appropriate GEO committees for their consideration.
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