GEO and Amazon Web Services Announce Cloud Grants to Improve Understanding of Our Planet

News / 10 June 2019

Today, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) announced the 21 projects from 17 developing countries that will be awarded $1.5 million USD worth of cloud services, grants and technical support through the Earth Observation Cloud Credits Programme.

Under the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), this programme will enable Earth observations and applications to support sustainable environmental development including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Last December, GEO and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the Earth Observation Cloud Credits Programme, a joint collaboration to offer GEO members and research organizations access to AWS Cloud services to help countries realize the potential of Earth observations for sustainable development.

Facilitating Access to Data for Development

National governments are exploring ways to better respond to environmental challenges, ranging from food insecurity and water resources management, to planning sustainable secure cities and manage the impacts of climate change. Earth observations, such as satellite imagery or data from environmental monitoring networks, offer a way for governments to measure, monitor, and manage their efforts.

However, access to and analysis of large volumes of Earth observation data is challenging for many of GEO’s members, particularly in developing countries where resources are limited and internet connectivity is poor or unreliable. To help address some of these challenges, the GEO-AWS Earth Observation Cloud Credits Programme offers developing countries access to complimentary cloud services to help with the hosting, processing and analysis of big data in the field of Earth observations.

Photo Credit: NASA
Photo Credit: NASA
Photo Credit: NASA
Photo Credit: NASA

Through this programme, GEO encouraged agencies and research organizations from GEO members categorized as Developing Countries by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to apply for cloud grants to support non-commercial projects. Agencies and organizations from a single country could apply for up to $60,000 of AWS Promotional Credits over a three-year period, while multinational projects could apply for up to $100,000 in AWS Promotional Credits over the same period. Submissions were accepted from December  2018 through April 2019.

Announcing the Successful Projects

Through this request for proposals, GEO has received and approved support for 21 projects (see complete list here) which will receive access to AWS Promotional Credits to offset the cost of developing cloud-based sustainability applications using Earth observations. Recipients of cloud credits through this initiative are also receiving support from the GEO community and AWS experts to refine and implement their projects for the best possible results.

Awardees span a broad range of applications from monitoring of wildfires, managing ground water resources, improving agricultural yield to mapping and monitoring of forested areas. All the awarded projects are contributing to activities of the GEO Work Programme, in particular GEO’s three engagement priorities: the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement for Climate and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They will leverage Earth observation data from open, free, and fully accessible sources and are encouraged to use the GEOSS Platform the Registry of Open Data on AWS. The GEO Secretariat is also facilitating access to analysis-ready data from the Copernicus and Landsat programmes for projects wishing to make use of this data.

Selection criteria considered  opportunities for co-design, co-production, and joint implementation with local stakeholders. Projects will demonstrate an intention to transition from research to practical application and show impact that is translatable to other contexts and the wider community. All data and software used and developed in the course of the selected projects, along with good practice, will be made fully accessible to the wider GEO community, in compliance with Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Data Sharing Principles.

GEO supports more than 100 UN Member States to advance access to open Earth observations. GEO offers all countries the opportunity to benefit from its community’s collective knowledge, expertise and skills to develop national Earth observations programmes. Through this collaboration, GEO is lowering barriers to entry for developing countries to use cloud services and extending its reach beyond its current members to additional countries.

This is one of the approaches that the GEO Secretariat has taken to work with the commercial sector, there is also now a membership category available for private sector organizations to become Associate Members of GEO. More information can be found here.


Awarded projects

Title Institution Country Using Sentinel Hub
Brazilian Earth Observation Data Cube using AWS for Land Use and Cover Change National Institute for Space Research (INPE) Brazil  
Fire Monitoring Service Tsinghua University/China China
A Global Modeling Tool for Nature’s Contributions to People in Sustainable Development Ministry of Environment and Energy Costa Rica  
Filtered Alert Hub Toolset Cairo University, Electronics and Electrical Communications Engineering Department Egypt  
Computing Groundwater Potential in Arid and Semi-arid parts of Ethiopia. Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy Ethiopia  
Capacity Building on Monitoring of SDGs Remote Sensing and Climate Center
Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute
Integrating Earth Observation Data with Censuses and Sample Surveys
to Estimate Development Indicators for India
Indian Institute for Human Settlements India  
AWS4AgriSAR-Crop inventory mapping from SAR data on cloud computing platform Centre of Studies in Resources Engineering (CSRE)
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Global Mobile Tsunami Warning System using Amazon Web Sever—A Life-Saving Platform Ikatan Ahli Tsunami Indonesia, Tsunami Research Foundation Indonesia  
agriBORA - Geodata for actionable farm intelligence Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization
EO For Sustainable Development National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI, Mexico) Mexico/Colombia
South Asian drought monitoring and outlook system to support agricultural advisory processes ICIMOD Nepal  
Operational monitoring system of ground deformations in Nigeria Department of Geoinformatics and Surveying, University of Nigeria Nigeria
Spatial Agricultural Intelligence African Regional Institute for Geospatial Information Science and Technology (AFRIGIST) Nigeria  
Implementation of a service of information to monitor the degradation of Zones Marino Coastal Ministry of Environment / Direction of Monitory and Evaluation of the Natural Resources of the Territory. Peru  
Automation of processes in the cloud, for the generation of mosaics of annual satellite images free of clouds, to contribute in the generation of information on changes in forest cover. National Program for the Conservation of Forests for the Mitigation of Climate Change of the Ministry of the Environment of Peru Peru  
Air Quality Forecasting for Africa Kigali Collaborative Research Center (KCRC) Rwanda  
AfriCultuReS Decision Support System (ADSS) Community Version South African National Space Agency South Africa  
Methodology for SDGs indicators assessment Space Research Institute NAS Ukraine and SSA Ukraine Ukraine  
Deep Learning for Satellite Monitoring of Illegal Amber Mining in Ukraine Kharkiv National University Ukraine
Monitoring Rice Paddy and Flood in the Lower Mekong Basin HCMC Space Technology Application Center Vietnam



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