ESRIN is constantly striving to ensure that the data supplied by Earth Observation satellites respond to users’ requirements. These are: fast accession to data, particularly in emergencies; knowing where to find data and how to access it; quality assurance; and data in a user-friendly format compatible with that from other sources.
The Centre is responsible for a number of high-level projects whose aim is to ensure that these requirements are met by ESA, as well as the other agencies that provide Earth Observation data. One top priority is ensuring that data can be accessed on line, as well as by the traditional distribution methods of CDs or DVDs.
Another important initiative will harmonise the ground segment for Earth Observation in Europe and simplify the procedures needed to access data. Common standards for all space missions will ensure interoperability and greatly benefit users.
Emerging technologies such as the GRID are also being used to improve services. The GRID integrates high speed connectivity, distributed processing resources and large volumes of data to provide science and industrial partners with improved access to end products. The 'Grid on Demand' Portal, which is run from ESRIN, offers access to, and support for, science-oriented Earth Observation GRID services and applications, including access to a number of global geophysical Envisat products.
Such initiatives are particularly important in the context of Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). This is a joint venture of ESA and the European Commission to establish an independent capability for global monitoring, in support of European environment and security goals. As a first step, ESA is supporting a suite of operational Earth Observation-based services. This five-year GMES programme is known as the GMES Services Element (GSE).