Tracasa develops the European Air Quality Index application for the European Commission and the European Environment Agency

After the success of the Web version, on which the Navarrese public company has been working since 2017, the new mobile application, simple and user friendly, will distribute information on air quality across our continent to the general public.

Tracasa has developed the EuropeanAir Quality Index (AQI) mobile application under its framework contract with the EC’s Directorate-General for the Environment and the European Environment Agency. After the success of the Web version, on which the Navarrese public company has been working since 2017, the new mobile application, simple and user friendly, will disseminate information on air quality on our continent to the public at large.

The mobile application, available for both the iOS and Android platforms, was rolled out yesterday in Madrid at the EU Clean Air Forum by Florika Fink-Hooijer, the head of the EC’s Directorate-General for the Environment, and Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. On hand at the event were Moisés Zalba, Tracasa’s Director of Operations, and María Cabello, Commercial and International Business Development Manager of the Navarrese company.

As part of its framework contract with the EC’s Directorate-General for the environment and the European Environment Agency for the 2020-2024 period, Tracasa does environmental data consultancy, compilation and design work with information from 38 European states. On this project it worked in cooperation with the Navarrese company Biko to design the mobile application’s final look.

“With the evolution of the AQI’s website format over the years, and its success as a tool for environmental information and awareness, the new mobile application, with Biko’s excellent contribution, constitutes a step forward in terms of accessibility, consultation and usability,” stressed Zalba, along Tracasa’s line of “advancing with innovative solutions that contribute to the public sector’s digital transformation”.

The work carried out by Tracasa in recent months – with a team including Miguel Villafranca, Mikel Azpilicueta (Ibertech), Igor Trébol, Rubén Razquin, Sara Domínguez, David Rivero, Iván Pérez, Josu Ramírez and Iratxe Orbe – allows users to view, on their mobile phones, air quality data collected by more than 4,500 stations throughout Europe and combined with other sources, such as the CAMS (Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service).

The mobile application was created with the aim of establishing it as a reference point for air quality data in Europe, and of informing the public about air pollution and the actions being taken to improve air quality. “It is also relevant to provide citizens with information to reduce their exposure to polluted air, so that they can make decisions about their outdoor activities, with an emphasis on vulnerable people; in addition to serving as a gateway to access information about other environmental issues”, explained Ramírez, head of the Software Engineering and Spatial Data Analytics area at Tracasa.

Meanwhile, Mikel Irujo, the Government of Navarre’s Minister of Economic and Business Development, and President of Tracasa, underscored the project’s “‘made in Navarre’ technological development, and the territory’s capacity to work abroad,” while celebrating that “in the context of the two-fold ecological and digital transition, this tool is a good illustration of how technology and digitization are put at the service of institutions and citizens, providing a benefit; in this case related to the environment and health”.

Founded in 1990 and based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the EEA is a European Union body whose main task is to provide high-quality, independent information on the environment. Thus, the AEMA is the main source of information for those overseeing the development, approval, execution and evaluation of environmental policies, and also for the public at large.

Tracasa obtains two certifications from Esri: Utility Network and Release Ready

A national leader in the implementation of network management systems in the water sector, these two seals certify the Navarrese company’s specialization in and knowledge of Esri technology

Tracasa, a public company of the Government of Navarra attached to the Department of Economic and Business Development, recently obtained two certifications from Esri, the world leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software: Utility Network and Release Ready. A national leader in the implementation of network management systems in the water sector, both seals certify Tracasa’s specialization in and knowledge of Esri technology.

Firstly, the Utility Network certification confirms that the Tracasa team has extensive knowledge of this new Esri technological solution for network management, and, thus, guarantees that its work on projects featuring this technology is characterized by solvency, reliability and success.

In this regard, Tracasa’s GIS Projects and Developments area is already implementing its supply and sanitation network management system with Esri’s Utility Network technology at three entities managing the integral water cycle in Spain: Aguas de Burgos, Facsa and EMAYA.

Second, Tracasa has become the first company in Spain to secure Release Ready certification, which attests, in general terms, to its commitment to Esri’s technology and its knowledge of the latest versions of the American company’s product. 

“For Tracasa it is truly important, in terms of specialization and differentiation, to receive these two certifications from Esri, a company with which we have forged an excellent collaborative relationship over the last 15 years, and that has played an important role in our development as a leading company in the implementation of GIS solutions, both in the national water market and at European entities, such as the European Environment Agency and the European Union Satellite Centre”, explained Tracasa CEO Mar González.

Last March, Esri, with more than 3,700 partners around the world, recognized Tracasa’s work with the System Implementation Award: Ensuring Customer Success Through a Comprehensive Suite of Services, in this way highlighting the Navarra company’s capacity to innovate and implement geospatial technology solutions. With this award Tracasa became the first Spanish company to be honored at the Esri International Partners Conference.

Tracasa garners an international award recognising its capacity to implement geospatial technology solutions

Esri, the world’s market leader in Geographic Information Systems software, recognised the work of the Navarre-based company among its 3,700 partners worldwide

From left to right, Marcos Iribas Latour, Mar González Paredes and Moisés Zalba Almándoz.

Esri, the international market leader in Geographic Information Systems software, recognised Tracasa’s work among its 3,700 partners around the world, issuing it the “System Implementation Award: Ensuring Customer Success Through a Comprehensive Suite of Services”, thereby praising its capacity to innovate and implement geospatial technology solutions. With this honour, Tracasa becomes the first Spanish company to receive an award at Esri’s International Partners Conference.

The American firm highlighted Tracasa’s capacity for innovation, creativity and guidance when it comes to solving the greatest challenges faced by its clients through the use of Esri’s geospatial analysis tools, implementing quickly, accurately and reliably the best services and solutions to exploit Location Intelligence capacities, and make better decisions. 

National and international experience

Tracasa, a public company of the Government of Navarre attached to the Department of Economic and Business Development, specialises in innovative and high value-added services in land management and Geographic Information Systems, and boasts extensive experience in this field both nationally and internationally.

In Spain, Tracasa stands out particularly for its experience in the Water sector, where its supply and sanitation network management system, featuring Esri technology, is present in 11 total water cycle management entities, while at the international level its work for entities such as the European Commission’s Directorate General for the Environment, the European Environment Agency, the Joint Research Centre of Ispra (Italy), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the European Union Satellite Centre, and the Government of Ireland, is of special relevance.

Recognition, collaboration and innovation

“For Tracasa it is great news to receive an international award of this calibre. As a leading company in the implementation of GIS solutions and in the use of Esri technology, this award is a truly special recognition from Esri, an excellent partner on numerous projects over the last 15 years. It is also an extraordinary source of motivation to continue advancing in innovative and high value-added work on the national and international market. Congratulations to the entire Tracasa staff, because, without their effort and dedication, this award would not have been possible”, said Tracasa CEO Mar González Paredes.

Ángeles Villaescusa, General Manager of Esri Spain: “We at Esri Spain are very proud of this award, an acknowledgment of the great work they do as partners and that we undertook together more than a decade ago. The collaboration between Tracasa and Esri has demonstrated that their alignment successfully addresses the challenges that different market sectors pose. Thanks to their capacity for innovation and adaptation to new technological trends, for Esri, Tracasa will continue to be a national and international leader”.

Tracasa presents its work on the super-resolution of satellite images at the ISPRS Congress, a leading international event on remote sensing

The “Learning Super-Resolution for Sentinel-2 images with Real Ground Truth Data from a Reference Satellite” project was included in the company’s yearbook after being deemed one of the congress’s finest pieces of work

In the image, the team that worked on the super-resolution project. From left to right, in the top row, Rubén Sesma Redín, Christian Ayala Lauroba and Mikel Galar Idoate. In the bottom row, Lourdes Albizua Huarte and Carlos Aranda Torres.

Tracasa, a public company of the Government of Navarra, exhibited its work on the super-resolution of satellite images at the Annual CISPRS (International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing) Congress, a leading international event in this field, held in Nice (France) between August 31 and September 2.

Photogrammetry and remote sensing (through the use of satellites) makes it possible to obtain accurate information from images and other sensors on the Earth and its surroundings, and to study physical processes through the recording, measurement, analysis and representation of the data obtained.

Tracasa presented its project, “Learning Super-Resolution for Sentinel-2 images with Real Ground Truth Data from a Reference Satellite”, in which it explained its SENX4 technology, which makes it possible to multiply four-fold the resolution of satellite images with Deep Learning techniques (see the complete resampled layer of the Iberian Peninsula) and improve all the metrics previously obtained in this area.

After being assessed by the ISPRS as one of the best projects presented at this edition of the congress, Tracasa had the opportunity to explain it live over the course of the meeting, which this year, in its 24th edition, managed to draw more than 1,000 attendees –with more than 100 universities and research centers represented- and receive papers from more than 500 authors.

In addition, Tracasa’s work, carried out by the team made up of Rubén Sesma Redín, Christian Ayala Lauroba, Mikel Galar Idoate (UPNA researcher), Lourdes Albizua Huarte and Carlos Aranda Torres, was selected to be part of the ISPRS yearbook after being chosen as one of the best projects presented to the company in 2020.

Presence in the journal Remote Sensing

The super-resolution project prepared by Tracasa was also recently published in the journal Remote Sensing, an international publication produced monthly by the MDPI platform. Specialized in remote sensing, it has a significant impact on the scientific community. It appears in a special issue of the journal entitled “Remote Sensing Data Fusion as a Strategy to Add Value to Earth Observation Data”.

“For Tracasa, receiving this recognition and being able to benefit from diffusion of this magnitude allows us to undertake the projects to come with greater enthusiasm. It is an endorsement of the enthusiasm and efforts of a great team that has been working for years to strategically position the company at a high technological and scientific level”, explained Carlos Aranda, head of R&D at Tracasa and a member of the work team that participated in the super-resolution project.

Tracasa, a public company of the Government of Navarra attached to the Department of Economic and Business Development, renders its main services in the areas of cartography, territorial management and information systems, and offers tailor-made solutions for the modernization of public administrations and private entities, both nationally and internationally.

Tracasa multiplies by four the resolution of the images of the Sentinel 2A satellites with deep learning techniques

The public company of the Goverment of Navarra improves all the metrics previously obtained in this field with SENX4, a new enabling technology that is at the cutting edge of superresolution

Tracasa, public company of the Goverment of Navarra, has multiplied by four the resolution of the images of the Sentinel 2A satellites with deep learning techniques. Tracasa has reached this international milestone with SENX4, an enabling technology that improves all the metrics previously obtained in this field and that is at the cutting edge of superresolution. Here you can find more about SENX4, in Tracasa´s website, in the section Innovative stories.

“Sentinel 2A satellites of the European Space Agency offer multispectral images with a spatial resolution of 10 meters per pixel, which sometimes can limit their uses. In Tracasa, with our SENX4 model we have improved the RGB and NIR bands resolution, going from 10 meters per pixel to 2,5 meters per pixel, with a 4X factor” , explains Carlos Aranda, Tracasa Research and Innovation manager.

To achieve this result, Tracasa has taken a new step in the field of artificial intelligence and has used deep learning techniques in photogrammetry. These techniques use deep learning algorithms to copy and improve the human capacity to process and recognize patterns in images.

Aranda says that in order to increase the resolution of the images “we have not done postprocessing actions, such as color adjustments or sharpening (a technique that is used to remark the details of the images but spoils its spectral information). Our model only uses artificial intelligence to learn the patterns of the data and get an image as real as possible”.

Taking as a reference the combination of PSNR and SSIM indexes, a measurement system widely used in the analysis of images, the images obtained with SENX4 model offer an important improvement in the metrics compared to the images obtained with traditional interpolation models, achieving, as a final result, more defined images, clearer and more adjust to reality.

This milestone in the field of images superresolution opens the door of its aplication in different sectors. “SENX4 model is a technological tool that was unthinkable just a few years ago. From this moment, its use can be really relevant, for example, in the generation of maps related to topics such as the environment, emergency care or security”, explains Aranda.

Innovative stories: a meeting point in Tracasa´s website

In the section Innovative stories, Tracasa is going to present its most cutting-edge investigations, those tools that have a disruptive technology and that can have an important development in the next years. “Innovation and motivation to find new paths in the technological development are part of Tracasa´s DNA. We want that our progresses can converge in a single meeting point: Innovative stories”, Aranda says.

In this way, Tracasa plans to provide new innovative approaches in subjects such as artificial intelligence and data science, automated analytical models of remote sensing and geoscience, specialized digital models of the territory and 3D cities, smart cities platforms and digital twins (Internet of Things) and smart mapping in the field of mobility.

 In the last years, Tracasa has made a firm commitment to develop the use of artificial intelligence. In this sense, the public company of the Goverment of Navarra has developed, in collaboration with Tracasa Instrumental, 16 projects related to artificial intelligence since 2017, 11 of them in the last year. Besides, Tracasa is part of the IA Technology Capabilities Map in Spain, and has recently incorporated its services to the Digital Innovation Hub promoted by the Goverment of Navarra.

Tracasa signs a 4-million-euro framework agreement with the European Commission

Through early 2024, the Government of Navarra’s public company will be charged with the validation of the Emergency Management Service of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation program

Map of floods in Orihuela (Spain), in September of 2019. Source: Copernicus.

Tracasa has signed a framework agreement worth 4 million euros with the European Commission, as the company being entrusted with the validation of the Emergency Management Service of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation program. Tracasa, which has secured this assignment for the third consecutive time since 2012, will carry out this work until the beginning of 2024.

Tracasa, a public company of the Government of Navarra attached to the Department of Economic and Business Development, renders its main services in the areas of cartography, territorial management and information systems, and offers tailor-made solutions for the modernization of public administrations and private entities, both nationally and internationally.  

The experience Tracasa has acquired over the course of these years in the fields of cartography, data processing, and the management of satellite images, the multidisciplinary nature of its work teams, and its knowledge, acquired through numerous tasks related to European institutions, were pivotal for its selection by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission in Ispra (Italy).

Minister of Economic and Business Development Manu Ayerdi reacted “very positively” to the news of the renewal of this framework contract for the third consecutive time: “It is a sign of the public company’s solid position in the international arena. This recognition of the important contribution that the public network makes to Navarra’s competitiveness is also very satisfying”.

Verification and contact with users

Isabel Goñi Turumbay, project manager at Tracasa, sums up the work carried out by the company as part of this framework agreement: “We carry out actions and analysis on demand through activations that we must resolve in specific time frames. Among other activities, we are in charge of verifying the quality of a sample of products created by the Rapid Mapping subcomponent, and by theRisk and Recovering Mapping subcomponent, and of contact with users to analyze the service’s impact”.

Other activities included in the framework agreement are field work to collect data in situ, the validation of thematic cartographic information, analysis of the emergency situation, searches for alternative information sources, and evaluation of the added value that products give users.

Virtual meeting of part of the Tracasa team working on the project. From left to right, in the top row: Teresa de Blas Corral, Raquel Ciriza Labiano, Maite Zabaltza Jimeno and María Cabello Martínez. In the second row: Idurre Barinagarrementeria Arrese, Mikel Viñuales Lasheras, Esperanza Amezketa Lizarraga and Isabel Goñi Turumbay. In the bottom row_ Arantzazu Larrañaga Urien, Uxue Donezar Hoyos and Fermín Ros Elso.

As a new development relative to previous contracts, Tracasa will oversee a network of experts in natural disaster risk assessment, with the aim of enhancing the consulting work that was already being done under the previous contract, focused on developing and testing new work methodologies that allow for the implementation of new solutions and enhanced mapping services.

The European Union’s Copernicus Program

The Emergency Management Service for Copernicus provides timely and precise geospatial information from anywhere in the world (extracted from remote sensing data via satellite and supplemented by various sources) to all agents involved in the management of natural disasters, man-made emergency situations, and humanitarian crises.    The Copernicus program is coordinated and managed by the European Commission, with the cooperation of EU member states and various European entities, including the Joint Research Center, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

SENX4: At the cutting edge of superresolution technology

WHAT DOES SENX4 OFFER?

When we talk about extracting information of images from multispectral sensors deployed on satellites, their spatial resolution is one of the main factors that will define their future uses. The ESA constellation of Sentinel 2A satellites offers to the scientific community multispectral images every five days in an open way. But one of the drawbacks of these images is their spatial resolution (10 meters per pixel), limiting their future applications.

There are a lot of methods to increase the spatial resolution of the images. Some solutions try to improve the 13 bands of each satellite, taking all of them to 10 meters using the bands with the máximum resolution. Other solutions develop models with 2X and 4X scaling factors from the 13 bands, thinking that is possible to use this factor to take the bands from 10 meters to 2,5 meters. But nobody has yet created a model to transform the 10 meters bands into 2,5 meters with a contrast of real bands.

In Tracasa, with our SENX4 model we have improved the RGB and NIR bands resolution, going from 10 meters to 2,5 meters with the 4X factor.

HOW HAVE WE GOT IT?

Until now, to increase the resolution were used the traditional technics of interpolation and resampling: linear interpolation, bilinear, cubic and bicubic. In our case, to increase the resolution in a 4X factor, we have used deep learning technics and with cutting-edge convolutional neural networks we increase the resolution of the images without including unwanted patterns, improving the traditional methods.

We have not used sharpening or color adjustments. We avoid generating very synthetic images, far from the reality of the sensor. Our model only uses artificial intelligence to learn the patterns of the data and get an image as real as possible.

 

VALUING THE IMPROVEMENT

To interpret the results we have used a measuring system that is frequently used in the analysis of images: the PSNR and SSIM combination. These measures are indicators of the quality of the results based on an objective image to achieve. The higher the value in the metric, the better the image will be adjusted to the real result. Taking bicubic like the baseline to improve in the traditional models of interpolation, we have achieved an important improvement in the metrics, that offers, as a result, a more defined image, clearer and more adjusted to reality.

 

 

EXAMPLES

 

 

USE CASES

Semantic segmentation (Streets and buildings)

With the new image SENX4 (2,5 meters) we can have a muticlass semantic segmentation more correct and accurate. We improve the segmentation metrics that we got with the data of Sentinel 2A 10 meters.

Clustering algorithms

With SENX4 resolution we optimize the results that we get with clustering algorithms. We add more precision in the spatial limits of the clusters and in their representative average.

Tracasa signs a contract for 6.4 million euros with the European Environment Agency and the European Commission

Between 2020 and 2024 the public company of the Government of Navarra will render services involving environmental data consulting, compilation, design and dissemination, with information from 38 European states

Tracasa recently signed a contract for 6.4 million euros with the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment. Between 2020 and 2024 the public company of the Government of Navarra will carry out environmental data consulting, compilation, design and dissemination services with information from 38 European states.

Among the tasks to be carried out by Tracasa, which also carried out this work between 2013 and 2020, is the maintenance and updating of the Discomap infrastructure (the EEA’s map service platform) and the standardization, design and dissemination, through interactive maps and graphics, of about 100 data streams covering different topics related to the environment, such as air, water, emissions, the climate and biodiversity.

Image of a virtual meeting of the project team. From left to right, in the top row, Iratxe Orbe Fernández (Tracasa), Víctor Villar Etxeondo (Tracasa), Ion Ruiz Iragi (Tracasa), Josu Ramírez Mariezcurrena (Tracasa) and Irune Badiola Uriarte (GIS Studies). In the second row, Sara Domínguez Serrano (Tracasa), David Rivero Ramos (Tracasa), Amaia Martínez Echeverría (Tracasa), David Ramírez Domínguez (Tracasa) and Álvaro Martínez de Lagos Espinosa (GIS Studies). In the third row, Naroa Iriarte Cárdenas (Tracasa), Esther Mata Pérez (Ibertech), Rubén Razquin Hernández (Ibertech), Mikel Rodríguez Manderson (Tracasa) and Mikel González Gainza (Tracasa). In the fourth row, José Alfredo Aznar Montesinos (Ibertech), Koldo Goñi Iza (Tracasa), Lander Uzquiano Valle (GIS Studies), Igor Trébol Araiz (Tracasa) and Miguel Villafranca Artieda (Tracasa). Finally, in the bottom row, Susana Guevara Arenas (GIS Studies) and Vicente Urdánoz Melado (Tracasa). Enrique Muro Arbizu (Tracasa Instrumental) is missing from the image.

Numbers, examples and relevance of the project

This work entails managing massive quantities of data. In this regard, Tracasa has been developing, as part of this framework agreement with the EEA and the European Commission, numerous computer solutions, including the European Air Quality Index map, with the data collected by 4,500 stations in Europe, the maps of the Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe, maps and dashboards tracking emissions from more than 30,000 industrial facilities on the continent, and ecosystem maps for European countries.

Image of the European Air Quality Index map, with its access link.

Department of Territorial Information Systems Director Moisés Zalba Almandoz highlighted the importance of this contract for the company, with 23 people assigned to the project full time: 15 from Tracasa, 1 from Tracasa Instrumental and 7 from two supplier companies; of these 4 are from GIS Studies and 3 from Ibertech: “Working for four more years for the EEA and the European Commission is gratifying, since it is the third consecutive time that we have won this contract, competing with the best European consultancies, and also a challenge, as it forces us to use very advanced technologies, such as machine learning in air quality time series”.

The EEA: facts and functions

Founded in 1990 and based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the EEA is a European Union body whose main task is to provide robust and independent information on the environment. Thus, the AEMA is the main source of information for those overseeing the development, approval, execution and evaluation of environmental policies, and also for the public at large. Data processing within the EEA is highly automated and, for this purpose, software packages feature FME (Safe Software), ArcGIS Server/Desktop/Online (Esri), Tableau, Microsoft SQL Server, Python and C#. In addition, for certain data processing, more and more Cloud computing systems (Microsoft Azure) are being used, and expert support is required to develop robust and automated computing solutions that can support the entire workflow.

Image of one of the maps of the Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe and its access link.