Findings of the National Reports on EO capacities in the Balkan area

Abstract

One of the most important deliverables of the OBSERVE FP7 Research Program is the presentation of the state of the art of Earth Observation (EO) Capacities in the Balkan area. In order to deliver such information, detailed National Thematic Reports on Earth Observation Capacities for most of the Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey) were generated by the OBSERVE’s participating institutes. In the first issue of the South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, all the above mentioned reports are published, giving an updated and overall situation on the use of EO activities in the Balkan area. The most important conclusions are summarized in the current article.

List of international organizations of OBSERVE Balkan countriesBBIntroduction

The start of the use of photogrammetry in map-making procedures is placed just before or after World War II. In some cases (like in FYROM and Slovenia), remote sensing satellite imagery was acquired to help the production of the modern base maps of the whole state.

Some of the Balkan countries share a common political and cartographic history because, until recently (like the former Yugoslavian Republics of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, FYROM, Slovenia, Montenegro and Serbia) or even in the past (era of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy), they were once part of a common country. There still exist small-scale maps and even large-scale and cadastral maps of those times.

Nowadays, there exist orthophoto maps of high resolution (0.2-0.5 meters) for the most of Balkan countries, which in some cases are free of charge and/or are freely distributed on the Internet. Aerial photographs have been used for the creation of these maps, since remote sensing imaging sensors could not provide until recently the appropriate ground resolution.

The participation or cooperation (Table 1) in EO related international organizations is indicative of the degree of EO penetration in the Balkan states.

Policies

The creation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) is a key activity for a systematic and effective management of all kinds of resources in the Balkan countries. Earth Observation data and applications are helping towards this aim.

In most cases, the Balkan countries have a long tradition and have established organizations and other public bodies to support NSDI. However, the approach to EO applications is not clearly defined and is mainly supported by the main mapping agencies (of military and civil nature). The INSPIRE Directive is guiding all participating countries (among them and the Balkan countries) to develop an NSDI using also EO data that will be compatible and usable in a community and transboundary context.

Although the Balkan countries share a common area on the globe, the used geodetic reference and cartographic projections systems are not the same. Only some of the former Yugoslavian republics share common geodetic reference systems and projections.

 Figure showing spatial information system developed to demonstrate the information collected by the individual National Reports.

Fig. 1: A spatial information system has been developed to demonstrate the information collected by the individual National Reports.



There is a trend lately to replace old reference systems with new ones that are yet not fully operational, since most of the cartographic inventory is still using the traditional reference systems (Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, etc). This is due to the fact that modern GPS technology is now used to establish the states’ geodetic reference systems.

Information-sharing policies in the Balkan countries consists of a fragmented network of public bodies and organizations that are either generating data and/or support services on spatial and EO Applications. The traditional map-making stakeholders have undertaken the role to drive the EO in the future and in most cases these are of military nature, functioning under the Ministries of Defense (or similar). During recent years, great effort has been attempted by the EU and the state governments to transfer the responsibility to regulate the distribution and maintenance of the local NSDI (among them also EO data) to civil public bodies.

In most of the Balkan countries, regulations and restrictions are in place for the production and distribution of spatial data of areas characterized by specific significance for the national defense.

There is not a global policy to use EO applications for environmental decision-making. Although in many countries, big steps to raise the awareness on environmental issues are attempted. EO applications can provide great help toward this approach, since they can:
• Provide base maps to support the design of infrastructure projects taking into account restrictions for the protection of the environment;
• Protect the environment by monitoring sensitive areas of great natural beauty and importance;
• Guide the state to develop financial growth using pollution-free or environmentally friendly strategies;
• Lead to development fostering the prevention of fires, mitigation of damages from earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Data – Applications

Processing capability of EO data has been raised extremely during recent years. The importance of satellite imagery and its respective EO applications and procedures has become quite evident, since free web applications using satellite imagery (Google Maps and Earth, Bing Maps, OpenMaps.Org, etc) are widespread. Public authorities and private organizations have introduced activities (seminars, lectures, conferences) to inform the specialists about new EO products and solutions. Additionally, a large number of higher education institutions are enhancing this capability. The overall capability of most of the public and private organizations in the Balkan area that deliver EO information is considered satisfactory.

EUropean POsitioning Determination Systems (EUPOS) or similar systems exist or are under development in most of the OBSERVE Balkan countries, most funded and supported by state governments. There are also cases of research and private positioning systems covering big parts or the whole national territory of a country.

Capacities

Survey results have shown that there is no common trend on the institutional and public awareness of benefits introduced by EO systems in the OBSERVE Balkan countries. In Croatia, there is still a long way for the society to realize the benefits of the EO systems, while in Bulgaria and Turkey there is no relevant information.

In the other countries, public authorities and private companies have increased their interest on the EO systems realizing benefits to society and common interests.

Concerning initiatives and participation to research programs, most funding is coming from EU through the participation in certain research programs. The positioning systems of most of the OBSERVE Balkan countries have been supported financially by EU. Additionally the official authorities on spatial data in the Balkan countries have participated in a number of research programs.

More detailed information on the public and private organizations able to deliver aerial and LIDAR services in the Balkan area can be found in the national thematic reports published in the first issue of the South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics.

References

Gjata G., Skuka Q., Allaraj S., Nurçe B., Xhialli A., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Albania. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 21-35.

Mulahusic A., Tuno N., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 37-43.

Penev P., Vatseva R., Naidenov N., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Bulgaria. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 45-56.

Oluić M., Špirić Z., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Croatia. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 57-72.

Gjorgjiev V., Gjorgjiev G., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in FYROM. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 73-79.

Georgiadis C., Tsioukas V., Kaimaris D., Karanikolas N., Stylianidis E., Patias P., Georgoula O., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Greece. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 81-110.

Gospavić Z., Gučević J., Maraš V., Milovanović B., Radmilović Z., Ćilerdžić A., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Serbia. South-Eastern Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 111-120.

Fras K. M., Domajnko M., Podobnikar T., Lisec A., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Slovenia. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 121-142.

Gucin, M., Altan, O., Külür, S., Toz, G., 2012, Earth Observation activities for the environment in Turkey. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 143-152.

Patias, P., Tsioukas, V., 2012, Status of Earth Observation activities for the environment in the Balkan area: Executive Summary, South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, Vol.1, No.1S: 3-19.

See also

OBSERVE Project Announces Competition

The Experience of the 1st OBSERVE CARAVAN Workshop

New Journal on South-Eastern European Earth Observation and Geomatics

A Post-GEO Plenary Workshop on Earth Observations for the Social Benefit of the Balkans

An Introduction to OBSERVE, Strengthening and development of Earth Observation activities for the environment in the Balkan area


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