Enpowering the International Development Community to generate their own Water and Wetland Datasets

Event date: 
20 November 2020

Empowering the International Development Community to Produce their Own Water/Wetland Datasets Through a Novel EO Data Processing & Management Environment

Norman Kiesslich, GeoVille GmbH, Austria

The rapidly increasing availability of free and open Earth Observation (EO) data archives and continuous advances in processing, storage and access technology significantly increase the potential of this information technology to the International Development Community that requires access to large scale monitoring at low cost. Many Sustainable Development (SD) projects require information on natural resources and their changing availability and quality over time and would greatly benefit from EO solutions. This is particularly the case in the hydrology domain, where monitoring the dynamics of surface water and wetlands as well as their quality is of critical importance.

In 2016, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the EO4SD Water project , one of nine projects under the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) umbrella, to demonstrate modern EO capabilities and ready solutions to IFIs and Client States. Each of these EO4SD projects was focussed on providing solutions around a particular thematic area and user community. One key finding of the EO4SD Water project was that these demonstrations often only addressed the latter stages of the development activities (i.e. approval, implementation, monitoring and evaluation), when earlier phases such as design, preparation and appraisal would equally benefit from access to accurate information on water resources. Also, it was found that users often desire more ownership of the information products and want to be empowered to create tailored information for their projects.

In 2019 ESA launched the EO4SD Lab project that aims to address the complete SD project lifecycle by demonstrating the contribution of satellite EO and new ICT in the sector of Development Aid through a dedicated EO processing environment (Lab). The Lab is accessible to ODA and IFI pilots and provides them with access to information, data, and processing services that are at their disposal to produce, manage, share and interpret their own information products. The service portfolio ranges from basic applications to generate true and false color imagery, and common indices to state-of-the-art, processing intensive image and time series classification algorithms for water and wetland detection and mapping. Several EO4SD pilot projects currently use this functionality to create, among other datasets, complete wetland inventories and water body monitoring datasets with full end user ownership. The pilot feedback drives the continuous development of the Lab to develop it with a strong focus on the user perspective. GeoVille recently presented an update of the EO4SD Lab project at the EO4Water conference, that took place virtually in mid-November 2020. The presentation reported on initial findings and lessons learned from this novel approach to provide the ODA Community with a comprehensive processing environment to generate tailored water and wetland information products from EO data. It demonstrated two pilot use cases supported through the Lab, addressing monitoring needs for dry valley revegetation projects and the mapping of wetlands in the Lake Victoria basin.

EO4SD water products

EO WikiThe EO Wiki contains some examples of these generated products:

  • Maps of the Lake Victoria Basin showing Basic Landcover are available here.
  • Maps of the Lake Kariba, between Zambia and Zimbabwe showing Water Extent and Frequency, are available here.