#Success Story: Satellite data shows how Europe is doing
On 5 June 2020, the European Commission, together with the European Space Agency (ESA), launched a new internet dashboard: RACE (https://race.esa.int) provides information on the effects that the Corona measures have had and are having on the environment and economic life in Europe, and at the same time the website monitors the effects of the easing phase. The website was programmed by the Vienna-based EOX IT Services GmbH, which specialises in the analysis of geo and satellite data.
RACE stands for "Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth observation" and uses various indicators to visualise, among other things, air quality around the globe, the water quality of the upper Adriatic Sea, but also selective agricultural activities or the utilisation of industrial open-air warehouses and large commercial car parks in selected regions of Europe. "Unique data from space is crucial to support crisis management during the coronavirus pandemic," says Josef Aschbacher, the Austrian-born director of ESA's Earth observation programme.
A dashboard made in Austria
The RACE dashboard was programmed in just four weeks by the Vienna-based EOX IT Services GmbH on behalf of ESA and the EU Commission. The company, founded in 2008, specialises in services and solutions in the field of geo and satellite data and acts as a technology partner in European Earth and environmental observation programmes, such as Copernicus. "In the RACE dashboard, we integrate meaningful data that other teams have processed," says EOX CEO Gerhard Triebnig. "Our task was to visualise this data interactively. Because the material is so diverse - including satellite images, tabular data, point data, etc. - it was not so easy to bring it together," Triebnig tells us. "But it's not the first time we've built a site like this - and that's the only reason we were able to realise the dashboard in such a short time. The server architecture also had to be adapted to the expected rush. In the first 24 hours alone, there were 54,000 user accesses with a total of 1.4 million page views on the dashboard.
Via funded projects to the European fixed size
EOX IT Services GmbH has been supported by the FFG in its innovation projects from the very beginning - initially mainly through the Austrian space programme ASAP, later and currently mainly in ESA programmes. "Today we are still a very research-intensive company with a research share of about 15 %," says Gerhard Triebnig. "The foundation of the company in 2008 was made possible in the first place by an FFG start-up project and ESA technology funding. In our portfolio development, we have subsequently also been supported by the Aerospace Agency in the FFG and by ESA. In addition, as experts in the evaluation of geo and satellite data, we have benefited greatly from the fact that Earth observation was and is a priority topic in Austrian space policy." Today, EOX is a European fixture in the ground segment of Earth observation, i.e. in the software for the evaluation and processing of the gigantic masses of data from European satellite programmes.
RACE supports reorientation of the EU economy
So what's next for the RACE dashboard? - For one thing, NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA will contribute data in the coming months so that the impact of the Corona measures on our planet can also be mapped on a global scale. On the other hand, the RACE dashboard will monitor the effects of Europe's economic recovery and thus make it easier to intervene in this phase in a targeted manner. In the future, RACE could also be used to support the reorientation of the European economy towards sustainability and climate protection, according to Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market.