Using Space on Earth: regional perspectives

This year, NEREUS celebrates the 10 years anniversary of the network since the signature of its Political Charter. NEREUS is the Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies, which aims to explore the benefits of space technologies for Regions and their citizens and to spread their applications.

Yesterday I represented Planetek Italia and the Apulian Aerospace Cluster at the #10YearsNEREUS celebration. In my pitch at the session “Using Space on Earth: regional perspectives” I explained the benefits of space technologies for our regions, starting from a dramatic picture of the Vesuvius in flames.

(credits: ADN Kronos/FOTOGRAMMA)

Most of you cannot forget how the 2017 Summer has been daunted by forest fires that burnt hectares of European territory, impacting natural heritage, tourism, security…

In front of this dramatic situation we asked ourselves: what can we do against those disasters? We have thousands of satellite data, we have cloud infrastructures, we have machine learning algorithms developed in our research programs with the Apulian Aerospace Cluster. What can we do?

And so we spoke to the directors of national parks in Italy, and we understood their needs.

Today Planetek Italia helps park authorities to monitor specific areas against forest fires, providing weekly reports on the areas affected by the fires. One example among the others: every week, we provide the Apulian National Park of Alta Murgia, with reports based on satellite data which geo-locate the borders of the areas impacted by the fire. With the Rheticus® Wildfire monitoring service, we classify the events based on the degree of damage caused by the fires to the vegetation as well as to the affected municipalities.

This is crucial to understand the extension of the phenomena, and constitutes the baselines for planning and implementing fire prevention and management activities. Let’s not forget that satellite data also help to control and prevent illegal activities in burnt areas. And we provide all of this in the form of easily understandable reports and infographics.

The moderator, Sally Hardy, then asked me: “Your work speaks for itself, but if we want to move one step further, how would you frame the main benefit of using space technologies?”

And I explained that one of the main benefits of the satellite data provided by Copernicus is the global coverage. The availability of data continuously collected around the world create unprecedented opportunities for the companies in the earth observation market. The service created on a regional base can be offered in other countries, when the right partnership are established between the companies operating in different regional markets.

This is the scope of EUGENIUS, for example. It is an association of EO service providers in Europe using Copernicus data. This network of EO service providers has the ambition to jointly design, create and deliver services and applications related to natural resource management for regional and local customers, primarily public authorities. The applications are based on the very large quantity of geospatial information made available by the Copernicus programme, as well as through numerous local and regional initiatives.

I look forward to working with NEREUS, the Network of European Regions using Space Technologies, under the presidency of the governor of my region Apulia, Michele Emiliano, and beyond, for the next 10 years. We will foster the role of citizens and regions as users of the European Space systems.

Space, indeed, is where we can learn the most about our planet Earth.

Originally published at on November 30, 2017.