State Secretary Zuhal Demir sign agreement to facilitate the use of Earth observation data

On behalf of the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), State Secretary for Science Policy Zuhal Demir signed an agreement today with VITO (Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek) to guarantee the far-reaching exploitation of Earth observation data.

The past 20 years VITO has built up an international acknowledged expertise in Earth observation and satellite image processing. With this agreement State Secretary Zuhal Demir officially orders VITO to further process a series of Earth observation data and make them facilitate the access to all Belgian users including citizens, researchers, governments, public authorities and also industrial companies. They can use these data to obtain timely and objective information to create their own geographical information products.

The main goal of the agreement is to offer data from the Sentinel satellites of the Copernicus programme, the European Union’s Earth Observation programme  in an  easy way and free of charge. In a world full of environmental challenges such as climate change, global warming, food security, etc. Copernicus is set up to monitor our global environment and improve utilization of our Earth’s natural resources. Earth observation data obtain valuable information for agriculture monitoring, urban development, water and coastal management and many more.

The online tool “Hoe groen is mijn gemeente” is an example of how Sentinel data can be used in an application. The application contains a simple classification of your municipality based on recent images taken by the Sentinel-2 satellites.

Thanks to this agreement VITO can also continue the operation of the Belgian PROBA-V satellite. PROBA-V is successor of the SPOT-VEGETATION missions that have been monitoring our Earth’s vegetation every day since 1998 resulting in a unique data set. This data set of 21 years of data is crucial in various studies to determine the impact of climate change worldwide. 

“For me and my offices, it is important to ensure that our investments in space benefit not only industry and science, but also the citizens. This initiative contributes to this purpose and will bring satellite images within the reach of everyone." 

State Secretary for Science Policy Zuhal Demir


More information about the available Earth observation data, services and tools is available on the portal TERRASCOPE,

After the signing ceremony State Secretary Zuhal Demir also visited the EnergyVille buildings in Genk. EnergyVille is a collaboration between the Flemish research partners KU Leuven, VITO, IMEC and UHasselt in the field of sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems.

Earth observation also finds its way to energy applications , for example to calculate the solar potential of every rooftop in Flanders and determine the energy profile of buildings and neighborhoods. Via the online application ‘Zonnekaart’ everyone is able to see whether their rooftop is suited for solar panels and quickly calculate the return on investment.