The CSA is Looking to Develop a Digital Earth Canada Prototype

File photo: Space-based Earth Observation. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has posted a request for proposals for an Earth Observation (EO) Data Analytic System Prototype (Digital Earth Canada).

In its introduction for the RFP, the CSA states that “in the era of Big Data, a paradigm shift, is underway in the storage and analysis of Earth Observation (EO) data. Several nations countries have already invested in big data systems and tools to serve users beyond traditional EO sectors. These systems place massive EO data archives alongside high performance computing capacity and scientific analytics to allow their governmental, academia, and commercial sectors to monitor, assess and project the status and trends of a changing environment, and inform their science-based decision-making rapidly and comprehensively.”

“Digital Earth Canada (DEC) is proposed as a Canadian EO exploitation platform that embodies the principle of free, open, and accessible data. DEC will provide a powerful networked system to fuel innovation in EO data applications and address major challenges, such as climate change, environmental impact assessment, disease vector mapping, disaster risk mitigation, natural resource management, food security, and energy security, amongst others.”

While the RFP is posted from the CSA, other government departments are partners in the effort, notably Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Shares Services Canada.

By way of background, the RFP states:

“Canada’s use of EO satellites and resulting data has greatly increased over the last decade. Federal departments have started to implement systematic use of EO data, along with data and signals from other sensors, in the delivery of operational critical and public services across 12 federal departments. EO data obtained from public and private sources is also used by several sectors of Canadian industry and by the academic community.”

“The traditional approach of transferring data to the user and of data exploitation taking place on the user’s premises has become unproductive due to the increased latency and level of effort required to cope with the influx of data files received by numerous available EO sets. Complicating matters further, the approach has now become too cost prohibitive and unwieldy based on current IT infrastructure. The approach no longer allows to fully exploit the data for science-based decision-making as the volume of data has grown to petabytes with additional terabytes added every day.”

“Several countries have been working to resolve these challenges by deploying new, leading edge EO data infrastructure and technology. A paradigm for EO data is emerging with the following common characteristics:”

  • Storing and/or making multiple EO data sets accessible and discoverable.
  • Bringing users to the data/Applications to Data.
  • Increasing workflow effectiveness with the provision and access to analysis ready data (ARD), thus reducing the time and required EO expertise from access to research, analysis to product development and use.
  • Enabling the access to, and integration with, non-EO data on people, economy, and the environment to transform EO data into actionable information for use in public and commercial services.
  • Developing the foundations of national digital ecosystems to amplify capacity, engagement and collaboration between industry, academia, and government to ensure that the country makes the most of EO assets, supporting advanced research and enhancing industry competitiveness.

The problem of overwhelming data is not new, that the government is attempting to tackle this issue with a new platform, though a prototype for now, is welcome news. The RFP is open until September 26, 2023 at 14:00 EDT.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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