The Copernicus Masters is an international competition that awards prizes to developers who leverage Earth observation data to solve important commercial and social problems. We issued a call for submissions to the Planet See Change, Change the World Challenge. This year, we’re in search of novel applications of Planet’s daily global imaging capabilities that will help solve climate and environmental challenges. After an evaluation by a panel of multidisciplinary experts, we joined the industry and institutional leaders at the European Space Week virtual Awards Ceremony of the Copernicus Masters to formally announce our winner, IMARA!
IMARA, which means stable, strong and robust in Swahili, is a Dutch startup that specializes in quantifying environmental impact through the art of storytelling to enable strong project planning, monitoring and reporting. By doing this, they aim to inspire, support, and accelerate action for robust and resilient landscapes. IMARA enriches ground truth data with remote sensing data to quantify and visualize environmental impact in order to boost projects working towards a more sustainable, biodiverse, and balanced world. The idea is aimed at the quantification of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators to objectively report on impact. IMARA believes visualizing efforts towards sustainability will inspire others to do the same.
The idea was born when co-founders Elise van Tilborg and Melissa de Raaij realized the amount of fieldwork data available at organizations was not being used to its full potential. This fieldwork data didn’t fit in classical monitoring and evaluation frameworks, due to their subjectivity and incompleteness. They had been working with classic monitoring and evaluation frameworks with general annual indicators and were surprised that mainstream monitoring didn’t use any remote sensing data. They believed the application of global satellite imagery would produce more complete and objective environmental information.
Partnering up with DIBcoop and FarmTree Services, they gained access to socioeconomic ground truth data, such as farm sizes, cultivated crops or trees and farmer income. By combining these datasets with remote sensing data from both Copernicus and Planet, a service was born. Leveraging this data to monitor impact has even more added value for further project development as multiple updates are being given throughout the year without having to visit the field. This has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current state of the world gave IMARA an unique opportunity to further promote the use of remote sensing data to objectively monitor and evaluate project progress. Organizations are not easily able to perform fieldwork to collect data in the field, but are still in need of a baseline for proper project planning. “It was amazing to virtually visit the field with clients and to take a look at the dynamics of the environment. Sometimes people didn’t even realise they would be able to ‘go back in time’ to see the dynamics over space, but also over time. This is something that would have added value, even after the pandemic measures are over,” said Elise van Tilborg.
Congratulations to IMARA and all of the Copernicus Masters 2020 Challenge winners! We’re thrilled to see what innovative concepts and solutions you all create. Follow @planetlabs and @IMARA.earth for more updates!