COVID-19 Custom Script Contest by Euro Data Cube

For the past runs of the Custom Script Contest, go to this page.

The coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has virtually paralyzed daily life as we know it. Even when the spread of this highly infectious disease has been halted, the world is facing huge challenges getting back to ‘normal’.

European Space Agency (ESA), in coordination with the European Commission, has launched a special edition of the Custom Script Contest, focused on the support of space assets during the COVID-19 crisis, managed by Euro Data Cube group. Following a similar format, but further to looking for new algorithms, we were in the quest for ideas on how satellite data could help monitor and mitigate the situation for the upcoming months, while the world will organize to get back to business and will need to adapt from this crisis. During the Contest (from 6th of April to 31st of May 2020) we have received many interesting ideas and proposals from remote sensing experts, machine learning scientists and the interested public.

Results and Materials

The Best Overall Idea

Monthly Winning Ideas - April 2020

Monthly Winning Ideas - May 2020

Weekly Winning Ideas

The best ideas were presented to the European Commission in the context of the dossier ESA is preparing on space as a support to Covid-19 situation in the EU.


Three focus categories were selected, for analysis of changes in:

  • economic operators’ activity (e.g. factories, supermarkets, transport networks, oil refineries, commercial ports),
  • human activity distribution (e.g. parked car distributions over urban areas, social distancing estimations),
  • agriculture activity (e.g. unattended fields and crops, disruptions due to supply chain issues, things that may contribute to mitigation of problems appearing in 6 months from now).

This initial focus did not prevent participants from elaborating other type of value-added information in relation with this challenge.

The focus geographical area was European Union, EEA, ESA member states and cooperating states.


In order to support participants the Euro Data Cube team has specially prepared an environment with:

  • High Resolution data collections in addition to our standard EO missions’ data offer. In partnership with Airbus and Planet we have made available Pleiades and PlanetScope data over several locations to support e.g. urban monitoring.
  • A plethora of Euro Data Cube Tools ready to be used for this purpose – starting from EO Browser, Sentinel Hub and xcube services, eo-learn, Jupyter Notebooks, EOxHub hosted JupyterLab and more, something for any skill level and for every analysis.
  • Participants were able to use Custom scripts to visualize satellite data (beginner tutorial on basic custom scripts, Evalscript documentation for more complex scripting options such as multitemporal scripting, custom script repository with other custom scripts ready to be used instantly).
  • More about EDC services is available here.


Results needed to be composed of:

  • PowerPoint presentation with images and the resulting analysis (mandatory)
  • Custom scripts/source code (desired)
  • Sample of the results (desired)


There were several rounds of evaluation, each bringing these prizes:

  • Each end of the week, the best contribution coming to that date (from start of the contest to the cut-off date) meeting the quality threshold received a 1000 € prize.
  • Each end of the month a prize of 1000 € was awarded for each of the three main categories (change in situation of economic operators, change in human activity, change in agriculture activity).
  • The best idea overall, exploiting European Data, meeting the quality threshold received a prize of 5000 €.

Evaluation was performed by the European Space Agency. Each contribution could get one prize for each of the above (e.g. one weekly, one monthly and one overall). At the end of each week evaluation, prize was picked among the ones received to the milestone (including the entries from the previous week, if not yet having received an award).

Terms and Conditions

A selected sample of the proposed ideas was invited to the parallel contest, focused to bring these ideas to life in a form of the European Dashboard.





About the Copernicus Sentinels: The Copernicus Sentinels are a fleet of dedicated EU-owned satellites, designed to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are central to the European Union's Copernicus environmental programme. The European Commission leads and coordinates this programme, to improve the management of the environment, safeguarding lives every day. ESA is in charge of the space component, responsible for developing the family of Copernicus Sentinel satellites on behalf of the European Union and ensuring the flow of data for the Copernicus services, while the operations of the Copernicus Sentinels have been entrusted to ESA and EUMETSAT.