Copernicus Sentinels Benefiting Public Agencies
Improving the understanding of Sentinels Benefits through benchmarking of use cases related to specific topics of public interest.
The data from Sentinel satellites is delivering value to society in many ways that are not always obvious. It is used by road agencies to gather precise information to help build better roads – and keep built ones open. It is used by local and regional authorities to monitor the impact of underground water abstraction and to help protect local property. It is used by food producers to improve their crops for less inputs whilst reducing their environmental footprint.
The SeBS project (https://earsc.org/sebs) is showcasing how Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites are benefitting citizens and society. It has showcased about 20 concrete examples, by looking at the impacts derived from the use of Sentinels data throughout the entire value chain and across 6 categories, or dimensions, of value: economic, environmental, regulatory, innovation, science and societal. “Soft” benefits have been increasingly included in the analyses, even when they cannot be straightforwardly monetized. The use cases studied so far revealed that these soft benefits are not negligible, especially for public administrations. For example, having a wide picture of floods can help different emergency services to communicate with each other and with the general public so improving the efficiency of their operation. In the same way, having a common, national picture of potato production is helping different political bodies and industrial actors work better together and improve the overall production in Belgium.
But to what extent are SeBS findings representative of wider benefits accrued (or potentially accruable) across Europe? Each case is very specific, and the benefits derived from the use of the data may be linked to several factors such as geography, market structure, applicable legislation and even local culture. However, as a portfolio of cases is built up, intercomparisons can be attempted which can provide new insights into the intrinsic exportability of the study results. For example, an analysis looking across different cases involving public administrations, confirmed that regulatory benefits may even become the driver for the adoption of Copernicus-based solutions. These results were presented in front of the Copernicus User Forum, and the need for further investigations was highlighted.
As part of the project, a benchmarking exercise is planned during which the project team will analyse commonalities and specificities among different cases addressing similar challenges. Results will also be contrasted with cases where Sentinels data have not been used (yet) which might provide useful counter-factual information. The benchmarking will be performed for a couple of topic areas. To support the identification of the topics and the potential of the available cases for such benchmarking three 60-minute online workshops will be organised in the next few weeks around the following topics:
- Road infrastructure management, whereby Sentinel data is used to monitor ground stability around roads so as to avoid project difficulties and delays, as well as to monitor bridges and tunnels for signs of dangerous movements. In SeBS, relevant cases have been analysed in Norway and in Italy.
- Forest management, whereby authorities can monitor where legal and illegal clearing is happening and to encourage the forest owner to follow best practice methods of forest management. This can also help those exploiting the forest for timber or crops monitor and promote sustainable practices including certification. In SeBS, relevant cases have been analysed in Sweden, Portugal and globally for promoting sustainable practices.
- Water quality monitoring and reporting (against environmental goals), whereby Sentinel data is the only way to gather information on the quality of the water across a large area and numerous lakes and rivers. In SeBS, relevant cases have been analysed in Germany and is in progress in Finland.
For more details see annex. Relevant findings from the SeBS project will be presented and opened for discussion including the views of several of the key organisations concerned in relevant SeBS cases. We shall welcome discussion with any organisations concerned with these topics in their country.
The workshops are expected to allow the project team to build on existing cases and develop a broader picture. Further cases identified in the workshops will be looked at for cross-cutting or transversal benefits and could be analysed more deeply to develop as new full SeBS cases.
Representatives from public administrations delivering services in any of these domains who are making use of Sentinels data, or considering using it, are invited to participate. Please feel free to pass this on to colleagues who may be interested and for you or them to contact one of the principal organisers to register your interest and to discuss any contribution you may wish to make. Information on the project and the reports which have been published can be found at https://earsc.org/sebs.
 Emergency Management in Ireland
 Growing potatoes in Belgium
 See Technical note
 Presentation to the Copernicus User Forum September 30, 2021. Hyperlink
 Roads management in Norway
 Highways management in Italy
 Water Quality management in Germany