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Prestige Magazine took part in GEO Week 2020 which kicked off virtually from the 2nd of November. The GEO Week 2020 Virtual Industry Track was a highlight of this year’s event, boasting two days of networking, virtual talks, and ideation sessions with some of the world’s leaders in the Earth observations industry.

The GEO Week 2020 Virtual Industry Track was designed to enable access to markets, partners, resources, and insights, connecting the public and private sectors with the common goal of collaboration in Earth observation and its applications.

The event was facilitated by Africa’s Earth observation leaders including ZASpace, GEO, SANSA, and Space in Africa.

Each day began with a short introduction by Kamal Ramsingh, Chairperson of ZASpace, and three plenary talks by keynote speakers, all of whom are industry experts. Kamal Ramsingh opened day one by setting the stage, discussing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the opportunities it created, such as ?? And outlining the pillars of the event as “increasing synergy and productive collaboration”. He went on to say the theme for the two-day event was to enable access with a specific focus on Small Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs).

Prof. Gilberto Camara, GEO Secretariat Director then took up the virtual spotlight and discussed the data showing how SMMEs spend their time, and how this will interact with what he termed ‘a gold rush in EO technology’.

Mmboneni Muofhe, Deputy Director General of Technology Innovation at the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), South Africa and Co-chair of the GEO Executive Committee, then took the stage. He discussed the themes of collaboration and opportunity through the lens of COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks, food security, climate change, disasters, as well as the circular economy and renewable energy. For Muofhe, the road to addressing these
issues begins with infrastructure: “We need to make sure that we build the space infrastructure,” he said.

On day 2, Rebecca Moore, Director at Google Earth Engine spoke about the impact of freely available data and the space for collaboration it provides. Making years of geospatial data available free online enabled the world to see how our planet has changed over time, from natural phenomena, to our environmental footprint. She went on to highlight how freely available Earth observation data can aid our efforts to preserve and restore the planet. “There
is a gathering movement around partitioning the way we interact with the planet into three broad categories: to protect, to manage, and to restore, and each of these can be deeply informed by Earth observation data and insights derived from that data,” Moore explained. Her talk made the overall theme of the link between Earth observation and the greater good significantly clear.

Over and above the world-class suite of speakers, the Space-Tech Innovation Challenge brought another layer to the GEO Week 2020 Virtual Track, celebrating innovation, adventure, and talent needed to develop the infrastructure Muofhe mentioned. The 2020 finalists were Smartagriot, Field Dev, Green Aces, Abiri, Sturtium, Hydro Blu, and Upfarm.

The GEO Week 2020 was an enthralling 5 days offering up opportunities to keep up with the latest in the Earth observations industry news and to connect with others who share the view of geospatial technology and data as a means for public and corporate good. The GEO Secretariat, ZASpace, DSI, SANSA, and Space in Africa look forward to hosting the next instalment of non-stop innovation, discussion, and partnership.

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