As we close out 2020 — a year that many, many people are all too happy to put behind — this issue of Policy Watch highlights policy and program advances that countries around the world are making in Space, AI, UAVs, and data.
In the Space domain, the European Space Agency has signed a $105 million service contract with Swiss startup ClearSpace to help remove orbital debris. ClearSpace-1, scheduled for launch in 2025, will be the first mission to remove debris from Space. India has come up with a new policy draft on Space-based remote sensing to push commercialization of Space Technology; and in the U.K,. ten new government-backed small satellites, with communication links between and among them, will be built in Scotland. Advances in AI occurred in Brazil, with the launch of a national AI innovation network focused on automotive and agricultural sectors. In the U.S., policy options for addressing challenges associated with AI use in the health sector have been articulated in a new report by the Government Accountability Office.
In China’s continuing effort to exert global leadership for UAVs, the State Council has urged the acceleration of Urban Air Mobility by enabling private companies to accelerate applications in areas ranging from emergency response to aerial sightseeing. Development of their regulatory framework, a prerequisite for many applications, is ongoing. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published airworthiness criteria for the proposed certification of 10 different systems, allowing for more complex drone operations. Included among these systems is Amazon for package delivery.
In an effort to boost the Indian national geospatial framework, the State of Punjab has launched two GIS portals to aid day-to-day governance; and in the U.K., the Geospatial Commission has published a “Enhancing the U.K.’s Geospatial Ecosystem” report focused on improving data access, maintaining public trust, and driving business adoption. In the U.S., the Open Geospatial Consortium Community has approved a new Standard (API-Features-Part 2) that will continue to advance discovering and accessing location information on the web and enabling data sharing. Lastly, Zimbabwe has launched its National Development Strategy, focused on developing rural areas.
As we look back on 2020 and the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the advances described herein, and those in earlier issues of Policy Watch, are even more significant. These policy and program advances across the globe, speak to the ever-increasing visibility of our field, and more importantly, to the emerging reliance on geospatial data, tools and services in our daily lives. As we look forward to 2021, while the virus will still be with us, I am optimistic that efforts emerging from our community will continue to touch every person every day. On behalf of the Policy Watch Team, I will take this opportunity to wish you, your colleagues and your families a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.
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