Business Planet looks at how Europe is harnessing space-based technologies to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
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With more than 30 satellites, the EU's Space Programme - principally through its Earth Observation component Copernicus and its satellite navigation system, Galileo - has been deployed to strengthen Europe's response during the coronavirus.
"We have mobilised all the assets in the European Union to help ease the situation with the coronavirus," says Timo Pesonen, Director-General for Defence Industry and Space, European Commission. "Immediately after the crisis broke we did not leave Italy alone. But together with the Italian authorities, we offered them images of the most affected regions so they were able to take the necessary decisions. We also have eased the situation at the borders where the traffic has been immense and the queues have been long."
Easing border bottlenecks
Coronavirus lockdown measures and border closures brought in by governments in March caused chaos on Europe's motorways. To prevent that happening again, especially with lockdown restrictions set to be lifted, the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) and European Commission have developed the 'Galileo Green Lane' app.
The technology aims to improve the flow of freight traffic between countries and ease pressure on so called Green Lane border crossings, fast-tracks for trucks at border points inside the EU.
Once fully operational the downloadable app should provide both drivers and border officials with accurate and real-time information on traffic at the EU's internal border crossings, giving drivers the chance to choose alternative routes, or at the very least have advanced warning of long delays.
"There are 187 border crossings in the EU," explains Raluca Marian from the International Road Transport Union. "With so many border crossing points this tool is indeed very important and it is very important because it improves predictability, it provides real-time information and it helps us plan better.”