THE Icon Group, Ireland’s leading earth observation and geoscience company, has secured a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop the Danube Environmental Risk Assessment Platform.
Icon will develop new space imaging technology to work in tandem with cloud-based applications to detect, monitor, analyse and characterise the sources of environmental problems across 20 EU Member States.
It will work in conjunction with the EU’s Copernicus programme, which is an Earth Observation satellite system coordinated and managed by the European Commission in partnership with the ESA, Member States and other agencies.
The Danube Environmental Risk Assessment Platform will benefit from Copernicus’s five cloud-based systems which allows users to discover, manipulate, process and download information related to changes in topography.
At an operational level, the service will identify industrial & transport waste discharge, agricultural run-off, and ecosystem degradation in near real-time.
The platform is expected to be used by port authorities, environmental groups, fishing and farming organisations, the UN as well as regional and national authorities.
Icon is leading the two-year project as part of a three-company consortium which includes TerraSigna (Romania) and Geoville (Austria).
Damien English TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, said: “I am delighted to hear of Icon Group’s latest achievement. Their participation in this consortium demonstrates the ability of Irish enterprise to work in coordination with States across Europe to address shared challenges and ambitions.
“Furthermore, supported by Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency and the European Union, securing this contract evidences the capability of Irish enterprise to seize the many emerging opportunities presented in the area of Earth Observation.
“The technology developed by Icon Group will assist policy makers and governments to better monitor and protect our environment, in addition to enabling the development of key skills for the economy of tomorrow, supporting sustainable enterprise and employment.”
The CEO of Icon, Tom McHugh, said: “Earth Observation tools are becoming increasingly important aspects of how we monitor the real impact of climate change and how we then plan our activity and economies to mitigate negative environmental consequences.
“The Danube Environmental Risk Assessment Platform will offer both Government and NGOs an invaluable tool that can act as an advance warning system for environmental catastrophe, ensuring better decision making that is taken in conjunction with other EU partners.
“The EU’s Copernicus programme is one of the most ambitious projects in space at the moment, and it really represents a huge opportunity for Irish tech companies seeking to showcase new technologies. We hope to continue our work with the ESA in the future, to develop new pioneering technologies that have a real impact on people’s lives.”
Conor Sheehan, European Space Programmes, Enterprise Ireland said: “Enterprise Ireland works closely with Irish companies to successfully bid for ESA contract development work and we would like to congratulate Icon Group on winning this prestigious contract. Developing a strong and sustainable internationally traded Earth Observations services sector, enabling us to effectively capture and analyse images of the earth to address global challenges including sustainable agriculture, decarbonisation, flood mitigation and search and rescue, amongst many others, is a key focus of the national Space Strategy for Enterprise.”
Icon Group has experienced considerable growth over the last several years, winning contracts with the Department of Agriculture and the ESA to monitor crops, hedgerows and track wildlife disease across Ireland and Europe.