The European Commission has recently conducted a series of user workshops to define initial Europe-wide pilot services within the GMES (Global monitoring for Environment and Security) initiative. The three events on Land, Marine and Crisis/Emergency services attracted a well represented user European community, underlining the will to have a first set of services operational by 2008, as requested by the Council of the Member States.
The discussions focused on three key issues:
Participants emphasised the necessity that the interactions between the users and the providers must be better articulated in order to meet users' needs. In that perspective, they welcomed the initiative taken by the Commission in organizing this series of workshops. Participants also recalled that the use of GMES products may differ from one country to another but cooperative undertaking at European level should focus on the reliability of delivery and efficient information dissemination.
The participants of the workshop agreed that the issues of the political ownership and funding scheme of GMES have still to be addressed. They insisted on the necessity of a strong financial public commitment and proposed a GMES management structure integrating European, national and local levels.
Environment, resources and investment management, city planning or car navigation will benefit from the Land service. Requirements include an increase in the level of detail and accuracy, open access to data as well as the updating speed. Users agreed that core land cover data should be available maximum one year after satellite data acquisition. Updates should be done every three to five years for continental coverage, more frequently for urban areas. Furthermore, a group of 500 functional urban areas have been identified and will benefit of a more precise mapping. Participants stressed that coordination of satellite data is required with in-situ land cover/land use inventory initiatives.
The Marine Core Service will deliver systematic reference information on the state of the global ocean and EU seas by providing observational and model data, real-time predictions and ocean scenario simulations. Several R&D projects have developed Marine Core Service components which are ready to go operational in 2008, an effort consistent with the "fast track" approach. Foreseen to be an initial European contribution to GEOSS, the Martine Core Service should strengthen the connection with downstream services such as marine safety, oil spill monitoring or costal management. The need to integrate and upgrade the capabilities of existing national services has also been evoked.
The contributions to the workshop on the Crisis/Emergency service show an agreement on the need to focus on the "rapid response" part of the crisis cycle. However the rapid response cannot be decoupled from preparedness, prevention, risk reduction and early warning. At European level a wide range of risks will be addressed such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, vegetation fires or accidents associated with transport. The fast delivery of reference and damage maps of the crisis area has been identified as a key requirement for the Information Service in Responses to Crises, Disasters and Emergencies (INSCRIT). There was a strong demand from the Civil Protection sector for GMES products since INSCRIT can strengthen civil protection capacity through best use of new technologies. At world level, GMES INSCRIT can significantly contribute to the delivery of EU assistance in case of crises and emergencies.
As underlined by the participants, GMES shall become a single point for resourcing, planning and decision making on developing the European capacity to better respond to Land, Marine and Crisis/Emergency information needs.