EO-2-2017: EO Big Data Shift

Main pillar: 

  • Space


7 500 000



Call deadline: 

Wed, 1 Mar 2017


  • Forthcoming


Specific Challenge:

Effective access to Copernicus dedicated mission data and Copernicus service information by public and private users is a sine qua non condition for the achievement of Copernicus' objectives.

In this context, Copernicus faces important challenges. First, the multiplicity of Copernicus partners involved in Copernicus dissemination activities requires both flexible and effective coordination. At the moment Copernicus dissemination infrastructure is built around different dissemination platforms operated by Member States (as in the collaborative ground segment), ESA, EUMETSAT, and service operators, which are in the process of being made interoperable. Second, the sheer volume of data and information to be disseminated and used, puts Copernicus at the forefront of the big data challenges. This new paradigm requires a change of approach to data curation and dissemination, in the form of a technological leap to both ingest processing and make available the increased volume of Copernicus data and information considering both temporal and spatial resolutions. As a reward, the Big Data paradigm offers new perspectives for data intensive activities where Europe could still close its technological gap with the US with huge industrial implication.

The free, full and open data policy will support the development of a strong Earth observation downstream service industry if an effective and scalable dissemination system is implemented to meet the Big Data exploitation challenges and to address the full data cycle needs (e.g. standardised data query, retrieval, data exchange methods, processing). Therefore, Europe needs to foster a Copernicus dissemination infrastructure spurred by a vibrant European downstream sector taking advantage of the timely availability of the Copernicus data and information to provide innovative Earth observation information products on a worldwide basis based on European Internet platforms using advanced big data technologies and serving a worldwide market.


Two main strands of activities are expected to be addressed: (i) the evolution of the Copernicus data infrastructure; and (ii) the adaptation of big data technologies to Copernicus user scenarios (i.e. data discovery and analytics to store and extract information).

Proposals should take into account needs emerging from ongoing linked actions within Copernicus including the dissemination platform; access to data and the Collaborative Ground Segment. To that end an information document will be made available as part of the general call package.

In particular:

(i) the evolution of the Copernicus data infrastructure should foster innovative business models for data exploitation allowing for numerous new users. Projects should should propose scenarios for the platforms for EO data use processing and storage. This new paradigm requires a change of approach to data curation, processing, dissemination and the way data are used. Cross-fertilisation with other big data domains is needed to ensure that EO data exploitation can benefit other domains/sectors (and that tools are in place), and that lessons learnt in other sectors can be benefitted from. The latter includes for instance experiences in strategies for co-locating or distributing processing to different levels, dissemination of data and archiving including products for merging different sources e.g. data co-registration and fusion in temporal and spatial domains.

(ii) Big Data, activities shall bridge the gap between Earth observation and information technology sectors taking into account the user needs for EO Big Data and aiming at developing innovative solutions. taking into account the needs of 1) non-expert users like policy makers involved in societal challenges, 2) experts involved, and 3) small and medium innovative enterprises. Activities shall be complementary to activities enabled by the ICT and research infrastructures work programmes which address generic challenges in the area of data mining, open linked data, web ontology, digital earth[1].

Activities are expected to address any aspect of the data lifecycle which can solve EO big data challenges , in particular data management activities (e.g. collection, processing including online processing, quality control, documentation, dissemination, cataloguing, preservation, usage tracking, integration) and usage activities (e.g. discovery, reception, analysis, product generation, user feedback, tagging, knowledge extraction, decision making). Activities are also expected to extensively use flexible coverage and open processing standards.

In projects to be funded under this topic participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 and 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

  • Make access to the Copernicus data and information easy and user friendly through scalable dissemination and exploitation platforms based on international standards;
  • Foster the establishment of interoperable access facilities to all EU Member States;
  • Link the Copernicus interoperable data with the EU Open Data Portal, as appropriate
  • Implement sustainable industrial solutions to meet the Big Data challenges;
  • Provide user community tools within the dissemination platforms including best-practices;
  • Ensure resilience of the overall dissemination and exploitation system.
  • Optimise the use of Copernicus data by non-traditional user communities to meet societal challenges.

[1]For example e-infrastructure for Research: Network (GÉANT), processing (PRACE), data network, Federation of research infrastructure with single sign on (eduGAIN).

Call documents: