The annual meeting of GEO (Group on Earth Observations) will take place between the 23 and 27 of October in Washington DC. There are two sessions organized by CREAF: one centering on citizen science, and the other on future prospects for EuroGEOSS.
Each year, the international organization GEO – an organization which has representation from the majority of the world’s countries as well as private and public entities in the field of Earth Observation – holds a plenary conference to discuss activities in the field and hold debates on new challenges of global interest. At the same time, a GEO WEEK is organized where experts in this field share interests and expertise on technical and scientific topics during a whole week in the form of exhibitions in stands and sessions for discussion.
This year, CREAF members Joan Masó and Ivette Serral participated in two sessions. “We organized a session which was designed to open debate on the topic of the role of citizen science in Earth Observation. We ourselves work in the project Ground Truth 2.0, which analyzes European initiatives on citizen participation, and we want to share our results and current challenges with the other attendees,” says Ivette. She adds, “there are still questions about the use of these data, because there are issues of data volume, quality parameters, and so on. This will be a chance to sit down and talk about and organize the response to such challenges within GEO.”
CREAF also organized a second session which focused on research and innovation in geospatial data and its integrative treatment on the European level within GEO. “Some countries have regional groups within the GEO who are responsible for processing Earth Observation data and its management (AmeriGEOSS, AfriGEOSS, etc). Now, the European Commission wants to promote a similar initiative at European level, what is being called EuroGEOSS. We want to center this session on discussion of European necessities in terms of geospatial data and the most promising proposals in each case,” says the researcher. She continues, “CREAF has two projects, ERA-Planet and ECOpotential which serve to generate improved understanding of planetary changes with advanced technologies and serving, among other uses, to build the new EuroGEOSS proposal.”
This places MiraMon among the first to offer free specific remote sensing software and is now included in the set of free online Geographic Information System (GIS) tools.
After 23 years of constant evolution and improvements, MiraMon aims to take another step forward and become an international leader in its sector. To achieve this, the team and its creator have decided that, starting this September, MiraMon will be free for the education community worldwide: education centres, associated entities and students.
“We took this decision with the aim of increasing the number of users, not only in Spain, but in Europe and around the world”, says Xavier Pons, professor of Geography at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and researcher at CREAF, creator of MiraMon.
“With this decision, our pioneering position in remote sensing software with a full integration of GIS continues to be free and we will join the other GIS which also offer their programmes at no cost”, he concludes.
Its robustness, high performance and accuracy, together with the facility of acquiring it for free, has made MiraMon one of the most well-known and used Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Catalonia, where it has gained thousands of users since it was created in 1994, thanks to an agreement with the Government of Catalonia. With this recent decision, the creator of the software and his team aim to obtain similar levels of success in many other countries. Behind MiraMon there is a group of professionals from the CREAF and the UAB with over 20 years of experience in developing GIS, treating satellite images and managing servers, geospatial data portals and big data.
A Tool Designed for Education
Some 200,000 people use MiraMon in 38 different countries. It is worth highlighting its use in several graduate programmes, at the UAB in Catalonia and at the National Distance Education University (UNED) in Spain. Research and secondary education centres, as well as natural parks also use the software.
The free MiraMon Professional offers unique functionalities which are very useful to the education community. First of all because a large portion of its developers are also teachers who are constantly designing and improving the contents in order to maximise its potential as an educational tool. Secondly, and equally important, is its easy installation and management in classrooms and laboratories, given that it depends on no third party configurations or compilations, and has no license validation problems. Its robust structure also behaves in a homogeneous manner in several of the operating systems’ platforms and versions.
MiraMon includes a professional development team offering personalised and on-going services via e-mail or telephone.
There are also a multi-language User Forum, a Versions Diary where users are informed about all the new improvements and changes, and there are several beginner and advanced courses users can take to improve their knowledge of the tool.
Tailor-Made for Earth Observation R&D
MiraMon is especially powerful as a remote sensing software, with more features than other GIS softwares. It includes tools especially designed for this objective, such as the correction of the geometry of satellite, aircraft and drones imagery; the correction of the radiometric data (in the solar, thermal, etc. spectrum); platform and sensor normalised metadata (which permits both an easy and accurate use); a joint support for the multiple spectral bands recorded by remote sensing tools; thematic mapping image converters (classifiers), and an advanced generation of diverse statistics with the aim of discovering the quality of products obtained from the viewpoints of producers and end users.
At the same time, it includes a highly complete and specialised metadata manager which contains two tools. Firstly, a MetaData Manager (GeMM) which permits generating, editing and storing metadata and relations with other single layer or cartographic series databases. The GeMM follows the INSPIRE Directive and complies with all standards (ISO 19115, FGDC, etc).
In contrast to other simply documental applications, the GeMM controls the consistency of metadata and confirms its coherence with the data.
Moreover, it also contains an application called Metadata Catalog, designed according to the Core ISO 19115 scheme and elements, which allows creating a customizable web interface to consult the catalogue.
Finally, MiraMon offers the possibility of automating many processes thanks to the design and implementation of algorithms in high performance distributed environments or in multi-core computers (known as parallelisation, allowing a greater amount of data to be treated and which makes MiraMon unique in its sector).
Trial Tool and Development of International Standards
MiraMon is a development and experimentation platform for the main geospatial standards in interoperability (of data, quality and compression and preservation of data).
The MiraMon team works on several European projects focused on international standards and interoperability. It also participates in a large number of international platforms related to this subject.
With the help of the MiraMon open source technology, interoperable visualisation portals can be created, and geoinformation queries and downloads can be done through the internet.
This research initiative financed by the European Horizon 2020 program has 47 partners, including CREAF, and a budget of 15 million euros.
Terrestrial and marine ecosystems provide essential goods and services for human societies. However, over the last few decades human pressure has become a principal threat to ecosystem integrity, function, and processes. For this reason, policies should be based on the most up-to-date knowledge in conservation, management, and restoration of the environment, helping to improve and defend these resources against growing pressures. The goal of the Ecopotential project is to propose technological approaches and solutions for improving ecosystem benefits.
The approaches and solutions will be based on Earth observation, field measurements, data analysis, and modeling.
Ecopotential will focus its activities and pilot actions on a set of internationally-recognized protected natural areas in Europe, including mountain ecosystems, arid and semi-arid areas, coastal areas, and marine ecosystems. The Ecopotential project is financed by the Horizon 2020 program and has a budget of 15 million euros, and an expected execution period of 48 months.
CREAF coordinates a work package in which more than 20 institutions work together to gather Earth remote sensing data (optical photographs, multispectral images, radar, etc.) and produce new information from this data using algorithms (for instance, maps of land use, foliar index, etc.). These data will be used by ecologists and modelers to quantify ecosystem services provided by the different natural protected areas considered within the scope of the project. CREAF will also adapt the GIS software MiraMon to provide access to and work with data resulting from this work. MiraMon will also facilitate access to a virtual laboratory created during the project.
A virtual laboratory will be created to simplify the use of environmental data by scientists, political leaders, and citizens.
In Ecopotential, all of the data, results of the models, and knowledge acquired will be available on open platforms, consistent with the principles of data exchange of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and completely interoperable with Common Infrastructure of GEOSS (GCI).
This project, which began in April, has a total of 47 partners, including research centers, universities, and different world governmental organizations (including the United Nations and UNESCO), and also includes non-European countries Australia, Israel, and South Africa.
Project Twitter: @ECOPOTENTIALprj
Project web site: http://www.ecopotential-project.eu/
CREAF coordinates the European project WaterInnEU, whose objective is to create a marketplace connecting results of European R&D on water with potential users. Through WaterInnEU, it is hoped that tools, protocols, and data produced by European research can be standardised, provided via open access, and that they are transferred to actors in the water management sector with decision-making power, or that they penetrate into the market in the form of products and services.
Over the last few decades the European Union has financed a large number of R&D projects with the objective of creating valuable technologies and knowledge relating to water. This has resulted in the development of innumerable tools, guides, models, protocols, and reports which have not been circulated sufficiently among end users and have not been very accessible. To help resolve this issue, the European Union has financed a support and coordination action called WaterInnEU, led by CREAF, with 1 million Euros. The project begins today with a kick-off meeting at the Casa de Convalecencia (Barcelona) with the eight project members and representatives of the European Commission.
According to the European Union, the proposal presented by CREAF has a quite innovative focus and could turn this problem around. To begin, WaterInnEU proposes the creation of an active community with interrelated components and members. Technologically, this community will be supported on a virtual marketplace handling products and knowledge deriving from European projects relating to water and connecting them to users, businesses, and managers who could benefit from their use. The virtual marketplace will be developed synergistically with the European Innovation Partnership for Water (EIP Water), managed by the European Union, with the final objective of integrating the marketplace into the European institutional portal.
WaterInnEU will be an interactive project, identifying technological needs of the water sector and promoting innovative solutions which prove most promising.
The project will establish dialogue with the principal actors of this sector in order to identify which preliminary research project results are most likely to arrive to the public, either because they have good chances of getting to the marketplace, or, for example, because they offer improvements in the efficient management of water resources.
Through the marketplace WaterInnEU will offer consulting and professional technical services such as to boost the amount of research results arriving to the market or to make scientific results more understandable when they arrive to managers and decision-making actors of the water sector. “If within the marketplace we identify, for example, data or mathematical hydrological models which can help a small or medium-sized company develop a new product, we will guide the transformation of the result of research into a new product or service and its future use,” says Lluís Pesquer, CREAF researcher coordinating the project.
Open access and interoperable data
Through WaterInnEU, it is also hoped that all the information generated during the last few decades in the area of water (data, metadata, tools, models, etc.) will be progressively harmonized as much as possible, standardized, and put into open access. To do this, the project will formulate a plan to promote interoperability and prepare information for its use and reutilization by all end users. “Interoperability is an essential re quirement for [a product's] incorporation into our marketplace, but at the same time this is what can open more doors and better guarantee final success. Interoperability will make the new product or service much more connectable, reusable, and recognizable,” comments Joan Masó, CREAF expert on interoperability.
The WaterInnEU consortium includes CREAF as coordinator, the Technische Universiteit Delft (Holland), the German companies 52°North Initiative for Geospatial Open Source Software and Adelphi Research, the companies RandBee (Italy), Antea Belgium (Belgium) i Orion Innovations, (Regne Unit) and the Global Water Partnership – Central and Eastern Europe (Slovakia).
Project Website : www.waterinneu.org/
El Màster Universitari en Teledetecció i SIG starts this year with more than 80% of the available seats.
The Master in Remote Sensing and GIS offers 20 seats per course to new students, plus 7 extra seats to those students from previous editions when the Master was an own title, who want to have their title validated.
The course began the last September 25 with 17 new students. Geography and Environmental Sciences are the studies that provide more students, with 8 and 4 respectively. The rest of the students come from degrees like Geology (2), Topography (2) or Systems engineering. This year 4 students had asked for the validation of the previous title.
More information about the training programs of CREAF.
John Maso, CREAF researcher organizes the group named Geospatial User Feedback Standards Working Group with Sim Thum Fraunhofer Institute and Lucy Basten Aston University.
Members of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) have formed an OGC Geospatial User Feedback Standards Working Group (SWG). The purpose of this SWG will be to reach consensus on a standard way to encode users’ comments on the results those users obtain when querying spatial databases. This effort has the potential to improve metadata, complement the producer quality indicators, extend the documentation about usability and usage of datasets, help data producers improve their data collection and publishing methods, and ultimately improve the quality of the data as well as the quality of analyses performed on the data.
The OGC Geospatial User Feedback SWG charter can be downloaded fromhttps://portal.opengeospatial.org/files/59800.
The explosive growth of geospatial data and related metadata has decreased the efficiency of data search catalogues. That is, the increase in the number of data resources often makes the discovery of a dataset that fits user requirements very time consuming. To make searches more efficient, many projects, such as GeoViQua (www.geoviqua.org/), are collecting user feedback. All would benefit from a common user feedback model that is easy to implement, simple enough for the user to understand, and powerful enough to provide useful information for data providers.
The GeoViQua User Feedback Model (http://www.geoviqua.org/UserFeedbackSystem.htm) offers a starting point for this discussion.
The SWG’s first task is to develop a conceptual model that will serve the purpose of creating one or more encodings for user feedback.
The Geospatial User Feedback SWG convenors invite the participation of interested parties from across a broad range of the geosciences, academic institutions, and commercial and government organizations that are interested in improving metadata catalogues and discovery portals so that they provide users with better, more “fit for use” results and data assessment capabilities.
The conveners of the GFU SWG are Joan Masó of CREAF, Simon Thum of the Fraunhofer Institute and Lucy Bastin of Aston University.
The following charter members of the SWG are committed to the charter and projected meeting schedule. Others may join this list before the SWG is officially chartered.
Joan Masó – CREAF
Lucy Bastin – Aston University
Veronica Guidetti – European Space Agency
Lorenzo Bigagli – CNR Institute for Atmospheric Pollution Research
Simon Thum – Fraunhofer Institute
Daniel Nüst – 52° North
Erin Robinson – Foundation for Earth Science
Ted Habermann – HDF Group
Dorothea B DeHart – National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
A new method developed by CREAF and the Autonomous University of Barcelona allows the automatic processing of thousands of satellite images taken by Landsat without manual intervention or the need of atmospheric data.
For 40 years Landsat satellites have photographed all Spanish territory every 16 days at a resolution of 30 meters (or every 18 days at a resolution of 60 meters in the case of older photos). These images give insight into how the territory has changed over the last few decades. For analysis, it is necessary that these images be as comparable as possible, achieved by correcting the effects that atmosphere and relief have on illumination. This type of correction is called radiometric correction and to date this has been done using a manual process using an algorithm, and in the hands of an expert approximately one image approximately 30 minutes could be corrected. Now, CREAF and the Autonomous University of Barcelona have published a new method in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation that allows the correction of satellite images without manual intervention. “This new method makes it possible that while the machines are correcting non-stop a large series of images, the experts dedicate their time to posterior analyses which are less mechanical and much more interesting,” comments Lluís Pesquer, CREAF researcher and member of the GRUMETS group (CREAF-UAB).
This new method is a change in paradigm because it makes it possible to correct terabytes of images without dedicating many human resources, and as a result, making possible possible projects which before were non-viable.
Additionally, the algorithm developed by CREAF does not need the atmospheric data from the moment in which the image was taken. This gives it an advantage against other correction algorithms which do need this information, and allows it to automatically correct old Landsat images in periods and regions where these data are not available.
Big Data projects for studying global change
Up until now, with the manual method and the limitations of time and resources, projects related to global change or the environment were mostly based in products with less spatial resolution (for example MODIS with 500 meter resolution) or in some cases in a limited number of images, for instance using a reduced selection. “This new correction method allows us to work with volumes of information called Big Data, a new scenario in which our investigative possibilities and work methods are radically changed and amplified,” comments Xavier Pons, professor of the Department of Geography of the UAB and leader of the GRUMETS group (CREAF-UAB). In fact, this new method is already being applied to the DinaClive project with the objective of evaluating, using thousands of satellite images, how land use and cover of the whole Iberian Peninsula have changed over 40 years, what factors have modified the landscape (urbanization, climate change, drought, biological invasions, wildfires, etc.) and the real impacts of climate change on the territory.