About GMEs and Data: Geese and Golden Eggs

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Authors: Geoff Sawyer
Marc de Vries

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Programme, with consequent investment by the European Union (EU) and Member States of the European Space Agency (ESA), holds the potential to deliver significant economic benefits to Europe’s fledgling Earth Observation (EO) services industry and societal benefits to all European citizens. However, differing views of Member States as to the funding approach not only puts significant pressures on the overall budget, it also impacts the data policy and associated business model to be adopted: should governments seek to recover costs of production and processing of EO data by charging re-users, yielding direct returns, or should these costs be covered from the general budget, seeking longer term benefits. Put differently, GMES may well be Europe’s goose capable of laying golden eggs. But how can we ensure a steady sustainable business model: do we take one egg (direct returns from sales of data) or do we allow the egg to hatch, hoping more golden-egg-laying geese will follow?