ESA and the software company SAP have announced the Earth Observation Analysis service for the quick, easy consumption of Earth observation satellite data according to customer needs.

Powered by SAP’s HANA cloud platform, the service aims to facilitate access to information acquired by Earth-observing satellites to a new field of business opportunities.

Reinsurance company Munich Re has been testing the service for gaining insights and predicting potential future impact from historic and current data.

“Every year, wildfires affect nature, people, their homes and businesses,” said Andreas Siebert, Head of Geospatial Solutions, Munich Re.

“While the progress of a fire itself is hard to predict, this new service, leveraging satellite data from ESA, allows us to accurately calculate costs and risks related to wildfires and even gain insights into the future probability of wildfires. This will help us to keep costs down for our clients.”

Government agencies and companies active in all industries, from insurance and reinsurance to mill products, mining, utilities and retail, can use the new service for their business needs.

Based on continuous access to historical and realtime satellite data from around the world, they can make improved decisions concerning industry-specific questions, such as where to place new power lines, where to build a new store or when to harvest crops.

“Our partnership with ESA paves the way to a new field of geospatial business applications, making it possible to close the gap between traditional Earth observation and a digitalised business world,” said Carsten Linz, Business Development Officer and Global Head, Center for Digital Leadership, SAP.

“That opens a bright future for space-related applications, such as digital farming, gas pipeline management, and the improved planning of smart cities – bringing businesses to a competitive edge, creating new high-tech jobs and improving peoples’ lives.”

The amount of data from ESA satellites – in particular the Sentinels for Europe’s Copernicus programme – is a challenge for traditional data processing and handling. Combining the power of SAP HANA with ESA’s accurate and timely Earth observation data meets this challenge.

“The European Sentinel satellites are the largest providers of Earth observation data worldwide. A major challenge is to convert this fantastic data into customer-specific information,” said Josef Aschbacher, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes.

“Large-scale hosted processing is the next step in order to meet this challenge, thereby bringing users to the data rather than data to the users.”

The Earth Observation Analysis service can be tested at no cost here until 31 December 2016. The service is planned to be available in the first quarter of 2017.

A set of related microservices, also powered by SAP HANA, will help entrepreneurs, partners, customers and businesses to augment and build highly flexible solutions based on Earth observation data from ESA in the future.

SAP and ESA intend to continue their collaboration in developing solutions and technologies based on SAP technology that leverages geospatial information.

The launch of the Earth Observation Analysis service was announced yesterday at SAP’s TechEd event in Barcelona, Spain.