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Published: 15 June 2020

The Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa) platform now has operational analysis-ready Earth observation (EO) data over Africa, using free and open images captured by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellites. This is our first ever continuously updated satellite data at the continental scale for Africa.

Sentinel-2 of the Betsiboka Estuary
A false-colour image from Sentinel-2 of the Betsiboka Estuary in Madagascar

We have optimised the availability and accessibility of the data by translating it into a format that makes it suitable for anyone to use. Images captured by Sentinel-2 satellites are available at a high resolution of ten metres and captured every five days. The data will be routinely updated into its analysis ready format, so anyone across Africa can use it to actively monitor changes to the environment and manage food and water resources.

Availability of this analysis-ready data is a result of international collaborations with Sinergise, Element 84, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS).

Opportunities for monitoring and response

Access to this data comes at an important time where EO is playing a key role in building systems to support the response and recovery of critical challenges such as the COVID-19 crisis. The ability to monitor changes that relate to people and the environment due to the impacts of these crises provides valuable insights to make informed decisions on the right actions to take and for future planning. 

By providing the data in a more accessible format, a larger range of non-specialist users will be able use its valuable information and insights. From simply identifying water resources for greater access to clean water through to the ability to regularly map food crops, the data will support a wide range of responses to COVID-19. The example below demonstrates the ability of Sentinel-2 data to monitor crop growth throughout the year. Farmers and scientists can use this information to study how crops respond to variations in farming practices and the climate to make better decisions around agricultural development.

Crop circle growth
Crop circles in Southern Egypt

 

Access the data in the DE Africa platform

DE Africa Map portal

Our DE Africa Map portal is a web-based tool for accessing datasets and data products. You can access the Sentinel-2 data from the data catalogue to explore and visualize areas across Africa.

To help you get started, watch our Introduction to the DE Africa Map video.

DE Africa sandbox environment

The DE Africa Sandbox operates through a JupyterLab environment and provides technical users with access to data and analysis tools to quickly explore new ideas and produce new information through the use and creation of Jupyter notebooks. Once a notebook has been developed to solve a problem in one location, it can be used to address the same issues in other areas. 

We’ve updated six notebooks to now use our Sentinel-2 data, where you can generate animations, imagery on a web map, image segmentation and contour extraction.

To learn more about the sandbox environment, watch our Introduction to the sandbox video.