Inspired by the 2017 WorldCover conference organized by ESA, the cardinal requirements requirements of the  WorldCover project are to  produce, deliver and validate a global 10 meters land cover map as fast as possible after the last data acquisition (within the next 3 month) with a mapping of a minimum of 10 land cover classes and a minimum overall accuracy of 75 %.

In this effort, the WorldCover project shall put emphasis on developing innovative approaches that best exploit the novel observational capabilities of both Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data at an acceptable cost. A crucial aspect in the project is the involvement of several end-users who’s requirements will be considered as the primary input for all engineering aspects, thus aiming for the maximum impact in terms of beneficial added value to the involved end-user organisations.

Taking these objectives into account, in WorldCover we will:

  1. Gather and synthesize the user requirements from five different end users communities which will be integrated in the project. Initial User Requirement Documents for each individual end-user are part of this technical proposal.
  2. Describe different implementation schemes for the engineering of the global land cover map taking into account the technical specifications of the user requirements. Herein we will, among others, assess different types of data fusion and pre-processing steps for optical and radar data streams.
  3. Investigate and benchmark these different implementation schemes resulting in the best methodology and algorithms to generate the land cover product. This will be done in an iterative trade-off phase in such a manner that the results of the analysis are representable when upscaled to the full globe.
  4. Establish a sound and scientifically meaningful validation methodology also including our key-users.
  5. Perform a proof-of-concept processing and pre-validation of 10% of the world (min 13 Million square km²). Meeting the delivery time constraints and the product quality requirements are the key questions to be answered.
  6. Implement a pilot demonstration of the service, i.e. generate the global land cover map.
  7. Deliver the resulting global land cover map to the different end-users and ESA and integrate, where possible, the product into the end-users application environment.
  8. Together with the end-users communities, validate the product and make a qualitative and quantitative assessment of its information content and suitability.
  9. Evaluate and analyse the future perspectives for a possible wide scale deployment of the pilot service and product within the different user communities