Access To Earth Observation Data And Transparency Takes Centre Stage At The COP Integrated Workshop AND Capacity-Building Training

2024 CoP Workshop- Group photo
Group photo of CoP Integrated Workshop and Training Attendees

From 4 to 6 June 2024 the Community of Practice (CoP) Integrated Workshop and Capacity-Building Training took place at the Council for Science and Industrial Research’s International Convention Centre in Pretoria. 

NEOSS's Adv Lulu Makapela welcomed attendees, participants and Earth Observation (EO) experts and community to the workshop and outlined the programme's objectives. 

“We want to use Earth observation to drive innovation," she said. 

The day’s proceedings were chaired by Ms Maud Nale of Digital Earth Africa.

The capacity-building training, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, included a mix of presentations (training courses), interactive dialogues and practical features of the EO products.

The whole event was dedicated to expediting the execution of CoP strategies and work plans within the EO and space navigation domains. 

It aimed to enhance the local uptake of EO technologies, emphasising the importance of cloud storage for EO data management and advancements in EO payloads. It also sought to empower access to EO data, ensure transparency in sustainable finance, and foster country-level participation through GEO, AfriGEO and relevant initiatives. 

The workshop was highly relevant for CoPs as it fostered collaboration, knowledge sharing, and practical applications of EO technologies in various sectors. 

The capacity-building training allowed participants to enhance their skills and knowledge in leveraging EO data and tools for addressing environmental challenges and sustainable development goals.

The first session of day one was titled “GEO Knowledge Hub” and it featured facilitators who spoke about open data and open knowledge. And that the intention is that this data makes its way into the hands of the user. 

 

The facilitators included: 

Ms Paola De Salvo

Ms Marie Francoise Voidrot

Mr Felipe Carlos

Ms Kalamkas Yessimkhanova

Mr Lionel Menard

Mr Braulio Galicia

 

Ms Da Salvo said she was proud to present with the GEO Knowledge Hub team, knowledge providers, GIDTT and DK-WG colleagues at the South Africa National GEO Capacity development.

She spoke about the organisation’s upcoming webinars intended on addressing challenges faced by the national GEO and to enhance the connection with the GEO community. 

 

The second CoP training session was started by Ms Esther Makable of GEOGLAM, who gave an introduction to global agriculture monitoring, research and capacity co-development approaches and opportunities. 

She opened the second training session by providing an overview of opportunities and methodologies related to capacity co-development, research, and global agriculture monitoring. 

 Ms Makabe expanded on the objectives of GEOGLAM, which include: 

  • Supporting markets and informing early warning for proactive response to emerging food emergencies.
  • Increasing market transparency.
  • Enhancing early warning.
  • Improving food security by producing the disseminating EO based information on agricultural conditions at national, regional and global scales. 

She pointed out steps needed to establish a national agriculture monitoring systems based on EO. 

 

She went into detail about the goals of GEOGLAM, which include: 

- Assisting markets and providing early notice for anticipatory action in the event of rising food emergencies. 
- Improving early warning systems. 

- Increasing market transparency. 
- Enhancing food security through the creation and dissemination of EO-based data on agricultural conditions at the local, national, and international levels. 

Ms Makable was supported by her team:  

Mr Harve Kerdiles of 
Mr Kristof van Tricht
Mr Lorenso DeSimone

Mr Miao Zhang

 

The facilitator for the third and last session of Day One was Dr Ken Mubea from Digital Earth Africa (DEA), who gave an overview of DEA and its analysis-ready satellite data, products, services, and tools. 

In his interactive presentation, he covered how users could use the DEA platform and Earth Observation products to address environmental issues and contribute to the continent's sustainable development goals.

“The key is to use free data and unlock it in the way that it is already processed,” he mentioned.

For day two, Dr Ernest Acheampong facilitated the session titled: Earth Observations Maturity Indicator (EOMI) Methodology. He said: “A comprehensive understanding of a country's EO landscape could open the gateway to investments, innovations, and solutions that are tailored to meet specific environmental, economic, and social challenges.” 

He emphasised that by undertaking an EO maturity assessment, countries could identify critical gaps in their current EO capabilities and infrastructure, adding that this strategic assessment facilitates better integration of EO data into national planning and decision-making processes, promoting more resilient and adaptive strategies for environmental management and disaster response.

He also mentioned that South Africa was one of the countries that were doing well at coordinating EO issues at the national level, emphasising the importance of partnerships in moving forward. And that the goal was to level the playing field; for countries with resources, to assist those without.

After the break, Dr Acheampong and Adv Lulu Makapela discussed the results of the Earth Observations Maturity Indicator (EOMI) survey. The session elicited numerous questions and generated robust discussion.

Dr Nale Mudau and her team concluded Day Two's session with an overview of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA)'s EO products and services, including their work in gathering, processing, and sharing space satellite data with state organs.

She said: “At SANSA we have programmes of which EO is one of them. We have a space programme, which looks at the development of space instruments, including satellites, among others. 

“We also plan on acquiring data from other government institutions that have been acquiring data, and of course then we must look at the licensing agreements. But also, just to archive it and host it – to create awareness and to make the data available to other users.”

On the final day, the workshop focused on bridging the gap between technology and local needs and featured various experts from various fields to discuss how to make EO tools more accessible and useful to countries. 

It also covered topics, such as: empowering local capacity and collaborating for better outcomes.

 

NEOSS teamed up with GEO, AfriGEO, GEOGLAM, Digital Earth Africa, and SANSA, and the CSIR for this groundbreaking workshop and training event.

By Refilwe Thobega, Media Communication Specialist