NASA searches for the most imaginative applications in Helsinki – satellite data to be harnessed to aid sustainable development
With satellite data, NASA Europa Challenge finalists predict wildfires and enable people with allergies to analyse pollen dispersion.
The competing applications utilise NASA's World Wind. It is an open access code programme interface on whose basis it is possible, for instance, to create 3D visualisations of terrain and cities, predict weather phenomena, and monitor traffic. Photo: NASA
The NASA Europa Challenge application competition, which is being held in Finland for the first time, has reached its final stretch. For the final, the judges selected eleven teams whose applications promote sustainable development and improve the quality of life with the help of the NASA World Wind platform and open satellite data. The goal of the competition is to harness satellite data to promote sustainable development on Earth.
The teams competing in the final have developed applications for monitoring the weather and environmental conditions, for example. AWARE Algo Wildfire Analysis & pREdiction (team from the United Kingdom) enhances the prediction of wildfires, Smart Pollen Monitor (Germany) helps people with allergies to avoid the allergic pollen, World Weather (Jordan and Finland) presents weather data in 4D form, and Agro Sphere (USA) visualises the effects of climate change.
Other applications in the final aim to develop agriculture and the sustainable use of natural resources. Satellio Berry Monitor (Finland) helps to find and share good places for picking berries and mushrooms, Farmate (Finland) optimises the irrigation of fields, and Drone Trek (Finland) utilises drone technology in monitoring the quality of water.
Some applications function in the urban areas. 3D Open Street Map (Italy) develops three-dimensional city maps, Festapp (Finland) makes it easier to find interesting events, and Perfekt City (Finland) shows historical data of how a city has developed, and gives also an estimation of how it might develop in the future. In addition to these, MuViAS: Multi Dimension Viz & Analysis Suite (Italy) enables the visualisation of multi-dimensional documents.
’This year, we have new, interesting ideas (competing) in the competition. I’m sure, several of these applications will become successful in the future,’ says Jaan Praks, Assistant Professor in space technology at Aalto University, (who is) and a member of the panel of judges.
‘The amount of satellite data is growing all the time and the possibilities for using it are almost without limit. There is also plenty of open material for everyone in the data produced by the satellites. Also in this competition, the applications were open code, so they can later be utilised freely,’ says Jaan Praks.
Winner to be announced August 31
The judges, comprising Finnish and international experts in the fields of space, satellites, and climate, put special emphasis in their selection on the technical demands of the applications, as well as their implementation and function. In addition, they evaluate the applications' user interfaces, the website presenting the applications, and the pertinence of the ideas. The participants are the most international group in the history of the competition, which is being held for the fifth time. The 21 teams included representatives from countries including China, India, Spain, and the United States.
This year the NASA Europa Challenge aims at developing living conditions in metropolitan areas. Picking Finland as a venue for the competition was a suitable choice. The space boom has given rise to numerous start-ups in our country, and the European Space Agency ESA has chosen Finland as the new home of its space accelerator.
‘And Helsinki is known around the world as one of the best cities to live in,’ Jaan Praks observes.
The teams of finalists will be invited for mentoring at workshops that will be held at the Otaniemi Campus of Aalto University on 29-30 August. The winner of the competition will be announced on 31 August at an event to be held at the Nokia Executive Learning Center (Espoo) starting at 1:00 PM. The winners will be granted a prize of 6,000 euros. The award ceremony is open to everybody interested.
Professor Jaan Praks
P. 050 420 5847