Description of innovation

The Region of Crete has developed the "EO Browser", a satellite system in response to environmental crises. The system quickly records and notifies the competent authorities and services about the magnitude and location of an outbreak. Users of the application are all citizens, public and private bodies. The application covers the needs of quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the areas affected by natural disasters on the island.

More specifically, from the occurrence of a fire or a sudden flood and within a short period of time, quantitative information can be available through satellite recordings, such as the total area and boundaries of the areas destroyed, but also the acres per type of vegetation, arable land or forest area that was incinerated or flooded. These data are valuable for the impact assessment as well as the targeted rehabilitation of the affected areas.

Moreover, at the level of the urban environment, it will be possible to capture the residential areas that have a high vulnerability status and that need to be restored and properly treated in the future as "vulnerable" areas. The system interoperates with the Copernicus emergency Rapid Mapping system of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, receiving information and satellite data from European and Global satellite image reception systems and open source data applications.

Reasons for innovation

It was found that the emergency mapping system of the Copernicus EMS service, which operates on behalf of the country on the initiative of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, is not activated in all cases of natural disasters.

For example, the central Greek system, while it recorded the flood events in Crete in November 2020, was not activated to record the major fires in July 2021. In order to focus on each area that has been affected in Crete, so that it is possible to assess in area and the type of land affected as well as the immediate response and improved operational planning adapted to the data formed by the climate crisis through natural disasters, the system pays particular attention to the immediate receipt of information concerning the region of Crete. In this way, the shielding of society's vulnerability against natural destructive phenomena will be enhanced, as well as the safety of citizens, especially on an island with intense geomorphology and increased natural, tectonic, urban, cultural and infrastructure safety requirements.

In this way the protection of local society from natural disasters shall be increased, especially on an island with many particularities in terms of geomorphology, tectonic, cultural.

Innovation objectives

The project has two main objectives:

The initial objective of the project is the rapid and accurate depiction of the situation in the affected ecosystems of Crete and in the infrastructure, using satellite recordings of very high resolution capacity.

In the context of the above objective, the system provides the possibility of comparison, so that on the one hand, the exact affected area can be estimated and on the other, information on the type of ecosystems or built-up areas affected can be extracted, so that their targeted restoration is possible.

In addition, the system aims at simplifying the procedure and at faster certification of compensation beneficiaries. In particular, the process time of claims and compensation are shortened.

Innovation results

With the implementation of innovation, it is expected to improve the overall ability of the Region of Crete to manage environmental crises and take environmental planning decisions. Also, the response time of the services to claims for compensation will be reduced in cases of e.g. flooding that hit residential areas or businesses, since the measurement and recording of the areas will be assisted (or even completely replaced) by satellite data, instead of topographical time-consuming mappings.

In particular, innovation is expected to have the following effects: 1) 100% accuracy of the mapping of the disaster in terms of extent and type 2) Reduction of 70-80% of the time of recording and valuation of the affected area, in relation to topographical measurements from the ground, 3) 70-80% time reduction of drafting claims and processing them. 4) 100% correct cross-checking in those cases where compensation is claimed from citizens (if indeed they are located within the affected area. 5) Reduction of the cost of the compensation procedure as there is no need for transport and installation of equipment neither for staff movement; 6) Reducing the risk and improving the safety of staff of valuation crews who were to be moved to dangerous affected areas.

Innovation is currently at dissemination phase

Design stage

The innovation was initially developed by the team of the Remote Sensing Laboratory of the Institute of Computational Mathematics of FORTH, as well as the Research Director of the Remote Sensing Laboratory & Applications in Urban and Natural Environment, in collaboration with other researchers in the field. Based on specific specifications given by the Directorate of Environment and Spatial Planning, as well as the independent Directorate of Civil Protection of the Region, the requirements, the objectives and the research process were designed. These elements were included in the programmatic contract signed between the Region of Crete and the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH) in June 2020.

Its basic specifications are based on remote sensing and active environmental management, in line with the INSPIRE Directive and Law 3882/2010 on data sharing.

The design of the innovation followed the following methodology: 1. The procurement of satellite images of high (3-5m) and very high resolution (<50 cm) was carried out before and after the two fire incidents, with mapping of the burnt areas in Vrisses of the Municipality of Apokoronas and in Kakopetro of the Municipality of Platanias. 2. The images were provided to the Region of Crete for further use. Based on these satellite data, the baseline mapping activity for the study area was then implemented, in order to identify the burnt areas regarding the type of coverage (olive groves, forest areas, arable land, Natura, etc.).

Finally, the innovation "EO BROWSER", was designed, in the context of the strategic planning of the Region of Crete, in order to connect with the other innovation the "Geospatial Information Infrastructure GIS CRETE" as an autonomous function of recording and evaluating disasters.

Experimental implementation stage

The innovation was tested for 10 days. At this stage, 4 people from three different directorates of the Region of Crete collaborated. Specifically, the working group consisted of 1 geologist specializing in Environmental Geotechnology, 2 people from the Directorate of Informatics and 1 civil engineer from the Directorate of Civil Protection. Also, the team was joined by 3 representatives from the open source company that supports the application. For the pilot application, the following methodology was followed: 1. In the first stage, time series of images were created in 6 different areas of the island, where through the EO Browser, the polygons with the total area of the land were evaluated, but also through the Corine land cover, the type of vegetation that was burned. 2. In a second stage, these data were given through electronic links (link), to the public, so that citizens can have direct access to the information. These data could also be attributed indirectly to the public, through the GIS Crete application (longitudinal comparison of images). 3. In the last stage, through the tool of change over time, it became possible to capture the fires.

Implementation stage

The innovation is hosted (for reasons of interoperability) in the installed Geospatial Information Infrastructure GIS Crete of the Region of Crete. With the appearance of a catastrophic event (flood, fire), within a few hours a time series of images can be produced and given to the competent services or citizens for qualitative or quantitative estimates. The combined information received by the employees of the service from the thematic maps of GIS Crete, is used to support decision-making in order to achieve the strategic objectives of the Region of Crete and the immediate response for those affected.

Dissemination stage

Innovation is disseminated within the Agency through the use of communication networks, presentations, informational and service notes, conducting seminars, etc. Also, through the website, the use of social media, the activities of the Press Office, the participation in conferences and workshops, etc., innovation is spread in the external environment of the Organization. In particular, the innovation has been presented to the Regional Council and to the Coordinating Body for Civil Protection (SPP) of the Regional Unit of Heraklion, in meetings with other Regions for the exchange of good practices, in a Conference on Innovation and Digital Transformation in Local Government in Thessaloniki, at the International Conference SafeGreece 2021 entitled "Civil Protection and new technologies", at the University of Macedonia in the framework of research entitled "Process of development of good practices in the Greek public sector" and in open speeches on climate and environment. It has also been discussed in individual interviews on radio stations in Crete and has been published in all news publications, through the corresponding press office of the Region.


The Innovation was developed following a programmatic contract between the Region of Crete and FORTH Remote Sensing and Applications laboratory in Urban and Natural Environment - RSLab), for the initial consideration regarding the uses of satellite remote sensing as a means of capturing the areas affected by fires. Subsequently, as satellites multiply, so does the ability to extract data, the Region collaborated with a company based on open source data in 2021, in order to enable the production of a time series of high-resolution images, almost immediately after the onset of the phenomenon and to finally attribute the result, through the already installed Geospatial Information Infrastructure to the public.

Financing and costs

For the initial planning of 2020, the members of the team of the Remote Sensing Laboratory of the Institute of Computational Mathematics of FORTH were employed. Then at the experimental implementation stage in the summer of 2021, about 4 people of the institution were employed for about 10 days. (1 geologist MSc specialist in Environmental Geotechnology, 2 people from the Directorate of Informatics and 1 civil engineer from the Directorate of Civil Protection), while from the open source company that supports the application, 3 people for an equal period of time. It is also estimated that people should be employed for the dissemination of the results of innovation.

Challenges and solutions during design, testing and implementation

The problems that arise are mainly related to the dissemination of the results and the possibility of cooperation between the competent services, but also of the citizens in such an innovation with which they are not yet familiar. Information and communication of innovation are critical elements of success. The Region manages these issues through information activities (workshops, press releases, interviews, publications & presentations in Conferences, social media posts) as well as the promotion of the advantages of remote sensing and the rapid reception of information through satellite data, instead of terrestrial measurement with topographical instruments, etc., so that the advantages in time, accuracy, efficiency, combined use, etc. can be highlighted. The briefing continues, in the era of the pandemic, and with the use of digital ways of interaction.

Assessment - description of the necessary conditions for success and sustainability of innovation

In order for innovation to continue to operate by multiplying its effects, it is first necessary to train the people involved in the reading and analysis of the relevant results. The overall system and its interoperability with GIS Crete should also continue to be supported by the open source data companies with which the Region cooperates, as well as by the e-Government Directorate of the agency.

Experiences, thoughts, findings

The climate crisis is transforming the conditions under which natural disasters are evolving in frequency, speed and magnitude of consequences. Natural destructive phenomena are now part of our daily lives. Every effort towards Active Environmental Management must include the great advantage of satellite imaging. In the period that was inserted from the initial programmatic of 2020 until the fires of July 2021, both due to the thickening of open satellite data, and due to the installation and operation of the innovative infrastructure GIS Crete, the Region is now able to welcome and exploit a large number of images of natural disasters and in even greater detail, in order to take on the basis of them the appropriate strategic decisions for the management of crises in case of fire or flood, etc.

Remote sensing methods, can contribute with clarity and complex search, numerous data as to the real conditions, laying the foundations for its operational implementation in the fields of civil protection and management of the natural environment. Through these modern tools and innovations, the ability to manage a Body and make strategic decisions to tackle climate change is enhanced, with the aim of protecting the environment and improving the quality of life of citizens. In the longer term, the possibility of designing new projects, which are complex and should be taken into account, in order to be safer, in the areas most considered vulnerable, is improved.

Institution: Region of Crete

Level of governance: Regional

Policy area: Public Governance, Environment and Climate Change

Design Year: 2020

Innovation Type: Process design and redesign, Data management and decision-making

Innovation Stage: Dissemination

Beneficiaries: General population, Businesses

Number of beneficiaries: Approximately 620,000 (population of Crete)

Sources of Funding: Public Investment Program (EDP)


Through connection with GIS

Autonomously in EO Browser



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