Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

FAO: Sharing and learning about latest trends in Earth Observation at the European Space Agency

FAO’s Geospatial Unit took part in Earth Observation Week, organized by the European Space Agency (ESA). The event focused on Earth Observation (EO) Open Science and Future Earth Observation and took place at the European Space Research Institute in Frascati, Italy. The aim of the event, that took place in November last year was to review the latest developments in Open Science trends.

Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes, talked about the innovations and the challenges for EO Science today: “Integrating more and more frequent satellite programmes with other types of remote sensor such as nanosatellites, drones and High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) will mean many more eyes on the sky...and the industry is changing”, he went on to say “…with big players fueling the development of new opportunities and markets”.

The amount of information being produced every year does however pose new challenges: How can we handle this huge flow of information? What science and technology will enable us to extract the knowledge that will make predictions and decisions more accurate? These were all questions debated and discussed during the event.

The FAO team had a stand where they shared materials on their Geospatial work and tools with emerging space investors, entrepreneurs, Earth Observation researchers and space scientists. They valued the chance to exchange ideas and discuss the application of machine learning tasks (deep learning, convolutional neural network – for analyzing visual imagery, random forest, support vector machine - a supervised machine learning algorithm) for the operational assessment and monitoring of land resources.

FAO’s Forestry team also attended the conference and presented Open Foris and SEPAL  (System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring). Open Foris is a set of free and open-source software tools that facilitate flexible and efficient data collection, analysis and reporting. SEPAL allows users to query and process satellite data quickly and efficiently and is used in forest monitoring in developing countries.

Selected sessions in this unique and exciting event were being streamed live:

For further information about the event, the agenda and outcomes:

Photo Credits: ESA/J. Mai