After three successful live Eyes on Earth Roadshow events in Darmstadt, Rotterdam and Tallinn, the Covid-19 situation forced the last edition of the series on 2-3 June 2020 to be held online. A big challenge for the event organisers, but a great opportunity to reach more people from all over Europe, if not the world, than would be possible at a physical event. A concept that proved highly successful!
Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
On the occasion of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU during the first half of 2020, the Eyes on Earth Roadshow was held in close collaboration with the University of Zagreb and the Croatian Government. A great opportunity to showcase Earth observation scientists, companies and success stories from Croatia, in combination with the roadshow concept of introductions and workshops by European Copernicus data specialists.
Collaboration with EO4GEO Summit
The event was held in parallel with the EO4GEO Summit, an annual update on the progress of the EO4GEO project. This is a Europe-wide effort to create a joint Earth observation Body of Knowledge, defining terminology, as a basis for consistent education curricula and job description for the European GIS market.
Advantages of an online workshop
During the two-day online event, participants could select a wide variety of Earth observation talks, panels, workshops and business cases, with the aim to learn about the opportunities of space data, ways to get involved and of course networking. As with any conference, the connections made outside the formal programme are often the most valuable, so the chat function in the sessions were heavily used to interact with speakers and share learnings.
Another big advantage of an online event is that all sessions are recorded and made available for replay, in case you missed sessions. All webinar sessions remained available to anyone on the official event website for another 10 days, after which they were moved to the EO4GEO and Groundstation.Space organiser YouTube channels.
For participants the online format has many advantages, including first of all the cost and time savings of not having to travel, even more true for speakers from all over Europe. It is far easier to slot an online event into your personal agenda than a physical event. With replays available for days it is easy to fit it into a busy schedule. The goal of the event to reach large new audiences is easier to achieve online than with location-based events.
Challenges of an online workshop
There are drawbacks too, of course. Despite the chat functions and the shared emails, it is more difficult to interact with speakers and fellow participants during breaks and lunches. One of the goals of the workshop is to bring people together to think about solutions for real world problems, perhaps seeding ideas for new initiatives, stimulate innovation and even forming new startups. The lack of opportunities to mingle and meet people over coffee and lunch and during joint activities means that this goal is harder to achieve.
In conclusion, there are pros and cons of both the location-based and online format. Having experienced both it can be said that the combination of the two formats greatly helped achieving the roadshow targets of inspiring many people, exploring space data-based solutions for real-world problems and acting upon the many opportunities that the Copernicus programme continues to provide.
Replays of the event
You can find all replays of the event in a separate post here