to the fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, or
other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its
economy to function e.g. public and private physical assets such as
roads, bridges, railways, harbors, pipelines, airports, tunnels, etc. In
order to insure their proper functioning, infrastructures together with
their close neighborhood environment continuously need to be monitored
for changes such as physical damages caused by e.g. aging, weathering,
quakes, subsidence and flooding.
In this context, Earth Observation (EO) represents an opportunity for innovative research, applications and information services not only to support the planning of new infrastructure but also to support its continued monitoring.
Nowadays, we are entering into a new era for EO science and applications driven by the continuously increasing observation capacity offered by the EU Sentinel missions, the opportunities for science offered by the ESA Earth Explorer missions and the capabilities to look at the past offered by the existing long-term EO data archives.
Furthermore, a variety of national and commercial EO missions with unique capabilities especially in the domain of very high-resolution deliver highly valuable information on our urban environments and infrastructures.
At the same time, it is clear that for a complete exploitation of the EO Services necessary to satisfy the needs of the industry and public sector, dedicated development efforts are required.
The EO4INFRASTRUCTURE project gives exactly the opportunity to contribute to the reduction of the existing gaps in the infrastructure management sector by demonstrating that EO data, combined with in-situ data as well as other EO derived products e.g. the ones produced by the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service (CLMS), can provide a real benefit to End Users.
The EO4Infrastructure project is focused on railways.
This choice has several motivations here briefly reported. First of
all, railway infrastructures represent a strategic sector with a
significant economical relevance. The sector is also subject to specific
EU regulations, and this fosters the standardization of workflows and
best practice among the EU, easing the adoption of standardised EU
Copernicus core Services like the future European Ground Motion Service.
At the same time the railways End Users are already used to share
information and best practices in the many existing EU working groups.
The Copernicus Land Monitoring Service CLMS already makes available a set of EO derived products useful for the monitoring of the European infrastructures, and a new service, the European Ground Motion Service EGMS, is planned to be operational in the next years. The combined use of these assets can greatly improve the quantity and quality of information available to the European infrastructure monitoring systems.
The objective of the EO4Infrastructure project is to demonstrate that the Copernicus Services, combined with other EO derived products and in-situ data, provide a real benefit to the End Users community.
To assure the achievement of such objective, the EO4Infrastructure study-logic follows a fully User-Requirement driven approach, summarized in the following phases:
The End Users engagement assures a real and complete knowledge of the information needs of the operational infrastructure monitoring systems. For this reason, user requirements consolidation and requirements baseline definition activities represent a crucial task of the EO4Infrastructure Project. To this respect the Requirement Review Workshop (RRW) is the key event to present the User Requirement assessment and to understand if the Project has been able to understand the effective user needs and consolidate the requirements in a robust and shared structure to be used for the definition of the requirement baseline.
The subsequent activities, focused on the definition of the Technical Specifications, will further analyze and detail the requirement baseline. This activity has to provide the Agency and the End User with a clear and unambiguous technical description of all the EO products and systems at the detail level necessary to the End User to evaluate not only the Technical Specifications, but also the System and Products Validation Plan that will be adopted for the validation performed in the second phase of the Project. In fact, only assuring this high level of clearness, the End Users will approve the Plan giving their green light for the second project phase.
The strong engagement of the
users will not be limited to the requirements collection. They will play a
crucial role also in Validation and Demonstration phases. During the Validation
phase, users will be asked to operate the monitoring system, analyse the
products and verify the integration of the whole solution within the internal
systems and operational workflows. The Validation phase is therefore critical
for the success of the whole project: if the requirements have been correctly
implemented, at the end of this phase the user should be well convinced about
the benefits that Copernicus Services and EO services in general could bring to
The following Demonstration phase will be a rehearsal of an operational implementation of the solution within end users’ systems. It will consist in six months, during which the user will have access to the system and to the additional services that the system will be able to provide, always supported by the EO service providers for the analysis of the data and the identification of anomalies. As in an operational situation, in case of the detection of anomalies the user will have the possibility to activate additional services in order to respond to critical situation may occur.
The end of the Demonstration phase will be the time to draw conclusions, analysing results, lessons learnt and gaps still to be filled for a complete adoption of the proposed portfolio and system. The output of this analysis will be a set of recommendation and actions to be implemented by the different stakeholders: the EO service providers, e.g. in terms of improving tools or quality of products, the users, in terms of adapting procedures or reviewing ITC security regulations, the Agency and in general data providers, given that specific requirements about data availability may emerge during the projects.