The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) is actively working to develop skills in the country with regard to Earth observation data, especially among students and stakeholder institutions. But it is taking care not to duplicate other human capital development programmes in South Africa.
"At Sansa, our human capital development is not in competition or replacing any training system in the country," assured Sansa research and applications development senior scientist Dr Clement Adjorlolo. The agency's training activities include internships, short courses, university teaching, science fairs, specialised workshops and conferences and staff exchanges.
Internships are for post-graduate students (Honours and Masters) and last for 12 months. They include training in such skills as image processing, feature extraction and the integration of remote sensing data with other geographic information systems.
The short courses range from one to five days each and are subsidised training. They are run by Sansa staff and/or invited lecturers. Each can take up to 25 participants and they are usually held at the training facility at Hartebeeshoek (west of Pretoria and site of a major Sansa facility). These courses a sometimes given in collaboration with local and international partners such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
"We need to do more and more of these short courses," he reported, due to the demand. "They are hands-on training for people working on [satellite] data, so that they can extract information from the data sets."
University teaching involves courses presented at universities across the country, showing how satellite data can be used by various disciplines. These courses can focus on specific components of satellite imagery, for example hyperspectral imagery, for specific applications.
"Earth observation, GEOSS [Global Earth Observation System of Systems] is supposed to be simple, accessible to everyone," noted Adjorlolo. To actually make it so is a major preoccupation of Sansa.