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Centurion Research Project: Making Better Use of Space Data

In 2019, Professor Peter Baumann received the DIN Innovation Prize for his work with data cubes, which is awarded by DIN German Institute for Standardization, or the "Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V." (Source: Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.)


March 9, 2022
Whether it's changes in the climate, land use or the marine environment, the European Earth Observation Program "Copernicus" delivers a vast amount of data every day with its satellites. The "Centurion" research project, which is funded by the European Union, will use specific big data technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) methods to make the findings more usable and develop new applications. On the German side, Peter Baumann, Professor of Computer Science at Jacobs University Bremen, is significantly involved in the research and development of the project.

Baumann has long been involved with the better and simpler use of geodata. The computer scientist has developed data cubes, which can be used to summarize and sort millions of individual images along space and time. Data cubes are now widely accepted as a method that makes spatio-temporal geospatial data easy and quick to analyze, without the need for highly specialized programming skills. A number of standards in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) for simple, fast analysis of data cubes originate from Baumann. He is also heavily involved in INSPIRE, the European framework for a unified spatial data infrastructure. Users can thus access petabyte-sized spatiotemporal data from their workstations. One petabyte is equivalent to 1,024 terabytes. Until now, their analysis was deemed for experts with a high level of IT expertise.

In addition, the process allows data from different sources to be freely combined, which was previously only possible with a great deal of effort. "This enables many new applications, such as better monitoring of disaster situations, harvests can be planned more easily, and water supplies can be monitored more intensively," says Baumann, who was awarded the DIN Innovation Prize in 2019 for his work.

In Centurion, data cubes are combined with AI methods and put to practical use: Based on satellite data from the European Earth observation program Copernicus, Centurion implements five different application areas, such as agricultural weather indices. They are used to evaluate extreme weather conditions such as drought or soil erosion in terms of their impact on crop yields. Another application area aims to improve the monitoring of shipping traffic on the world's oceans, among other things to detect illegal fishing. Solutions like these are only exemplary; the technologies should also be applicable to other areas and actively marketed.

The interdisciplinary project with titled "Copernicus Datacube / AI Datacube Services for Society, Industry and New Markets" will run for three years. Ten partners from seven European countries - Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Germany - have been working on the project since May 2021. The European Union is funding the project as part of its Horizon 2020 Program with a total of 4.1 million euros; of this sum, Jacobs University will receive approximately 345,000 euros.
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