ConnectEO 4th interview: Eva Rodriguez (FrontierSI)

Don’t miss the fourth ConnectEO interview with Eva Rodriguez, from FrontierSI, a not-for-profit company that delivers major benefits to governments, industry and the community in Australia and New Zealand, using expertise in spatial mapping, infrastructures, positioning, geodesy, analytics and standards.

One of the main focus of FrontierSI is space applications and particularly earth observation, which are two important topics for the ConnectEO project and its SMEs.

What is the use of earth observation in Australia (actors, ambition, etc)?

Australia is in a privileged condition as the country is located in the Southern hemisphere, is the sixth largest country and has a very diverse environment (cropping, forestry, coastal areas, close to the Antarctic). The country is very keen on using earth observation to address problematics linked to these aspects.

Australia uses earth observation from satellites to develop earth observation applications but also to work on calibration and earth observation missions along with ESA and NASA.

In 2018, Australia got its first national space agency that has motivated and grown the activities in space and earth observation as a priority area for investment. A roadmap of activities is being developed in the country to develop these aspects.

The country has a lot of expertise and actors involved in this sector, especially governments and universities.

Regarding collaboration with the industry, there is a lot going on on application markets, connecting current users and prospective users and the opportunities it can bring.

What are the most promising sectors that can benefit from earth observation application?

Many sectors are of interest. FrontierSI just released a series of reports that capture problematics from Australian end-users in agriculture and mining.

Finance and insurance sectors are promising ones: a key area regarding risk management and sustainability reporting, how they can benefit from earth observation. Earth observation can also play a great role in climate change and the challenges that we got globally.

Nationally, Australia has some challenges due to the geography (bush fire management is a key one), water monitoring and quality, finances/assurances.

Is there a demand in Australia for the European imageries (Copernicus for example)?

Definitely, the demand is indeed growing. Copernicus data is one of the services Australian use. For instance, regarding the satellites and the data provision, Sentinel2 is used for forest mapping, to work on the bush fire problematics.

In terms of accessing the data, industries and researchers in Australia are heavy consumers, through the Digital Australia program.

Do you see this Copernicus tool as a possible door opener for creating partnerships between Australia and European SMEs?

The access of data is at a starting point. When it comes to financing and partnerships between the two areas, there have been limitations in the past that seem to improve.

Australian governments are working to attract talents and space companies in the country, and this could be a good avenue for the project and its SMEs. There should be more opportunities and mechanisms in a near future.

Can you tell us some financing mechanisms that are available in Australia to partner with European SMEs?

At the moment, it is mainly incentives for Australian companies to develop their own business.

ConnectEO can be a great seed to discover what is existing, to consolidate that and do the groundwork, creating an initial pathway.

Do you see the sectors of agriculture and maritime growing in using earth observation applications?

Agriculture is a key sector for the country, it has a lot of companies in this sector that are willing to expand and improve their activities.

Regarding maritime and the use of SAR, it is still growing and especially in maritime monitoring applications (vessels identifications mostly), but it hasn’t been adopted broadly.

There is definitely potential to grow there.

Do not miss the entire interview below!