"However much satellite data we collect, it is meaningless if it is only known to certain people" - this is a comment made by a number of high-level government officials in Europe. Three years have already passed since the satellite Earth Observation programme "Copernicus", one of the two EU flagship space programmes, started its operation, but it still isn't known to some universities or public authorities yet.
The EU aim to create new industries by utilizing the Earth Observation (EO) data, but such data can only be utilized if there are users or clients. Even though there is open and free data available to use, if it isn't known, and if any advantages or impact through the utilization of such data aren't known, use will be limited to certain experts and engineers, and thus, it wouldn't lead to any effect on industry or any new business.
In order to realize "digital society based on data", the concept of the EU, it is extremely important to eradicate the perception that "space is difficult/has a significant barrier" and to spread the use of the EO data of Copernicus among academic, business, and governmental communities. In other words, it is widely recognized activities to promote utilization are the most important factors.
The EC, the executive arm of the EU, started the "Copernicus User Uptake Programme" last year, a programme to promote the use of Copernicus after some discussion with several consulting firms and public organizations.
Copernicus User Uptake Programme mainly consists of two programmes.
1. Copernicus Relay Network
Companies, universities, and public authorities function as helpdesks called Copernicus Relays and conduct promotional activities for the general public in their respective areas. Their tasks vary from handling inquiries from the general public, to promotion through distribution of newsletters and social media, including setting up and staffing a stand at events.
2. Copernicus Academy
On the other hand, Copernicus Academy is more of a promotional tool for researchers - the central part of this programme is that research institutions and universities in the EU nations provide technical lectures and training sessions for other universities and research institutions in their respective areas.
Last November, about 150 organizations were appointed as members of the Copernicus Relays Network and/or Copernicus Academy, and they started their activities in January 2017.
Japan Space Systems together with the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation were appointed as "Copernicus Relay Japan" by the EC, and began their activities in April 2017. This is a brilliant first achievement in Asia suggesting high expectations of the EC towards Japan. It is expected that an understanding of the need to promote EO data utilization as well as the relationship between Japan and Europe are strengthened through this.
The organizations above cooperate as Copernicus Relay Japan and they are already running activities of the helpdesk for Copernicus and promotion of this programme in Japan. There is a shared email address for inquiries, so if you have any questions or need consultation, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org