IPAC Participates in INSPIRE Conference

On 6th September, Dr. Phil DeCola, Chief Science Officer at the Sigma Space Corporation, and member of the IPAC steering committee, presented IPAC’s work and objectives at the INSPIRE Conference 2017 in Strasbourg, France. Dr. DeCola spoke about the revolutionary potential of photonics-based sensing in the field of environmental monitoring, and highlighted the need for European policymakers to reflect on the challenges associated with ensuring the compatibility of the INSPIRE framework with photonics-based data.

Dr. DeCola's presentation can be viewed here.

The INSPIRE Conference
The conference was organized to reflect on the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive, adopted in 2007, which establishes an infrastructure for spatial information in the EU, in order to ensure the interoperability of such information across EU member states. The conference both provided an opportunity to acknowledge what has been achieved so far, and to discuss what was needed to ensure the continued success of the INSPIRE framework. A core message of the conference, which is in line with the goals of IPAC, was the need to provide incentives for strengthened cross-border and cross-sector cooperation among actors at supranational, national, regional and local levels.

Photonics-based sensing: An opportunity for environmental monitoring
Dr. DeCola’s presentation stressed the opportunity created photonics-based sensing for the field of environmental monitoring, one of the areas covered by the INSPIRE Directive. Dr. DeCola emphasized this with particular reference to climate change policy, in the context of the Paris Agreement. Having achieved the political agreement, the focus must now be on effective implementation and evaluation of the agreement. This creates a need for accurate measurement, which, Dr. DeCola explained, can be provided by photonics-based sensing technology.

Photonics-based environmental monitoring and INSPIRE
Dr. DeCola stressed that the opportunity created by photonics-based technology also brings important implications for the INSPIRE framework. Photonics-based sensing represents an innovative technology that has the potential to revolutionize the nature of environmental monitoring data. Meanwhile, as it stands, the INSPIRE framework is not ideally adapted to capitalize on the photonics revolution.

In his presentation, Dr. DeCola raised a number of questions which must be addressed by policymakers. These included how the INSPIRE framework will respond the proliferation of  environmental monitoring data available as technologies become more widespread, and how  citizen science data, gathered, for example, from smartphone based sensors, will be incorporated.

IPAC and INSPIRE: The Future
Dr. DeCola’s presentation highlighted IPAC’s core message; that Photonics-based sensing has invaluable applications for environmental monitoring, including in the area of climate change policy. In addition, it posed a key question; how will the challenges produced by photonics-based environmental monitoring data for the INSPIRE framework be addressed by policymakers?

IPAC invites EU policymakers to reflect on these issues, and stands ready to advise and provide scientific support, while continuing to advocate for the scaling up of photonics-based technologies for environmental monitoring.