Scientists benefit from mapping deal
A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the University and the sustainability software and data company Ecometrica.
University researchers will have access to state-of-the-art Earth observation, geospatial intelligence and satellite mapping applications in the new deal.
Researchers and students in the School of Geosciences will be the first to gain unlimited access to the suite of tools, which will be rolled out across the University.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalises the ongoing collaboration between Ecometrica and the University, which is expected to be worth around £4.5m to both parties over the next five years.
Ecometrica will make its Mapping suite – a web-based, universal, disruptive geographic information system (GIS) - available on a limitless basis to the University, so that it can be used for research and teaching purposes.
The Ecometrica Platform, which has emerged as a key tool in global efforts to understand and predict environmental impacts, collates vast amounts of satellite data.
It allows users to input their own information gathered on the ground to build and share detailed interactive maps illustrating complex and changing situations.
The Ecometrica Platform will go into immediate use at the School of Geosciences, which already works with Ecometrica on a number of ecological mapping projects. It will be rolled out to other University of Edinburgh Colleges and Schools looking to use spatial data platforms, along with tailored training.
The Ecometrica Platform will enable researchers in the School of GeoSciences to carry out sophisticated mapping of all kinds of geographical and environmental data. This will support our research and teaching in areas ranging from health geography to land use, forestry and sustainable agriculture. We are particularly excited about how the Platform will connect our science outputs to users outside of academia, through its open web based interface, and therefore increase our ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
An agreement signed earlier this year, involving NASA and the UK Space Agency, has already seen the Ecometrica Platform deployed at the School of Geosciences.
It will be used in a joint project with the Universities of Maryland and Leicester to explore the collaborative use of Lidar technology and Earth observation data assets, ahead of the launch of NASA's Lidar mission on the International Space Station.
The latest memorandum of understanding gives the University of Edinburgh a licence to obtain continuous use of the Ecometrica Platform's Mapping suite for teaching and research purposes across its three Colleges and 20 Schools.
In return, the University will incorporate the Ecometrica Platform into research applications in the geospatial area.
The deal will pave the way for collaborating on large scale research transactions.
This is a big commitment, which paves the way for undertaking larger collaborative research involving unprecedented amounts of data from satellites, such as the European Space Agency's Sentinel missions, and a range of Earth observation sources. The international reach of the University of Edinburgh will open up new and exciting research possibilities, and help to position the Ecometrica Platform as the world's de facto geospatial mapping software.
This is a winning collaboration for both parties. Providing unlimited use of the Ecometrica Platform to the School of Geosciences alone would have a major impact, but as we roll out to other Schools I expect we will find uses for the software in the humanities, and areas such as medicine and healthcare. Inclusion in a growing number of research bids, over the many fields in which the University of Edinburgh plays a leading role, will undoubtedly bring us many new funding streams and avenues for business.