Keynote Speaking at the 9th Irish Earth Observation Symposium

Entrance to the venue for the 9th Irish Earth Observation Symposium

Entrance to the venue for the 9th Irish Earth Observation Symposium, Galway

I spent last week with the 9th Irish Earth Observation Symposium at the Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland in Galway, where I was delighted to be giving a keynote presentation.

The trip started with a novelty for me as I could fly from Exeter, rather than a London airport, which meant a short drive from home and a much smaller and calmer pre-flight environment.

Arriving the day before the symposium began, I had an opportunity to walk around the engaging city of Galway. This is something I often do before presentation, as it allows me to bring a sense of place to my talks and influences the overall emphasis I give.

The symposium began on damp autumnal morning, where the Atlantic drizzle gave a salty tang to the air. We began with a welcome from Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute, followed by agriculture and forestry talks focusing on classifying small management units within managed forests, identifying high natural value farmland and large forest resource assessments. This session reminded me of the importance of finding the right data source and technique for the specific task, as assessments based on individual pixels are very different to those based on collections of objects.

After coffee, I gave my keynote focusing on growth and opportunities within the European space industry. The Copernicus missions are presenting a once in a generation opportunity for remote sensing and Earth observation companies, and I talked about how SME’s, like Pixalytics, can take advantage of this through the development of products and services. It was great to give have a longer presentation, which allows more thought development than the more usual 15 minute conference presentations. It seemed to go down well, judging by the number of people who came up to talk to me throughout the rest of the symposium.

There were talks before lunch on econometric approaches for analysing time-series data, deep scattering layers in the ocean and monitoring land cover at a national scale. After lunch the second keynote, by Martin Gade from the University of Hamburg, gave an in-depth introduction to the use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for coastal applications including mapping intertidal areas for shellfish and the underlying archaeology. The rest of the afternoon focused on multi-sensor airborne data acquisition, passive gamma ray detection from low level flying within the Tellus programme, the application of neural networks, coastal time-series analysis and the coastal thematic exploitation platform funded by the European Space Agency. A very tasty and enjoyable Symposium Dinner rounded off the day.

The second morning was a much sunnier affair allowing Galway to show off its beautiful architectural and landscapes, and I took the photo at the top of the blog; which is the door of our venue. I was lucky to get a clear shot as the symposium coincided with graduation ceremonies and this was a very popular photographic backdrop! We began the day with air and climate talks including the use of ground and satellite based remote sensing to track pollution layers within the atmosphere. There was also a reminder of the importance of engaging with downstream users when developing services; staying focussed on customer needs is something we passionately believe in at Pixalytics.

After coffee we had marine presentations looking at improving hydrodynamic models through the assimilation of ground based radar data and the tracking of vessels using SAR and the Automatic Identification Systems (AIS). The day then concluded on landcover, focussing on getting the most out of the PROBA-V mission by creating 100m resolution products, mapping upland vegetation, and extracting non-seasonal changes from time-series. All three of these landcover talks gave me ideas to ponder.

I really enjoyed my two days in Galway, and was very grateful for an invitation to give one of the keynotes. I met a lot of new people and gained many insights to think about, all of which I will be following up. I hope to see more of Ireland in the future.