The SeBS results workshop “A Tale of Sentinel Benefits” (programme) took place over two days on 18th and 19th November 2021 to present and discuss how Sentinel data is benefiting Citizens and Society. Over 200 people came together virtually to hear 30 users from many diverse sectors, and their suppliers talk about their experience in using Sentinel data for their operational activities.
Mauro Facchini (EC) and Simon Lutz (ESA) welcomed everyone and emphasised how important are the results which the SeBS analyses bring, Alessandra Tassa (ESA) and Geoff Sawyer (EARSC) presented the key points of the methodology being used together with a brief summary of results overall.
At the time of the workshop, the study has completed the analysis of 25 diverse cases looking at the value generated through the use of Sentinel data. The benefits are assessed in 6 dimensions and sometimes the non-monetary benefits are more highly regarded than the financial numbers. Brought together, the portfolio of cases now developed exposes many new insights which have been the subject of cross-cutting or transversal analyses during the study.
Within the body of the workshop, all completed cases published on the SeBS website (www.earsc.org/sebs) were presented. For each full case, a short video animation summarised the case which was then followed by an interview with key stakeholders from the cases. In addition, 3 panels were convened looking at transversal aspects; Sentinels and Start-ups, Environment and Policy Making, Sentinel Benefits for the Environment and Society. Panellists were drawn from some of the relevant cases to exchange their views linked to the SeBS findings.
Some key findings from the workshop:
- The introduction of non-monetary benefits to the analysis has proven to be an extremely important step to expose new sources of value.
- The accumulation of cases analysed into a portfolio is enabling cross-cutting analyses and permitting new insights into benefits, for example, the value to public authorities or the platform benefits (see below).
- A number of the cases are based on products supplied by start-ups and there is good evidence emerging of the power of Sentinels to help stimulate new enterprises (start-ups) as well as innovation in organisations.
- Innovation extends to the customer or primary user as well as the supplier. Many instances show how internal processes have been modified by access to the new information sources.
- There is a benefit potential being created with details frequently unknown to the data provider. It was reported that users plug the new data into their GIS systems, experiment using those, innovate, learn, and create more value. At large, the new data stimulates the users to improve their work and they may individually explore original ideas.
- The flow of freely available data is a good basis for driving higher value which supports the policy of free and open data (not just EO data).
- A strong message emerged regarding the building of platforms for improved co-operation between and within organisations. There is evidence that the new data helps in reaching agreement between the industry players, which is important for achieving smooth operation, transparent, and responsible business. We associate this with the Ireland and Belgium cases, but others start to tell the same story. Most apparent was perhaps Sweden where a threat (the bark beetle) turns into a recognition that this can best be addressed with an industry-wide effort. But it was also touched upon in other cases such as Germany and Norway.
- Certification of services may be a useful way to improve confidence in suppliers and the quality of their products.
- EO can trigger or enable certain regulatory interventions, such as providing the basis for the “freedom with responsibility” approach in Sweden.
- Regulatory frameworks at different levels (EU, national, regional, local) determine what kind of monitoring can be used. In principle, if a regulation does not specifically recommend the use of Copernicus/EO/RS, it may be precluded for agencies to use it.
- Nonetheless, if Copernicus/EO/RS is not “permitted/foreseen” by a regulation, some authorities choose to make use of EO data and tools to solve their operational problems – EO becomes an additional tool used supporting the mandate/mission of the authority. However, this implies that a) these authorities are allowed to choose their own methods b) there is financing available for this (for both a) and b), it is not always the case).
In conclusion, the exchanges collectively confirmed the findings from the SeBS reports published so far and reinforced the message that Sentinels data is generating concrete benefits for society. Users are eager to exploit Copernicus data as a support to their manifold activities. As succinctly summarized by Jarkko Toivola, Head of the Maritime Unit and Director Waterways at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, can we have………“More pictures please!”.
Finally, the workshop itself provided some useful lessons for the organisers which can be summarised as:
- The SeBS approach seems to be effective. The methodology is robust and provides a sound framework for the analysis. It should be constantly reviewed and reinforced where possible.
- The commitment of SeBS cases’ primary users is key to understand the nature of value brought by the Sentinels data for their own organisations and is also key to communicate. Their willingness to devote time to the workshop was felt as a good indicator that their organisations are also able to profit from the detailed analyses carried out.
- The workshop was long and dense. Yet, much more time could have been devoted to discussing the single The 10 to 12 minutes allocated for each full case allowed a highly interesting discussion which could have been taken even further had time permitted. This suggests that dedicated mini-workshops could be organised.
- The videos were highly appreciated: they provide a succinct and entertaining summary of the cases in a readily communicable form. As a matter of fact, many persons have asked for access following the workshop. All videos are now published on the project website alongside the case reports and flyers.