While there is a growing demand for Earth observation data and Value-Added Services (VAS), the market remains characterized by fragmentation and obstacles to effective discovery, accessibility, and use of data.


  • Discovery refers to the fact that while Earth observation data can potentially bring numerous benefits to diverse fields such as forestry, agriculture, border control, sustainable development, city planning, and more, typically non-Earth observation experts are not aware of the data or where to find it.
  • Accessibility is the challenge of accessing relevant data in a rapid, cost-effective, and easy-to-use way, since while petabytes of data are produced annually, they are not always accessible in a way for on-experts to use.
  • Finally, use of data refers to the challenges to effectively utilize the Earth observation data in a format and manner which brings value to the user’s activities, for example in a format which can be easily understood by non-experts and applied rapidly to the task at hand.

Compounding these issues is the highly fragmented nature of the Earth observation market. Fragmentation refers to the highly heterogeneous needs, requirements, and preferences of user communities, in terms of what type of Earth observation data they need (optical or radar), its temporal (how frequently the same area is revisited by satellites) and spatial (the level of detail of the imagery, measured in meters or centimeters) resolutions, delivery mechanisms, and more. While Earth observation imagery can certainly bring benefits to both the oil & gas and the biodiversity sectors, the specific needs of these two user communities are very different. Finally, the user communities themselves suffer from a high degree of “silo’ing”, in the sense that they are generally not aware of each other’s existence, even if their Earth observation data requirements are generally very similar. Due to these challenges, the Earth observation market is not as developed as it could be, especially in comparison with other space-related markets, such as in satellite communications and satellite navigation.


The Earth observation market is not as developed as it could be.


How to defragment

In recent years, Earth Observation data and services platforms have become a way to overcome these issues. A large number of platforms have been developed in order to solve the challenges above, increase the use of Earth observation data to non-experts, and provide benefits for academia, industry, and governments. These platforms designed differently, with some offering free data only, others commercial data only, while still others provide both types of data. Some platforms cater to a specific market (for example, for farmers looking to optimize their yields, or development agencies looking to monitor their development assistance projects), while others are more general-purpose. Many platforms are open to developers, who build innovative new services utilizing Earth observation data.


NextGEOSS is Contributing to Overcoming the Fragmentation in the Market

NextGEOSS is one such platform, with the aim to optimize the connectivity of European and Global data centres and create bridges between communities using Earth observation and non-Earth observation data. Euroconsult conducted a targeted interview campaign and online survey to assess the benefits brought about by NextGEOSS. The results indicate that the greatest economic benefits generated by the platform would be derived from cost savings, productivity increases, efficiency increases, and boosting innovation. Within these broader categories, specific benefits include stimulating innovative business models; cost savings via faster processes, more efficient data discovery and access; automated processes saving time and requiring less expertise to use Earth observation data for their activities; NextGEOSS as a “one-stop-shop” saving time and effort, NextGEOSS cloud computing capabilities saving money on hardware; and finally, boosting productivity and maximizing efficiencies.


NextGEOSS is a European Commission-funded, H2020 Research & Innovation Action developing the next-generation centralised European hub for Earth Observation (Earth observation) data, where users can discover and access data as well as deploy Earth observation-based applications. Services are rolled out via 11 NextGEOSS Pilots covering areas such as Agricultural Monitoring, Biodiversity, Disaster Risk Reduction, Smart Cities, and more. The main users for NextGEOSS services include Earth observation Data providers and app developers, science and innovation users such as researchers and academics, downstream commercial services, as well as government (civil and defense) policy- and decision-makers.


Finally, NextGEOSS can also provide intangible benefits, including a Network effect, as well as a Lighthouse effect. NextGEOSS can contribute to overcoming the fragmented nature of different Earth observation data end-users, which often operate in silos, unaware (or under-aware) of other users’ existence, needs, and requirements, and thus not exploiting the many synergies which exist between different end user communities. By bringing together the different end user communities together via an aggregated platform which serves multiple market segments and end-user communities, NextGEOSS can increase efficiencies, maximise productivity, and ultimately increase user revenues by targeting multiple end-user communities simultaneously and taking advantage of the Network effect which a platform such as NextGEOSS can foster.


NextGEOSS is a “one-stop-shop”, saving time and effort.


Simon Simon SeminariSeminari works as a Senior Consultant for Euroconsult’s consulting and research teams, contributing to the analysis of governments’ space policies and programs, with a focus on space programme management, public policy assessment, and socioeconomic impact assessments. Mr. Seminari also focuses on the Earth Observation field. Simon is Project Manager for Euroconsult’s consulting missions related to the EU’s Research and Innovation framework programmes, including responsibility for the H2020-funded project NextGEOSS, which is working to develop and implement a next-generation Earth Observation data and services platform. He was also Project Manager for new emerging technology missions for the European GNSS Agency (GSA), as well as public space policy assessment missions for JAXA, the CSA, and other space agencies.On the research side, Mr. Seminari was Chief Editor for the “Satellite Value Chain” research report, and a main contributor to Euroconsult’s flagship research report “Government Space Programs”, which provides an in-depth look at all global space activities and space missions performed by the world’s leading and emerging space-faring countries. He also contributes to other research reports, notably “Market Prospects for Satellite-based Earth Observation” and “Market Prospects for Small Satellites”.

Learn more about the defragmented Earth observation market and how to improve it in the next webinar in the NextGEOSS Webinar Series on Friday 26th April 2019.

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