Viruses are not visible to the naked eye, and less than ever a satellite in orbit in Space hundreds of kilometres from the ground can see them. However, there are important proxy indicators that satellites can help us calculate and that are very useful in modeling, monitoring, and responding to infectious disease epidemics.

Due to the spread of the Corona-virus epidemic, the European Commission wanted to dedicate a challenge of the Hackathon Copernicus to the creation of applications that exploit the information offered to Earth observation and the Copernicus programme to counteract the effects of the pandemic.

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This video shall be considered as source of information and inspiration on possible uses of satellite images, on how to see the pandemic effects through Earth observation.



With over 30 satellites in orbit, the European Union's Space programme offers free and licensed information and data user manuals that can help monitor and potentially mitigate the impact against the Corona-virus epidemic. This is true in particular through Copernicus, its Earth observation component, and Galileo, its satellite navigation system.


As an example, lock-down and closure of many industrial activities have an impact on the pollution of urban areas, that's on the levels of nitrogen dioxide present in the air we breathe, and which are measured by ESA's Sentinel 5p satellite. The consequences of stopping the movement of men and goods in communication infrastructures (ports, airports, roads, etc.) are visible from satellite. Even from the nocturnal images acquired by satellites for Earth observation, the effects of the lock-down on the light pollution of cities or on the volume reduction of road traffic in suburban areas can be seen.


Furthermore, with the Copernicus data it is possible to evaluate the indirect effects of the pandemic on agricultural production.


Taking up this challenge means being able to identify a business idea that, taking advantage of the information made available by Copernicus, helps to deal with the consequences of the Corona-virus crisis, both locally and on a national or global scale.

The proposed solution can be addressed to the containment, monitoring and contrast of the pandemic.

The winning idea must be based on the exploitation of the European Union's Space assets, such as Copernicus and Galileo, to counter the Corona-virus emergency. And it must be an idea that allows you to start a sustainable business initiative.


The goal of the hacking marathon is to arrive, at the end of the over 48 hours of work, with a demonstrable and quite functional application, which allows you to glimpse the potential and stimulate the imagination of the participants and the jury about its future business applications.


The tools to be used will be all those made available to the participants of the hackathon:

  • Planetek Italia will offer access to the services displayed by Rheticus®, its cloud-based earth monitoring platform.

  • During the hackathon, Creotech provides free access to CreoDIAS, the platform that provides a cloud-based one-stop shop for all Copernicus data and satellite images, as well as information on Copernicus services, while also offering access to efficient IT cloud resources, sophisticated processing tools and optional external data.

  • NewMap offers access to Virtual EO Lab, an extremely advanced and easy-to-use platform that allows you to perform a wide range of activities aimed at processing EO data in different sizes and models, mainly built on Hexagon Geospatial M.App Enterprise.

  • Hexagon Geospatial provides spatial modeling tools with raster, vector and point cloud operators to automatically process and analyze geospatial data. In particular, the M.App Enterprise platform provides information that can be used to create dynamic web and mobile applications, thanks to the ability to process massive quantities of geospatial data continuously acquired by the various satellite missions.

  • Sinergise offers access to Sentinel Hub, a cloud-based GIS platform for the distribution, management and analysis of satellite data.

  • AIRBUS Defense and Space provides satellite images, data and services via OneAtlas Sandbox platform. This platform is an open platform for creating new innovative services from Airbus' ultra-high-resolution satellite images, and contains very large image data sets, available for download or streaming.

  • RAMANI are APIs that offer streaming access to a library with +300 datasets, including satellite data from Copernicus Sentinels. The API framework allows developers to easily integrate maps and graphs in their apps in the form of PNG images or in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) for simplified interaction within applications.

In addition to preparing these and other ready-to-use services, information will be available on many other existing and available geographic data sources with open and free access - including the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service - which will certainly be useful for the creation of the more innovative applications.