Pandemic Context Increases Demand for Satellite Data Analysis
Adaptive Business Continuity and Intense Activity at SatCen in the Covid-19 Context
With all the restrictions on mobility and upon various ground-based activity, the Covid-19 context has proven, if anything, that Satellite analysis become even more valuable, sometimes critical and a service with increased demand.
The European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) continues to provide a full scope of geospatial intelligence analysis services also under the challenging COVID-19 conditions. Already from the initial warnings of the upcoming health crisis in February, the Centre developed contingency measures to protect its staff while ensuring business continuity in a prioritized and efficient manned. Based on its secured IT network combined with a well-prepared, tested and flexible telework effort, as well as essential business continuity presence on-site, the Centre has been able to continue its mission even under social distancing measures of the “State of Alert” in Spain.
Sensitive work executed at SatCen headquarters, by a core team on rotational shift, under strict hygiene and medical safety rules, is integrated with various tasks now performed from remote locations. Continuous contact with its key stakeholders and users has been provided through remote connectivity and video-conferencing.
The Centre has thus been able to ensure a high level of output for both classified and unclassified services, like support to the European External Action Service (EEAS) and other EU bodies and Agencies, such as the Commission’s Copernicus programme, or to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), as well as to EU operations like IRINI. In the context of the various mobility limitations imposed by the pandemic, SatCen’s geospatial intelligence support has been of unique value to EU operations and missions.
Support to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been ongoing, as well as SatCen’s activity in the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) framework.
The Centre’s structural resilience is primarily based on the Agency’s agility and adaptability supported by cutting edge technology infrastructure, as well as the outstanding work ethic, dedication and professionalism of its staff. These elements have shown to be crucial in upholding a high level of operational output throughout the crisis period.
Important lessons learned are drawn to inform the future development and adaptation of SatCen to respond to growing user demand and further enhance its role as a unique, autonomous geospatial analysis tool, in order to support the EU and its Member States and ultimately to be at the service of the European citizen.