Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Defra Earth Observation Centre of Excellence

SSGP’s collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) builds on a history of Defra exploring the opportunities that Earth Observation satellites create, particularly with regards to environmental monitoring and compliance checking and boosting productivity. In addition to this, Defra is the UK policy lead in Copernicus and GEO (Group on Earth Observations).

Roadmap Development

Close collaboration between SSGP and Defra has seen the publication of a “Roadmap for the use of Earth Observation in Defra and the wider family 2015-2020”. The roadmap has helped Defra to identify and realise the unique potential of Earth observation (EO) data for the UK economy over the next five years.

The roadmap focusses on the following objectives for Earth Observation:

  • A cleaner, healthier environment which benefits people and the economy
  • A world-leading food and farming industry
  • A thriving rural economy, contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing
  • A nation protected against natural threats and hazards, with strong response and recovery capabilities
  • Excellent delivery, on time and to budget and with outstanding value for money

EO Centre of Excellence

SSGP supported the launch of the primary delivery mechanism of the roadmap – Defra EO Centre of Excellence (EO CoE). This is a virtual centre that brings together expertise from across science and delivery bodies.

The first flagship project for the EO CoE is the Earth Observation Data Integration Pilot (EODIP). It is focused on land management and the main applications include: rural payments checking, water quality monitoring, assessing habitat condition, forest monitoring and monitoring of extensive upland protected sites.

The EO CoE will translate this approach into other priority areas such as air quality, aquaculture, plant health and marine.

A significant stimulant for the new EO focus is the increased availability of EO data from Copernicus – one of the European Union’s space flagship programmes, with €3.8bn of investment from 2014-2020. As the UK policy lead on Copernicus, Defra will be strongly driving UK businesses to create innovative products and services to address the UK’s policy and operational needs.

SSGP Projects related to Defra activities




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