On July 14, 2021, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment organized a brainstorming event within the Copernicus assisted environmental monitoring across the Black Sea Basin – PONTOS project. This was one of the four brainstorming sessions organized within the PONTOS project. Three more similar events are being organized in Greece, Ukraine, and Georgia by the partners.
The event aimed to introduce stakeholders to the PONTOS project, its objectives, expected results, and outputs; gave a brief overview on Earth Observation (EO) technologies, Copernicus products, and their application in environmental monitoring; as well as presented the assessments within the pilot site Lake Sevan.
More than 50 participants who attended the workshop included policymakers, small and medium enterprises, NGOs, national and local government representatives, scientific and educational institutions representatives, and individual experts.
The event was opened with welcoming remarks by Mr. Alen Amirkhanian, director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, Mr. Vrezh Galoyan, deputy head of the Environmental Protection and Mining Inspection Body of the Republic of Armenia (EPMIB), and Ms. Astghik Hayrapetyan, a specialist from the Department for Coordination of Loan and Grant Programs, Office of Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan. The officials and representatives highlighted the regional and local importance of the project, the value of the partnership and the impact it has on the society.
Ms. Hayrapetyan further shared with the audience that this project was selected as strategically important for the ENI CBC Black Sea Basin Programme and is included in the upcoming ENI CBC Black Sea Basin Programme process as an example of a successful project for further initiatives development.
The sessions, led by the PONTOS project’s Armenian researchers, included an introduction about the exploitation of EO technologies, Copernicus products and services, and their application in environmental monitoring, followed by sessions on the research activities in the Armenian pilot site, their outcomes, and upcoming deliverables. Each session was followed by a discussion and questions from the audience. Participants in their respect presented and informed about initiatives and projects which could have synergies with PONTOS, and the team agreed to organize separate meetings and discussions for further collaboration.
One of the sessions was dedicated to the PONTOS platform, where Ms. Aghavni Harutyunyan, PONTOS project manager of AUA, presented it’s tools, structure, services, importance, and value.
“The uniqueness that our platform offers is its accessibility to a broad spectrum of audience, both professional and non-professional. One does not need to have a technical or coding background to be able to process satellite data. The platform incorporates various applications and tools for the users in an easy-to-access format and easy-to-use online services. It requires registration; however, the products are free of charge.” A questionnaire was developed and shared with the audience for their feedback and needs which will be incorporated into the further research work and the PONTOS platform.
While the stakeholders will have access to the platform early in 2022, the final version of the PONTOS platform will be released in December 2022
Copernicus assisted environmental monitoring across the Black Sea Basin-PONTOS is a 30-month project funded by the European Union’s ENI CBC Black Sea Basin Programme 2014-2020. The PONTOS will make information about the Black Sea environment from the EU Copernicus Earth Observation platform accessible to scientists, policymakers, citizens, and other relevant stakeholders. It will utilize information technologies to automatically retrieve Copernicus products, couple them with national or regional infrastructures for data acquisition and processing, and provide monitoring services for the Black Sea and the surrounding environment in a transboundary, standardized, and homogenized manner. The environmental monitoring system to be developed will be tested in pilot sites across Armenia, Greece, Georgia, and Ukraine.