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Remote sensing in development cooperation


Freely available satellite data from the European earth observation programme Copernicus or the US space agency NASA, growing data archives, cloud computing, free remote sensing software – the rapid developments in the past few years have enormously increased the potential of remote sensing for development cooperation. Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), open source and cloud computing are playing an increasingly important role.

Both the processing as well as the analysis of the huge amount of heterogeneous remote sensing data are representative of the future challenges of the digital society. Innovative ideas and concepts are required to process the data and convert it into meaningful information. If this can be successfully achieved, remote sensing data have the potential to solve various tasks in a wide range of different development cooperation applications more efficiently than before, which also makes it relevant for a number of different sectors.

The German development cooperation is already actively using remote sensing. The environment is extremely dynamic and the current applications extremely diverse: agriculture, forestry, bodies of water, crisis and risk management. However, the potential of remote sensing – for example, for implementing the Agenda 2030 or the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – has not yet been fully realised.

The “Remote sensing in development cooperation” page therefore gives you an initial overview of the principles of remote sensing, its potential, applications and specific recommendations for action.

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Sentinel-2 image shows wheat fields and other crops in Beauce (France). The different colours indicate different growth stages of the various crops. Remote sensing can be used to make statements about the type and condition of crops.
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In this image taken on 20 July 2019, the stripes, swirls and eddies of the late summer algal blooms are clearly visible. Without on-site measurements, it is difficult to distinguish the type of algae covering the sea, as many different types of algae grow in these waters. The highest concentrations of algal blooms are said to occur in the central Baltic Sea and around the island of Gotland, which can be seen in the picture on the left.
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Gain an initial overview of potential applications, inspirational projects and applications of remote sensing in the following topic areas: