EO secretariat holds stakeholder meeting

June 1st, 2012, Published in Articles: PositionIT

The National Earth Observation and Space Secretariat (NEOSS), in collaboration with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), held a stakeholder meeting at the end of May. The objective of the meeting was to introduce NEOSS, promote active participation in SA-GEO and its communities of practices, and provide a live demonstration of the the South African Earth Observation System (SAEOS) portal.

Wim Hugo (SAEON), Natalie Diemer (SANSA), Terry Newby (NEOSS) and Imraan Saloojee (DST)

Imraan Saloojee, from the DST’s Earth Observation Directorate, provided an overview of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) which is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). He spoke about the South African Earth Observation System (SAEOS) and how it will tie in with GEOSS. He outlined how SAEOS coordinates the collection, assimilation and dissemination of earth observation data and detailed how it provides an overarching national framework for earth observation in South Africa. Saloojee also stressed the need for EO activities to be co-ordinated, for interoperable architecture and formats, and for data sharing in order for South Africa to benefit fully from EO.

Terry Newby from NEOSS spoke about the South African Group on Earth Observations (SA-GEO), a voluntary community of South African Earth Observers. He explained that SA-GEO will be organised around communities of practice (CoP) based on societal benefit areas such as water, agriculture, biodiversity, sensor-webs, etc. These CoPs will be run by volunteer members with the support of NEOSS which will provide Secretariat services for SA-GEO. He also added that plans are being put together to hold the first SA-GEO Symposium in September this year.

The delegates present were asked to help populate the CoPs as this will help to grow and nurture the SAEOS portal thereby encouraging South Africa’s contributions to GEO tasks and GEOSS. Newby added that the objectives of SA-GEO are to advocate the use of EO in decision-making, to mobilise a co-ordinated EO community, to establish the user needs of the EO community, to encourage use of the SAEOS portal, and to advocate free and open access to EO data.

SANSA’s Natalie Diemer provided the delegates with details on the Earth Observation Data Centre (EODC) and the various EO national datasets. This was followed by a demonstration by Wim Hugo (SAEON) of the SAEOS platform which is being prepared for launch later in the year. Hugo stated that the SAEOS platform has evolved over time and the final product is taking on a user-orientated platform. He explained that he was working closely with the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) and detailed the various implementation options. He expanded on some of the challenges saying that there was a need for further stakeholder and Committee for Spatial Information (CSI) engagement to facilitate the process.

Contact Terry Newby, NEOSS, Tel 012 841-2266, tnewby@csir.co.za