ESA selects themes for EO Thematic Exploitation Platforms
17 February 2014
In September 2013 ESA's Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes (D-EOP) opened a Request For Information (RFI) directed at collecting ideas for the implementation of Thematic Exploitation Platforms (TEPs) as part of the evolution of the Earth Observation Ground Segment (GS) operations concept.
TEPs correspond to virtual workspaces providing a user community interested in a common Earth Science Topic with very fast access to:
(ii) Computing resources
(iii) Processing software
(iv) General platform capabilities
The principal purpose of the RFI was to gather information regarding potential themes and corresponding activities to be used as input to the preparation of a formal ESA Invitation To Tender (ITT) aimed at the procurement of a limited number of TEPs to be implemented in the time frame 2014-2017.
The RFI call was closed end November 2013. Response was far beyond expectation, totalling 48 contributions in which Industry from all ESA Member States were represented. The resulting corpus of almost 1000 pages gave a rich view into European interest in activities intersecting big EO data exploitation, GS capabilities, and Information & Communication Technologies (ICT). An accurate analysis according to the criteria published in the RFI call  has allowed ESA to make an informed decision as to what themes to address in the upcoming ITT.
ESA intends to proceed with the procurement of 5 Thematic Exploitation Platforms addressing the following themes:
(ii) Forestry TEP
(iii) Hydrology TEP
(iv) Polar TEP
(v) Urban TEP
As anticipated, due to funding limitations only a limited number of themes could be retained for inclusion in the tender. The set of proposed themes and corresponding opportunities is however much larger, and ESA hopes to be able to widen and deepen the activities over the next few years.
Over the coming weeks ESA will finalise the related procurement documentation with the goal to publish the open Invitation to Tender in spring 2014.
A recurring request has been for ESA to broker contact among potential partners of similar or complementary interests, in view of the upcoming ITT. ESA is however bound by the commercial-in-confidence nature of the RFI responses. We therefore invite respondents to establish contact through a dedicated web forum on Earth Online, available at  https://earth.esa.int/web/guest/tep-forum. ESA is also considering organising a dedicated industry day in the first half of April.
Reference information regarding the TEPs RFI is available here:
 ESA EO Thematic Exploitation Platforms Community Forum, https://earth.esa.int/web/guest/tep-forum