“Faster, Higher, Stronger” is not only an inspirational call to start-ups and young entrepreneurs to develop and launch EO-based services in the market. It is also the reality experienced today at the interface of Earth Observation with Big Data:

  • Higher – the volume of Earth Observation data has grown almost exponentially in the past few years, with the Sentinels alone producing approx. 20TB per day; storing, managing, processing and analysing this data is at the heart of the Big EO data trend.
  • Faster – the velocity at which data is being collected has significantly increased both for open (e.g. Sentinels – 5 days) and private datasets (e.g. Planet – daily). This, in turn, requires faster processing capabilities in order to support (near)real time service models. 
  • Stronger – the possibility to extract additional value associated with insights “hidden” in big data makes for a stronger value proposition; for this to work innovative algorithms and techniques are required.

Alongside these 3 “V’s”, lie the two remaining ones: the variety of data captured with different sensors at different scales and using different techniques; and the veracity or more simply trust in the accuracy of the data.

Tiede et al 2017
Tiede et al 2017

Within this Big Data framework, the efforts of the community are focussed broadly on enabling the execution of “any query, anytime, on any size” and on “bringing the user to the data, not the data to the user”. In practice, this translates into the proliferation of web-based platforms providing not only access to the data, but also advanced cloud-based or HPC-backed computational resources, innovative algorithms and, in principle, marketplace features.

All this relies on the development of state-of-the-art technical solutions for data access, visualisation, analytics, processing and management. At the same time, intensified efforts on the development of widely adopted standards and solid legal frameworks, are essential.

Recognising the importance of untapping the potential of Big EO data, PARSEC will make available to 2nd stage beneficiaries the Big Data Toolbox. In addition, through the market trends observatory and the technology watch we will be shedding light on some of the key issues associated with this major trend. Stay tuned!