QUIFER App Wins Double at First Virtual ESA Space App Camp

In its 9th year, the ESA Space App Camp was held online for the first time, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. From 11 to 21 September 2020, ESA invited 20 developers out of about 100 applications to attend this special edition of the event.

The Food Security team was announced this year’s winner and not only did they take home the top prize but also won the special agriculture challenge, in the honour of former ESA employee Luigi Fusco.

QUIFER App to Detect Illegal Water Extraction Activities

The Spanish winner team developed the QUIFER App (aQuifer sUrveillance by sentInel interFERometry), which in combination with Copernicus Sentinel-1A and B data and Artificial Intelligence techniques detects water extraction activities. This data can directly be used for the identification of illegal pumping activities and to map potential damages induced by subsidence phenomenon.

To meet the requirements of the special agriculture challenge, the team extended their QUIFER app by adding an automatic identification of agricultural areas where illegal activities of aquifer exploitation might be taking place on an annual timescale. This second app, QUIFERO (aQuifer sUrveillance by sentInel interferometry for crOps) is combining time series of Sentinel-2 images of the Copernicus program and Corine landcover map with big data and Artificial Intelligence.

The winning team received a EUR 2,500 cash prize, technical coaching from ESA’s Φ-lab on Artificial Intelligence for Earth observation, a one-week visit in 2021 to the Φ-lab at ESA’s Centre for Earth Observation in Italy including travel and accommodation, as well as a technical support package worth around EUR 3,500.

9th Edition of ESA Space App Camp has gone virtual

The goal of the ESA Space App Camp is to come up with innovative and off the beaten track ideas for apps using Earth-monitoring data – particularly from the European Copernicus programme – and make satellite information accessible to the everyday user through smartphones.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the App Camp was moved from its usual location in Frascati, Italy to the virtual space. Participants, mentors, organisers, and jury members safely collaborated from their homes with great success.

Participants were tasked with devising innovative apps and feasible business models in one of five categories: Food Security, Health, Tourism, Coastal Monitoring, Smart Green Cities as well as special category: Agriculture – in the honour of former ESA employee Luigi Fusco.

Each of the five teams had 11 days to create an app from one of the five categories and the possibility to tackle the agriculture challenge. All teams were encouraged to apply to one of ESA’s Business Incubation Centres, develop their ideas further and to submit them to the Copernicus Masters competition in 2021.

The virtual camp culminated with online presentations of the six projects to a jury, followed by an inspiring keynote by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano who detailed his journey of becoming an astronaut and the importance of observing our Earth from space. Finally, the winner was announced. It was a difficult decision for the jury as all teams delivered high quality ideas, prototypes and pitches.

The ESA Space App Camps bring programmers together to develop creative and innovative apps that make Earth observation data – particularly from Copernicus – accessible to a wide range of citizens. This unique event was initiated by ESA in 2012 and has since been organised by AZO Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen.

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