Irish earth observation and geoscience company Icon Group has won a contract from the European Space Agency to develop the Danube Environmental Risk Assessment Platform.

The new platform is expected to be used by port authorities, environmental groups, fishing and farming organisations, the UN as well as regional and national authorities

Icon will develop new space imaging technology to work along with cloud-based applications to detect, monitor, analyse and characterise the sources of environmental problems across 20 EU Member States.

It will work in conjunction with the EU's Copernicus programme, which is an earth observation satellite system coordinated and managed by the European Commission in partnership with the ESA, EU member states and other agencies. 

In recent years, Icon Group has secured contracts with the Department of Agriculture and the ESA to monitor crops, hedgerows and track wildlife disease across Ireland and Europe.

Tom McHugh, the chief executive of Icon Group, said that earth observation tools are becoming increasingly important aspects of how we monitor the real impact of climate change and how we then plan our activity and economies to mitigate negative environmental consequences. 

"The Danube Environmental Risk Assessment Platform will offer both Government and NGOs an invaluable tool that can act as an advance warning system for environmental catastrophe, ensuring better decision making that is taken in conjunction with other EU partners," Mr McHugh said. 

"The EU's Copernicus programme is one of the most ambitious projects in space at the moment, and it really represents a huge opportunity for Irish tech companies seeking to showcase new technologies. We hope to continue our work with the ESA in the future, to develop new pioneering technologies that have a real impact on people's lives," he added.