Project Acronym: GEO-CRADLE
Project title: Coordinating and integRating state-of-the-art Earth Observation Activities in the regions of North Africa, Middle East, and Balkans and Developing Links with GEO related initiatives towards GEOSS
Project Number: 690133
Starting date: 01/02/2016
Duration in months: 34
Call (part) identifier: H2020-SC5-2015-one-stage
Topic: SC5-18b-2015, Integrating North African, Middle East and Balkan Earth Observation capacities in GEOSS
In a Nutshell
The continuous provision of accurate and timely information through coordinated and sustained Earth Observation (EO) activities is considered a key enabler for informed decision making in response to challenges such as adaptation to climate change, improved food security & water extremes management, better access to raw materials and energy and many more. In this context, large international initiatives such as GEO and Copernicus are promoting the integration and coordination of Earth Observation capacities at regional, national and international levels.
Despite the important progress made over the past years in the Balkans and in North Africa, in both regions, but even more so in the Middle East, there still exist critical gaps in the uptake of Earth Observation activities. This includes a disparate level of development with regards to cooperation between the various EO stakeholders, ineffective exploitation of available resources and expertise, limited public awareness on the benefits of EO services and low involvement of the industrial sector.
GEO-CRADLE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, and will be running from 2016 to 2018 with the aim to tackle these challenges and promote the uptake and exploitation of Earth Observation activities in North Africa, Middle East and the Balkans. To this end, the project has brought together 25 partners from 3 continents, to work in a highly-complementary team that combines a strong background in EO coordination activities with proven scientific excellence in four key thematic areas (adaptation to climate change, improved food security & water extremes management, access to raw materials, and access to energy).
The project strives to:
- enhance the current knowledge of existing EO capacities in the region (through an ongoing survey),
- facilitate the cooperation between EO stakeholders (through a networking platform and several events),
- identify the gaps and the maturity level (through analysis) and boost the maturity of the different countries in the region,
- enable the exchange of EO data (by setting up a Regional Data Hub),
- showcase concrete ways of tackling regional challenges related to adaptation of climate change, improved food security & water extremes management, better access to raw materials and energy (through feasibility studies),
- propose a roadmap for the implementation of GEO, GEOSS and Copernicus in the three regions.
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GEO-CRADLE brings together key players from three regions (Balkans, North Africa and Middle East) representing the entire Earth Observation (EO) value chain, with the overarching objective of establishing a multi-regional coordination network that:
GEO-CRADLE places special focus on the uptake of EO services and data as a means for the effective response to regional challenges. To that end, the project will carry out four feasibility studies showcasing the potential of a consolidated regional EO platform for coping with critical societal and economic challenges in the areas of adaptation to climate change, improved food security and water extremes management, better access to raw materials and natural resources and a more efficient exploitation of renewable energy sources.
The effective integration of EO capacities in the region is the key enabler towards the realisation of GEOSS. GEO-CRADLE has launched an extensive stakeholder consultation activity that will help to create a comprehensive picture of the available EO capacities, identify gaps and capture the level at which user needs are met by existing EO services. Moreover, through the development of Regional Data Hub, the project will facilitate access to and sharing of EO data across and beyond the region of interest.
GEO-CRADLE aims at creating a regional network that will enable the engagement of regional stakeholders across the complete EO value chain (end-users, service providers, scientists and policy makers), and will act as an interface to GEO, Copernicus and other international initiatives. This regional network will support the coherent collection of users’ feedback with regards to needs and priorities, the promotion of best practices and a series of awareness raising activities to inform decision makers on the EO benefits across different business sectors and scientific domains.
GEO-CRADLE aims to act as a catalyst towards the implementation of GEOSS and Copernicus in the three regions by further extending the impact and magnitude of GEO-related activities in the Balkan region; by building on the momentum created in N. Africa by initiatives such as AfriGEOSS and BRAGMA; and by addressing the significant under-representation of Middle East countries in GEO.
By doing so, GEO-CRADLE aspires to pave the ground for a new large initiative in this very particular by all means (e.g. geostrategic, climate, cultural) region.
The vision of GEO-CRADLE is to pave the way for the sustainable and continuous uptake and exploitation of Earth Observation services in North Africa, Middle East and the Balkans. The different activities undertaken by the GEO-CRADLE have been defined and are pursued in way that ensures appropriate coordination mechanisms and necessary tools are put in place during the lifetime of the project but are also used beyond that.
Therefore, through the establishment of the GEO-CRADLE network and the parallel support of networking activities by a dedicated portal, the project aspires to ensure one of the fundamental requirements for coordinated EO activities; that is an attractive and comprehensive platform, named the Regional Networking Platform, where regional stakeholders can be informed on existing capacities, complementary skills and collaboration opportunities.
Another key output of GEO-CRADLE that can contribute to the long-term uptake of EO activities in the region is the operation of the Regional Data Hub. By providing access to region-related datasets and services, directly fed from the GEOSS-portal, and at the same time being the centralised gateway for regional data providers to contribute easily and timely their products to GEOSS, the Regional Data Hub is designed to become the focal node in the region in the context of GEOSS and Copernicus implementation.
The Regional Data Hub is expected to act as the cornerstone for promoting better sharing of information and knowledge amongst EO stakeholders in the region, in line with GEOSS Data Sharing principles.
Furthermore, through the elaboration of novel maturity indicators, the project aspires to build adequate knowledge of the level and progress of GEO and Copernicus involvement in each country. In turn, this will allow the definition of a long-term roadmap that takes into account the concrete regional priorities and utilises the outputs of the feasibility studies with regards to some of the most pressing of them (i.e. adaptation to climate change, improved food security & water extremes management, better access to raw materials and energy).
Equipped with these outputs, the project partners but also the various stakeholders who are involved throughout the execution of the project, are more empowered to maximise the impact of EO activities, be it for informed decision making or boost of EO businesses. Thus, in line with the key drivers behind GEO and Copernicus, the ultimate vision of GEO-CRADLE is to lay the foundations for a follow-up large-scale initiative in the region, towards the realisation of EO benefits in key societal and industrial sectors.