BlackShore-creative's Crowdsourcing Platform Cerberus Wins GMES Masters 2012

Munich, (PresseBox) - For the second year running, the GMES Masters competition called upon entrants to submit their innovative products and business ideas for the European Earth observation programme GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). More than 100 entries from over 20 European countries were submitted to the ideas competition, which was initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), T-Systems, and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs with the support of the European Commission. These results affirmed the growing importance of Earth observation in nearly every area of public life, as well as in increasing growth and employment in Europe. The best of the submitted proposals involving the use of GMES were awarded prizes worth a total of EUR 335,000 on the evening of 25 October at the prestigious Munich Residenz in the presence of State Minister Dr Wolfgang Heubisch.

Among all the topics represented in the 2012 GMES Masters competition, one emerged as the clear trend: the crowdsourcing of complementary information for satellite-aided Earth observation data. Using this method makes sense in many areas of application - in disaster management, for example, where it can supplement Earth observation data as quickly as possible with current information (images, audio, video) gathered by anyone present on the scene. In its second year, the GMES Masters thus demonstrated its innovation potential in the development of new uses of GMES. "The aerospace sector is of special interest to the Free State of Bavaria, which seeks to support GMES by contributing its own particular strengths. In doing so, we are focusing on close collaboration between science and the economy - another aspect actively supported by the GMES Masters," stated Bavarian State Minister Dr Wolfgang Heubisch in his opening speech at the awards ceremony. Currently being developed as a European flagship programme through the joint cooperation of the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA), the GMES programme will enter into its operational phase in 2014.

This year's competition's prize pool - and participant access to satellite data in particular -expanded considerably to a total value of EUR 335,000. The GMES Masters was able to bring two additional industry partners on board in Astrium GEO-Information Services and European Space Imaging GmbH. The European Commission also contributed substantial satellite data packages worth EUR 100,000. Along with the prizes to be won, entrants had the chance to be accepted into an incubation programme at one of the ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs) in Europe, where they will receive financial and technical support in bringing their business ideas to market maturity.

"Just as in the ideas submitted in the competition, we're seeing growing interest in the commercialisation of GMES activities at the seven ESA BICs," reports Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, the organiser of the GMES Masters and manager of ESA BIC Bavaria. "Of the current 160 companies undergoing incubation, 30 start-ups work in the field of GMES - and the number is rising."

The winners of the GMES Masters 2012

An international panel of experts selected this year's overall winner - the GMES Master - from among all the winners of the competition's various challenges. Prof Dr Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency (ESA), announced the Dutch company BlackShore-creative and its project Cerberus as the 2012 GMES Master before presenting it with the corresponding EUR 20,000 prize.

"Cerberus represents an innovative approach to using GMES data that informs the public of possible applications of Earth monitoring information," Prof Dr Liebig stated. "In doing so, this crowdsourcing tool involves users directly and systematically in evaluating satellite data, such as in disaster management and environmental protection."

The e-learning platform is presented as a "serious game" in which participants can mark cracks in ice, damaged power cables, areas of drought, and other anomalies on the satellite images they receive. Following verification, user input is converted into digital maps that can then be employed by governments and other interest groups.

This project also came in first in the European Space Imaging High-Res Challenge. "In its novel approach to using very high resolution (VHR) satellite data, Cerberus reaches a broader user community. The platform uses crowdsourcing to reduce the time and costs involved in analysing satellite data in an entertaining way. This is exactly the type of innovative application idea we had expected from our participation in the GMES Masters; we're more than happy that our winner also was chosen as the overall winner," declared Adrian Zevenbergen, Managing Director of European Space Imaging GmbH, who awarded the prize for the European Space Imaging High-Res Challenge.

The Cerberus project is currently undergoing further development in the incubation programme at ESA BIC Noordwijk (the Netherlands).

The prize for the Ideas Challenge was presented by Dr Eduardo Dias - Research Coordinator at Geodan, the previous year's winner - to Daniele Di Erasmo and his team from Serco SpA. (Italy). The company was selected for MOSP-RIOS, an Earth observation service that enables comprehensive, cost-effective monitoring of oil spills and gas flares on offshore oil platforms using Sentinel-1 and -2 data. It thus supports cleaner, more sustainable drilling and compliance with international standards.

Dr Josef Aschbacher, Head of the GMES Space Office at ESA, awarded the ESA App Challenge prize to Dr Harald Skinnemoen and his team from the Norwegian company AnsuR Technologies AS. Their ASIGN app utilises crowdsourcing to support personnel deployed in disaster areas by encouraging users to take pictures of the current situation on the ground. These images then supplement satellite data, the details of which are sometimes partially obscured. ASIGN was already used to aid relief efforts with constantly updated local imagery during the 2011 floods in Thailand.

Dr Gerd Gruppe, Member of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), was presenting the prize for the DLR Environmental Challenge. Steve Lee from Stevenson Astrosat Ltd. (United Kingdom) accepted the honour for the ThermCERT project, which involves an instrument for compiling findings on buildings' thermal and CO2 efficiency. ThermCERT leverages satellite data to increase the accuracy and quality of thermal measurements, thereby optimising related investments.

Markus Lennartz, Vice President of the Segment EU/International at T-Systems International GmbH, conferred the prize for the T-Systems Cloud Computing Challenge to Dr Tim McCarthy and his team at iGeotec Technologies Ltd. (Ireland) for their project, WAMSAPs. The company has developed a cloud-based platform on which users can access a combination of satellite- and airborne Earth observation images in near real-time. Specially designed UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) equipped with cameras and various sensors can supplement the Earth observation data collected by satellites whenever it is unclear (due to cloud cover, for instance). This is seeing increasing use, for example, in monitoring major events or areas under environmental protection.

Dr Virginie Lafon and her team from the French technology transfer unit GEO-Transfert accepted the prize for the Astrium Radar Challenge for the project BALIST. The prize was awarded to the winners by Alexander Kaptein, Head of Future Programmes at Astrium GEO-Information Services. BALIST is a project that uses Sentinel-1 and -2 data to provide bathymetric mapping of coastal waters. Information on water depth is particularly important in ensuring the safety of nearshore shipping.

Finally, the prize in the Best Service Challenge was presented by Dr Reinhard Schulte-Braucks - Head of the GMES Bureau at the European Commission's DG Enterprise and Industry - to Francesco Bartoli of the Italian company Geobeyond Srl. The winning service, SnowMonit, is designed to improve information on avalanches based on remote sensing data. An online audience deemed Bartoli's entry the service most beneficial to the citizens of Europe.

For further information about the GMES Masters and a publication of all the results, please visit
For more information about the GMES programme, please visit and

Photographs of the Awards Ceremony and the winners will be available for free download starting at 5 a.m. on Friday, 26 October 2012 at

Discover more applications at the European Space Solutions Conference

European Space Solutions, a major three-day conference, exhibition, and business support event, will take place from 3 to 5 December 2012 in London. It will bring businesses and the public sector together with users and developers of space-based solutions to explore how space can make a real difference in the lives - and livelihoods - of people across Europe.

About the GMES Masters competition

GMES Masters began in 2011 as an annual competition that awards prizes for the best projects and business ideas involving commercial GMES applications. Its purpose is to support the development of market-oriented applications that use data from the European Union's GMES (Global Monitoring of Environment and Security) programme. Created by the European Space Agency (ESA); the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology; the German Aerospace Center (DLR); and T-Systems, this competition for Earth observation ideas also has the support of the European Commission, European Space Imaging GmbH, and Astrium GEO-Information Services in 2012.

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