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ESA's Earth Observation Director to Unveil First GMES Master

(PresseBox) (Munich, ) This evening, the winners of the first European Earth Monitoring Competition, the GMES Masters, are to be announced in the Allerheiligen Hofkirche of the Munich Residenz. Having been kept well under wraps, the overall winner - DeforestAction EarthWatchers, an ambitious project about empowering world citizens in rainforest monitoring - will finally be revealed as the best GMES application idea of 2011.

The new GMES Masters competition, which was created in 2011 to foster creative product development and entrepreneurship in Europe based on the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) service domains, has proven to be a success in its very first year. Between 1 July and 15 September 2011, more than 100 proposals from 17 different countries were submitted in the GMES application domains (land, ocean, air quality, climate change, and emergency response). This active participation, especially from SMEs and start-up companies, shows how vigorously the international community in the field of value-added applications for Earth-monitoring data has already grown. The great number of proposed business cases and services indicates the huge commercial potential of the GMES initiative.

International experts selected the GMES Masters overall winner, whose identity was not released until tonight, from amongst the winners of four topic-specific challenges - the Ideas Challenge, the ESA App Challenge, the DLR Environmental Challenge, and the T-Systems Cloud Computing Challenge.

Prof Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency (ESA), presented the 2011 overall winner of the first GMES Masters competition. DeforestAction EarthWatchers is an innovative approach to rainforest conservation that was submitted by the Dutch geo-information company GEODAN. The rainforest monitoring project uses crowdsourcing - which involves millions of volunteers in analysing near real-time satellite imagery - to help stop illegal deforestation. The system links social media to enable cooperation and collaborative intelligence with advanced use of GMES land-monitoring data. It provides a new approach to education by involving students directly in the conservation effort and going beyond classroom lectures on deforestation. A crucial component deploys ground teams to confirm or disprove illegal deforestation suggested by EarthWatchers and engage local authorities to actually take action if necessary. "By linking its Earth monitoring services to crowdsourcing and collaborative intelligence, this new approach to environmental protection has plenty of potential to strengthen public awareness of both GMES and deforestation. DeforestAction makes use of GMES in an innovative way and involves the worlds' citizens directly in rainforest conservation," Prof Liebig declared.

Dr Josef Aschbacher, Head of ESA's GMES Space Office, awarded the ESA App Challenge prize to Thomas Heege and his team from the Oberpfaffenhofen (Germany) company EOMAP for the best use of GMES services on mobile phones. The user-friendly app AquaMap provides near real-time water quality information to both private users - scuba divers and other seaside tourists as well as fishermen for example - and professional offshore companies using GMES in-situ and satellite data.

Meanwhile, the expert panel of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) chose Will Aicken and Richard Seaby of the British Serco Ltd. as the winners of the DLR Environmental Challenge. Gunter Schreier, Deputy Director of the German Remote Sensing Data Center at DLR, presented the prize to the team for EOPPAD, a service that uses GMES and related satellite data sources to provide space borne monitoring capabilities. These functions assess environmental impacts associated with the discharge of cooling water from thermal power plants (TTPs) back into rivers, lakes and oceans, taking into account European regulations and the increasing effects of climate change.

The team around Scott Larsson of the Canada-based company UrtheCast was selected as the winner of the T-Systems Cloud Computing Challenge. UrtheCast is building the world's first continuous, high-definition video feed of planet Earth from space. The video will be streamed to users on the internet, television channels, and smartphones and shall be fully integrated with social media. Users will also be able to create their own apps and sell them via The prize was awarded by Jurry de la Mar, Head of International Sales, Public Sector at T-Systems.

Finally, the Satellite Rapid Response System (SRRS) submitted by Luca Mellano from the Italian company CHELYS was named the winner of the Best Service Challenge. An online audience selected the system, which makes satellite data available just two minutes after acquisition to facilitate quick responses in emergency situations, as the service most beneficial to European citizens.

For further information about the GMES Masters and a publication of all 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 Thursday, 20 October 2011 at