Companies whose business comes from observing the Earth are having the focus turned on them instead. ESA has begun an innovative industry-wide survey of European and Canadian companies selling products and services based on Earth Observation data.
The aim is to examine and characterise the wide range of value-added Earth Observation (EO) services currently on offer, and give firms the chance to express their views on the best ways to help expand the industry in future.
"ESA has fostered thriving European aerospace industries in both the satellite and launch sectors," said Steve Coulson of ESA's Earth Observation Market Development (EOMD) Programme. "Now we want to do the same for EO services – build a healthy industry to compete on the world market."
Vega Group PLC and Booz Allen Hamilton are leading the survey on behalf of ESA, interacting with EO companies across Europe and Canada. Information is being sought on what services individual firms are marketing - now and planned for the near future - as well as the working practices and financial health of the industry as a whole. Inputs are also being sought as to what practical steps ESA can take to help the EO value-adding sector grow and prosper.
Over 33 leading firms have already completed the survey, with another 40 companies committed to doing so by the end of September. Participants include all of the EO industry leaders including Rapideye (DE), SPOT Image (FR), Radarsat International (Ca), Atlantis Scientific (Ca), Eurosense (BE), Nigel Press Associates (UK), ARGOSS, (NL), GAF (DE) and Space Imaging Eurasia. (Turkey).
"We found the survey itself well structured, well explained and the on-line format easy to use" according to Peter Volk of Munich-based GAF. "We had the impression that the people who wrote the questionnaire understood the complexity of the EO services on offer and the market they are playing into."
"Participating in the survey afforded me some time to think about my own business," said Patrick McConnell, President of Canada-based Atlantis Scientific Inc. "And from an industry point of view, it will be most valuable to have an accurate depiction of the industry now and where we are going – this report should provide some key insights into our strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies."
The survey – sponsored by ESA's EOMD Programme - started in June culminating with a series of on-site interviews with selected companies in September. Preliminary survey results will be presented at a workshop hosted by ESA on 5 and 6 November 2003, to which all participants will be invited.
"Information gleaned from both the survey and the in-depth interviews will be kept confidential," explained Frederick W. Knops of Booz Allen Hamilton. "The final report to ESA and the public release of the study's findings will be available only in aggregated form applied to the state of the entire industry.
"Any company interested in the future of the EO value adding industry should participate in this survey" Knops continued, "as well as providing a broad perspective of the EO value adding industry in Europe today the results of this survey can be used to bring many benefits to all Industry players."
If you want register your views with ESA, or simply for more information on the survey please visit the survey website at http://eomd.vega.co.uk/home.act. More information on the ESA EOMD programme is available at http://www.eomd.esa.int.