Overall Winner of Copernicus Masters 2018 Announced

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Earth observation (EO) satellites produce tremendous amounts of data every day. The free and open EO data offered by the Copernicus programme is creating great opportunities to solve complex challenges, such as environmental crime. CybELE providing quick access to customised environmental crime reports for law firms and insurance companies, was awarded as the Overall Winner of the international ideas competition Copernicus Masters 2018 during its Awards Ceremony on 4 December in Marseille, France.

Marseille, 5 December 2018 – Environmental crime such as illegal construction, oil spills and illegal dumping is becoming a serious problem worldwide, with some of them being among the most profitable criminal activities in the world. The global cost of environmental criminality has been estimated to be between USD 91 and 258 billion in 2016.

The Copernicus Masters Overall Winner CybELE (Cyber Environmental Law Enforcement) creates and provides law firms and insurance companies with quick access to environmental crime reports that use Sentinel data. It took the top prize of the international competition dedicated to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation (EO) data.

CybELE aims to use satellite data to empower experts, especially in the private sector, with the management of their legal environmental cases. It provides quick access to reports of such crimes that are based on an analysis of satellite data from Sentinels-1, -2, -3 and -5 (depending on the case). These reports are created in a way to be presented in the frame of judicial proceedings like litigation or dispute settlement. They constitute a crucial evidential basis to prove infringement of environmental laws or assess the cost of environmental damages. This will alleviate the time and money consuming research required to support their legal cases. The reports will also further improve the legal predictability of environmental cases and strengthen the client’s environmental claims.

“Copernicus is Europe’s Route to the Future and it is the most ambitious Earth observation programme ever conceived. As Copernicus data is free and open for everyone, it really brings data to every single citizen in the world.” explained Dr Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, at the Awards Ceremony in Marseille. “CybELE, the Copernicus Masters Overall Winner 2018 demonstrates its potential by using data from all active Sentinels to optimise the management of legal environmental cases. With applications like this, it is clear that the Copernicus Masters drives innovative use of Earth observation data and makes the Copernicus programme accessible to new user groups.”

16 more Challenge winners were recognised during the Awards Ceremony by high-ranking industry and institutional representatives, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Airbus, Planet, BayWa AG, Astrosat Ltd., CGI, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd. and AZO Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, the organiser of the Copernicus Masters.

“Through the Copernicus Masters, we’re aiding visionary companies in bringing their innovations to market.”, explains Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of AZO. “We’re proud to witness a constant rise in the startups involved in commercialising Earth observation services, since the Copernicus Masters was initiated in 2011. Since then, almost 3,500 participants submitted more than 1,300 business cases, profiting from a prize pool valued at over EUR 4.3 million- and we are confident that the number will continue to grow!”.

EO in general and big data from the Copernicus Sentinels in particular hold huge potential for the creation of cutting-edge products and services. The Copernicus Masters is an international ideas competition with the objective to drive Copernicus User Uptake of EO data and thus respective business cases. Many industries and areas of public interest benefit from the progress of the Copernicus programme. The close cooperation with institutional, industrial and regional partners promotes the development of high-tech products and services for Europe on a global scale. Additionally, the Copernicus Accelerator programme – funded by the EC – ensures customised business development support for many Copernicus Masters finalists.

The Copernicus Masters 2018 Awards Ceremony took place in front of an international audience during the European Space Week 2018 in Marseille, France. Next year’s Copernicus Masters submission phase will start 1 April 2019.