– How is VITO organised?
– VITO has around 800 employees. They are organized in different units and departments. One of the departments is Land Use and the two units addressing this topic are the Remote Sensing unit and the Spatial Modelling unit. At VITO Remote Sensing, we have an operations team that does the processing of the incoming Proba-V satellite data (operated under the authority of ESA—OneSoil)
, a technology team exploring new satellite missions, and an applications team. This last team focuses on applications for different themes; biodiversity, water and coast, and agricultural. I contribute to the agricultural applications team. Currently, I do automatic parcel delineation and crop type identification
with deep learning, and I'm also involved in a bunch of other projects.
We have a horizontal structure. In our team we have one supervisor who is mostly responsible for networking and finding opportunities for projects. And all the others are involved in several projects: some of us do project management and some focus on the research. For example, a few people are in Spain now for a project in which we are trying to detect the red palm weevil. We want to detect individual trees on commercial Pleiades imagery, and in the pilot study we want to see if you can use these individually detected trees to upscale them to Sentinel-2.– What types of projects do you do as a research institute?
– We have some big operational projects running, like the Copernicus Global Land Service
or the Climate Change Service, Horizon 2020
projects, ESA (European Space Agency — OneSoil)
projects or projects for FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN — OneSoil)
, like FRAME which is contributing to the WaPOR
portal. A considerable part of the research we do with the applications team, we do on a global scale. Also, we have a few smaller commercial projects. One of them is the 'watchITgrow'
online platform for Belgian farmers. One of the ambitions is to expand the commercial services, as they teach you what are the real needs of companies and society. However, our research projects will always remain our first activity.