European Space Agency

Field: information technology,
Earth sciences

Joint research in this field is carried out within the Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform project of the European
Space Agency in collaboration with the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und
Raumfahrt, DLR), GISAT and others. The expanding operational capability to acquire a huge amount volume of data from space by modern Earth observation (EO) missions led the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch the Thematic Exploitation Platform (TEP) initiative in 2014. In the first phase, the overall goal of the TEP program was to develop and implement a number of thematically oriented platforms, virtual environments facilitating the search for data acquired by Earth observation. These platforms provide user communities not only with access to the mass data archives of EO missions but also with the information and communication technology needed for their effective processing, analysis, and visualization. Currently, the TEP program includes the Coastal, Forestry, Geohazards, Hydrology, Polar (polar areas), Food Security (food cultivation sustainability), and Urban (population) platforms. IT4Innovations is actively involved in the last one mentioned – the Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform (Urban TEP).

The general TEP idea follows the principle of bringing users to the data and analytics tools. The fundamental objective of the Urban TEP is to provide an open and participatory workplace where any interested (expert or non-expert) user can find end-to-end and ready-to-use solutions (data and tools) to extract unique information
and indicators required for urban management and sustainability. Thematic applications include, for xample, generation of cloud-free mosaics of the Earth’s surface to provide a consistent view of the built environment, tracing global urbanization, regional land-use dynamics, and the deployment of processing functionalities for the derivation of orthomosaics and digital surface models from drone data.The Urban TEP is operated by an international consortium of five partners, including the German Aerospace Center (Germany) as the lead and Brockmann Consult GmbH (Germany), Terradue Srl (Italy), and IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Center and Gisat s.r.o. (Czech Republic). DLR and Brockmann Consult are domain experts for thematic analyses, and together with IT4Innovations these three partners also provide the infrastructures for the data storage and data processing services. Terradue is responsible for developing the web portal and its visualization services. Gisat is developing a Visualisation and Analytics Toolbox that serves as the backbone for joint analysis and visualization of all data layers available
at the platform.

In the next phase, the Urban TEP activities focus on a systematic enhancement and streamlining of the platform capabilities and product/service functionalities
to meet the requirements of a fully operational and sustainable platform.


Interest in the use of the Urban TEP platform

As of the end of the Urban TEP pre-operations phase in June 2018, more than 300 institutions from more than 40 countries have expressed interest in the products, services, and system
access, with 40% of the users coming from the scientific community, 30% from public institutions, 20% from non-profit/
non-governmental organizations, and 10% from the commercial sector.