Security is an important theme within Dutch innovation policy. And within this theme, space technology has a crucial role to play, believes Jasper van Loon, member of the Management Team of the Netherlands Space Office. Today he is speaking at the KIA-Safety Symposium in The Hague about the many possibilities of space technology.
What is the KIA-Security symposium about?
'KIA stands for Knowledge and Innovation Agenda. This agenda emerged from the Dutch top sector policy. During the KIA-Security symposium, it is mainly about how the government, knowledge institutions and the business community can work together to solve security issues using innovative technology.'
Why is working together so important?
'You really need each other. If you only look at what is technically possible, or only at what you would ideally like to be able to do, you won't get the best solutions. Supply and demand have to match up well. You do that by talking to each other at an early stage.'
What is the role of the NSO in this?
'We have an innovation budget and the Satellite Data Portal, which makes satellite data from all over the Netherlands available to all Dutch people free of charge. We also have a lot of knowledge about the challenges within governmental bodies and the know how and innovative solutions within the Dutch space industry. You can see the NSO as a kind of broker that brings these worlds together.'
What security questions are on the minds of governments, for example?
'Take the Ministry of Defense, for example. It is interested in safe communication and navigation. In addition, the military also wants to be autonomous when it comes to earth observation and space situational awareness: insight into threats that may come from space. In all these examples, innovative satellite technology is part of the solution.'
Can you also say something about those solutions, the supply side?
'The NSO has had several successes with the SBIR - the Small Business Innovation Research scheme. Dutch companies built applications using satellite technology to detect illegal construction activities, detect changes and monitor agricultural crops. You can also use the same technology to solve issues for defense or the Ministry of Justice and Security, for example.'
Satellite data is very widely applicable?
'Without question. Now we still do that with individual innovation projects, for example for inspections or the Department of Public Works. What you want to move towards is a joint monitoring system, where satellite data is one of your data sources, in addition to measurements from the ground, with drones and from aircraft.' Symposiums like KIA Security provide an opportunity to talk together about what you need and who can develop what. That way you learn from each other and avoid duplication of effort.'