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Tell us a bit more about your Company

TerraScan offers a new generation of remote sensing services. We specialise in discovering, finding and exploring natural resources in an ecologically sensitive process. We combine extensive use of remote sensing technologies combined with proprietary approaches of signal processing, statistics and machine learning.

Our service offerings address governments, investors and operators. Experienced inhouse geologists interprete our findings.

We are operating globally out of Berlin, Germany.

What makes your services and products unique?

TerraScan is capable of identifying targeted resources (hydrocarbons, water, minerals, geothermal sources) on- and offshore down to 10.000 m below ground. TerraScan is capable to work very discretely without having to physically access the territory of interest. Wildlife and nature are preserved.

TerraScan uses a proprietary algorithm called gScan® that allows to identify surface patterns in standard satellite pictures. 

gScan® uses the radiation emitted by Earth to detect reservoirs and geological faults in satellite imagery. The findings are refined by taking fingerprints of already discovered natural resources and integrated into the model. We create a 3D subsurface data cube applying KI and statistics. Our models can reach accuracies of up to 50 cm offset in the depth distribution of natural resources.

The resulting subsurface maps, cross sections and 3D models can be analysed and compared with traditional seismic tools allowing traditional seismic to focus and verify findings and therefore save risk, time, money and ecological impacts.  

What are your future plans for the company?

TerraScan continues international rollout and creates references beyond the existing 60 projects in numerous industries.

TerraScan welcomes industrial players to benefit from our search capabilities for strategic materials such as in the e-mobility megatrend. Our reference case of finding Lithium for Volkswagen is a very strong proof of concept.

TerraScan offers additional services addressing its existing client base as well as addressing new fields such as Water supply, Ground Water Services and applications for agriculture.

What would you advice to someone who wishes to start their own EO company?

TerraScan believes in understanding the client´s day to day tasks, challenges and restraints. Anyone setting up their own EO company should build its services coordinated closely with future first customers for testing and reference. 

Don´t be stopped by: “This can impossibly work!” statements, especially not from your competitors or default technology users.

We still benefit strongly from working with Serial Seismic- and Oil-exploration entrepreneurs and geological opinion leaders. Transforming believers in traditional technologies into serial customers is the best proof of concept and a strong signal to future new customers.



1) Tell us a bit about the history of your company

SatSense is a spinout of the Earth and Environmental department at the University of Leeds. Their technology is based upon many years of research from internally renowned InSar experts Professor Tim Wright and Professor Andy Hooper. The company attracted seed funding in 2018 from Mercia Fund Managers, Unipart Rail and the University of Leeds

2) Describe your services and products:

SatSense has developed algorithms that convert Sentinel-1 InSar data to ground movement data. This data is stored online and is automatically updated every 6 days. Interfaces are available for direct access to this data and application programming interfaces have been developed to allow for integration with our customers’ applications. Our target markets are Property Conveyancing, Insurance, Geotechnical and Environmental consultants and Infrastructure owners such as rail and road networks and water utilities.

3) What makes you different from other EO companies?

The resolution of data is considerably higher than from other companies utilising Sentinel-1 readings. Further our data is automatically updated every 6 days making it applicable as a preventative maintenance solution for large asset owners.

4) What are your future projects?

Our plans are to expand our coverage across the whole of Europe and utilise artificial intelligence techniques to further improve our predictive maintenance solutions.

5) What would be your advice to someone who wants to start their own EO company?

Research the applicability of your invention to target markets as companies need to understand the value proposition of your technology and if this is a new capability plan on having to educate your customers on its benefits before achieving revenue.

Found out more here:
https://www.satsense.com/

Meet Penta Technology, a Consulting and Software Engineering operating in Italy since 2010, developing cutting-edge ICT solutions that create value and contribute to the improvement of processes and the digital transformation of the client companies.

1) Tell us a bit about the history of your company

Penta Technology was born as a consulting company in the ICT area engaged as a solution and system integrator, gaining considerable experience in the activities of digital & cloud transformation and in the use of systems based on neural networks to support the processes of automatic detection and classification on images. The company’s activities have always been complemented by continuous investment in research and development activities to increase the level of expertise of its team and to find new solutions to the problems of its customers. Three years ago, the shareholders decided to progressively transform the company from a consulting company to a product/solution company, identifying the earth observation sector as a great opportunity, leveraging the more than ten years of experience of some of them on projects in the field of space and earth observation. The idea behind the transformation of the business model was to combine technological expertise in cloud technologies and artificial intelligence sectors with the experience in space-based solutions. At the moment this is a bet on which the company aims to scale quickly in the national and international market in the next years.

2) Describe your services and products

The company’s research and development activities have led to the creation of the EarthAlytics platform, with the paradigm “analytics as a service”, able to offer integrated geoinformation services based on the complete control of the service value chain, from the acquisition and processing of images, in virtual multi-constellation logic and merging together information from optical and radar sensors, then moving on to the extraction of information of interest through the use of a system of convolutional neural networks, capable of recognizing objects, classifying phenomena and creating data fusion with information from IOT sensors or external data streams (for example weather forecasts or data from the customer’s information systems) and finally offering a representation of the information collected through graphical interfaces that are easy to consult or through the use of a cartographic system.

The basic technological solution, the EarthAlytics cloud platform, is then completed with a series of vertical applications, which combine the different internal service blocks, creating solutions for specific business needs of our customers from monitoring water pipes (and critical infrastructure in general) to urban planning, up to innovative solutions to support marketing planning in the retail sector. The last solution in order of time is that relating to new algorithms to support the insurance sector based on the analysis of satellite images.

The application of artificial intelligence, deep learning and big data analysis solutions have allowed us to explore a number of markets not yet fully reached by solutions based on earth observation (not space users) and provide an innovative solution, minimally invasive and quickly usable to solve some problems that customers encounter in their daily activities.
Finally, our position as a solution of analytics allows us to make the customer independent from the knowledge of the problems involved in the processing of satellite images, leaving it to focus on the business application and automatically managing the provisioning of the image with providers in relation to the vertical application needed.

3) What makes you different from other EO companies?

The downstream sector of the earth observation market is showing a strong competitive push, the sector’s startups are rapidly gaining positions compared to traditional players in the same market, still very focused on an image-oriented business model. Our marketing team analyses the competitive scenario on a daily basis and always discovers new competitors with interesting solutions and innovative business models.

Penta Technology has decided to compete in the market segment of Analytics-based solutions, where technology and the ability to provide a vertical solution represent one of the keys to market success. In this segment, we believe that we have a high-performance solution that can adapt very accurately to the needs of our customers. The unique selling proposition of Penta Technology is based on the ability to integrate solutions, which leverages on our background as system integrator, and on the level of service that will always have a specialist, with experience on the technology domain, able to support the customer in the analysis of data and understanding of phenomena.

4) What are your future projects?

Penta Technology has launched a three-year investment programme on the EarthAlytics platform with the aim of making the provisioning of services and the use of vertical applications even easier. The investments will make the platform an open system able to allow customers to build vertical applications independently from the building blocks of the system, combining them dynamically with a system based on rules, to build the solution that best suits the specific needs of the business model. Our goal is to become in the next three years a reference point for geoinformation services based on analytics at European level.

In the near future we will invest heavily in the international development of the business to consolidate the investments in technology, we want to attract the best talent in the field of geoinformation and put them at the service of solutions for our customers.

5) What would be your advice to someone who wants to start their own EO company?

The challenge to enter this market is increasingly complex, with an increasing number of competitors. The suggestion for new entrants is to focus on problem/solution fit, then start from the problems of a specific market segment and build a solution around these problems and, finally, to adopt a lean startup approach, which allows you to constantly validate your solutions with an audience of early adopters. Learning from errors is the best way to succeed in this market.

For more information about Penta Technology visit their website: http://www.pentatechnology.it/

It is our pleasure to present to you Spottitt Ltd. the winners of our Copernicus ecosystem workshop elevator pitch session.

Spottitt automated Land Cover Analysis generated from 10m resolution Sentinel 2 imagery.

HARWELL, United Kingdom, Spottitt Ltd. has launched a cloud-based workspace that puts massive satellite imagery sources and advanced analysis capabilities at the fingertips of energy, environment, and infrastructure professionals.

“Spottitt provides users with everything they need to extract valuable information from satellite imagery and related data sets in a secure, self-service cloud workspace,” said Spottitt CEO Lucy Kennedy. “With Spottitt, clients do not need powerful computers, image processing software or formal GIS training to leverage the value of geospatial data.”

The Spottitt online portal gives users instant access to multiple satellite image sources, including open source data from the U.S. Landsat and European Sentinel-2 satellites and sub-meter commercial image products from Airbus Defence & Space and DigitalGlobe. Other geospatial products include Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and infrastructure feature layers.

“A Spottitt user simply defines their geographic area of interest, and the system provides thumbnail images of available data sets for purchase,” said Kennedy. “The experience is fast, simple and efficient thanks to cloud-based processing and storage.”

The major differentiator of Spottitt is the powerful data analytics it offers in the cloud. The user selects from a variety of enhancement and information extraction algorithms that can be applied to their chosen data set. Designed primarily for use in energy, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure development applications, these analytics functions include the following:

• Land Cover Classification
• Building Recognition Analysis (Footprint extraction)
• Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
• Normalized Difference Water Index
• Rule-based Greenfield Selection
• Rule-based Wind Turbine Site Selection

“Analytics results are delivered to the client workspace for viewing, editing, and further manipulation within Spottitt,” said Kennedy. “They can be shared with other users or downloaded in GIS-ready formats into other mapping software environments.”

The Spottitt solution has already been used extensively in the renewable energy and infrastructure management fields. Energy firms have used it to select the optimal locations for wind turbines by mapping land cover and terrain characteristics in areas of interest. The Spottitt building recognition and change detection analytics are ideal for energy utilities to monitor changes and risks in infrastructure assets over time.

Spottitt workspaces are securely hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud, giving clients access from any browser-equipped device at any time. Clients are offered the option of paying for imagery and processing as they go or under subscription arrangements.

As well as being available to clients directly through Spottitt’s own online portal we are thrilled that Spottitt’s services are also available through Veracity, DNV GL’s industry data platform and online marketplace. DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company based in Norway, who established the Veracity ecosystem to provide easy access to databases, analytics, and applications for its worldwide customer base in energy, maritime and other industries.

“We are delighted to welcome Spottitt to Veracity and our rapidly growing ecosystem of applications, services and data,” said Barry Authers, Commercial manager Veracity by DNV GL. “We see big potential in combining satellite data with existing asset data and the Spottitt Energy solution is a valuable contribution to our marketplace.”

2019 will see us expanding our offering to our base of energy, environment and infrastructure customers to include analyses based on satellite Single Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery sources such as Sentinel 1 which can see through cloud cover and satellite derived atmospheric data from the Copernicus program, helping our clients automatically detect and quantify an increasing range of changes to land cover, features and atmosphere.

“The Spottitt team believes passionately that satellite imagery and data is a powerful source of global information that is underutilized because it a perceived as being inaccessible, expensive and complex to work with,” said Kennedy. “We believe that by making access to satellite imagery and complex analytics as easy as shopping online Spottiitt can bridge this gap but there is still a long way to go interns of getting the message out to industry that satellite imagery and data has arrived and is ready to support them. Pitching at the Copernicus Ecosystem workshop alongside many other interesting companies working with satellite data all helps to get the message out there.”

To learn more, request a free demonstration, or just find out what satellite imagery and analytics could do for you please visit us at www.spottitt.com or contact us at info@spottitt.com.

DRAXIS was founded in 2000 in Thessaloniki – Greece. During the early years, DRAXIS’s field of interest was the implementation of environmental studies and the provision of consulting services. Later on, and with a small dedicated group of experts, DRAXIS expanded into the environmental ICT sector; it was one of the first and few companies in Greece active in this domain.

Today, DRAXIS is a dynamic company that focuses on developing real life environmental and agricultural ICT solutions and providing specialized environmental consultation services. Passionate about applying ICT, DRAXIS uses, combines and integrates remote sensing technologies, compound algorithms, GIS and different data sources to build multi-functional web-based platforms and mobile applications, decision making tools, crowdsourcing platforms, workflow systems and other software solutions.

Leveraging its unique know-how and expertise on the environmental and agricultural sectors, DRAXIS anticipates market needs and develops state-of-the-art solutions for the private and public sectors at local, national and European levels. The solutions provided mainly target the fields of environment, agriculture, air quality, citizen science, weather forecasting, e-government.

Having an experienced diverse pool of professionals, DRAXIS puts a great deal of effort into its own research, so as to keep up with the latest scientific advances; this, coupled with its active involvement in European and National research projects, enables the company to develop solutions and services that help users to address challenges and customers to explore new business opportunities. The implementation of several research projects, brought into DRAXIS valuable experience, so in the last 5-8 years the company has created a new department and has entered the field of Earth Observation. As part of its expertise and involvement in R&D projects, DRAXIS delivers products and services that make use of EO data for the agricultural and the air quality sector.

A. Services for the Air Quality Sector
Air pollution is one of the major environmental challenges of the present age that poses threat to human health. Having years of expertise in this field, DRAXIS develops ICT solutions that help citizens, industries and governments to monitor and forecast the air pollution levels and tackle their negative impacts.

Envi4All

Envi4All is a service built by DRAXIS to provide direct access to targeted, localised, and easy –to-understand information on air quality (current, forecast, and historical), making use of diverse sources of large datasets of open data on air quality, including Earth Observation data. Envi4All is offered through a mobile application and an API service, while the forecast methodology was developed by DRAXIS using CAMS products, official air quality measurements and data from IoT sensors. Personalized recommendations and alerts for poor air quality conditions are providing to citizens according to their needs and sensitivities, while businesses can provide added value services by using and integrating the Envi4All forecast in their offerings.

AirQast

DRAXIS also participates in the Horizon2020 project AirQast that builds a self-sustainable platform providing air quality services based on Earth Observation data. The services that will be developed in the framework of the project include monthly updated regional emissions at 1km resolution using top-down observations, street level air quality maps taking into account the meteorological conditions and local emissions, advanced hourly air quality forecasts, and decision-making tools to manage air quality events. The AirQast project envisions building a one-stop portal platform containing tools and functionalities that facilitate and simplify the access, visualization and management of air quality data for commercial and policy purposes.

B. Services for Agriculture

Crop management is a quite difficult and continuing challenge for small and large farm holdings, agri-food companies and public agencies responsible for delivering the agricultural policy. DRAXIS uses its expertise both in the agricultural and the ICT sector and combines different technologies to develop software solutions and services that make farm management more efficient and the implementation of agricultural policy simpler. Today, DRAXIS coordinates two H2020 earth observation projects, APOLLO and RECAP, aiming to make the big step from providing geospatial services for the environmental sector to providing earth observation services for the agricultural sector.

Operational Crop Advisory Services

APOLLO is a commercial platform that provides a suite of EO based farm management advisory services designed to address the needs of small farmers, agricultural cooperatives and agricultural consultants. The core application is a web-based platform with GIS capabilities, which is accessible using all operating systems. The platform is complemented by a mobile application, designed to assist agricultural consultants to conduct tasks in the field related to the APOLLO platform.

ICT Solutions for the Common Agricultural Policy

RECAP is a commercial platform (cloud-based Software as a Service – provided as a web-based and mobile/tablet application) that integrates satellite remote sensing and user-generated data into added value services for farmers, public authorities and agricultural consultants. RECAP responds to the Common Agricultural Policy monitoring challenges, allowing a remote compliance control system for specific rules of Cross-Compliance and Greening, providing advanced manual and fully automatic hybrid Earth Observation (EO) techniques combined with user-generated data (geotagged and timestamped photos).

Following the successful implementation of a number of R&D National and European projects, the next steps for DRAXIS are to bring the developed solutions into the relevant markets and thrive. Additionally, the company aims in establishing fruitful synergies for new R&D projects and ideas, so as to extent its current market portfolio of EO powered applications to other sectors like water management, circular economy, waste and climate change mitigation.

“As the founder of the company and the CEO for almost 15 years I would urge other entrepreneurs to always keep a high standard in their work no matter how tight the projects are. Hard work and High quality in the final deliverables never failed anybody!” Evangelos Kosmidis (Founder of DRAXIS ENVIRONMENTAL SA)

“Website:“https://draxis.gr/

By combining technologies from immersive 3D, financial services, television and earth observation, 3DEO have developed a new approach to the interaction with and presentation of diverse data, from space to smart phones. 3DEO think and inform visually revealing much more than can be seen from traditional perspectives. 3DEO solutions have widespread application, from defense to disaster risk management, estate management and financial markets insight.

3DEO deliver solutions along the chain from the sensor to information, including on board technology, RF links, and full scope ground processing, including atmospheric and geometric processing, analytics, and visualization. We have partnered with the organizations we feel are most suited to enabling us to reach of goals, including First Derivatives, Ghalam, and Spacemetric.

3DEO are based in the Scottish Provident Building by the City Hall in Belfast. There are 15 of us currently, and we are always recruiting talented and enthusiastic engineers, developers and data scientists.

Our goal is the elimination of time between sensor and information, to this end we work with the best in class technology providers from the sensor developers through to the data visualisation and immersive technology providers.

From our work on sensor to information, we determined a need to improve the RF links available for a small, micro and nano satellites. The costs of the RF links and ground processing exceeding the costs of the satellites in some cases.

3DEO NI Limited have partnered with Ghalam to introduce the software defined radio RF link for flexibility, multi satellite utility, and significant hardware, and subsequent ongoing operating costs reduction.

We have found RF Links and Ground Processing tended to be a significant, but usually under specified element of the development programmes for satellite EO missions.

Many EO small satellite missions are using dedicated RF and ground processing systems with little flexibility in the capability of the hardware, and subsequent software, which had to be developed or bought, tested and dedicated to the mission.

The aim of 3DEO has been to introduce a solution to increase the application of payload data from the satellite, by providing a software defined RF link, for transmission and reception of payload and platform data, to reduce the hardware costs for initial capital outlay, and to enable scale for multiple satellites and rapid deployment for shorter missions.

3DEO have developed an SDR based RF link, for full duplex communications, proven to work well with EO satellites, and capable of handing the data needs for UAV’s, HAPS, Live Video, as well as meeting other, typically time critical communications needs.

The solution developed has been under test since early 2017, and has demonstrated capability beyond expectations in surety of reception and transmission, and in the volume and veracity of the variation of applications for rapid re-configuration tests.

The hardware requirements have gone from a dedicated 6U rack space to an ‘RF link in your pocket’, with substantial cost savings on comparable products, but with the fully duplex solution only available from 3DEO.

The SDR will be deployed for the KazSTSAT satellite in the Summer, when 3DEO will have its first fully operating demonstrable solution.

3DEO are also in dialogue with a number of additional organisations looking at the full ground processing solution, built around the reception capabilities of the SDR RF link.

The SDR RF Link is the first development from 3DEO into the market is at one end of the full sensor to information scope we offer. The ongoing development of the ground processing, including analytics and visualisation, continue at pace, with the benefits of full turn-key solutions in data reception, processing, analysis and visualisation being particularly well suited to those customers with time critical data needs, from a wide variety of data sources and the need to gain decision support insight in a timely manner.

Source

Breaking point was a discovery that it actually is possible to process source EO data in real time, without compute intensive pre-processing or expensive infrastructure. This has opened the door for Sentinel Playground, a web application giving access to complete global Sentinel-2 archive to anyone. Something, that a few years ago could be only built by a company like Google. This put Sinergise on the “Earth observation map”. After winning the Copernicus Masters award, a recognition of Sentinel Hub – the service for processing and distribution of satellite data – reached a tipping point and other application developers, who struggled trying to use free and open Copernicus data, started coming.

Sinergise is a GIS software development company with a decade of experience in agriculture, land management and cloud GIS solutions. Although Sinergise was founded in 2008, the story of the Sentinel Hub started a couple of years later. Working with public institutions in Europe, Africa and Asia, Sinergise was keenly promoting potential of on-going monitoring based on Sentinel-2 data even before the satellite was launched. However, it quickly became apparent that using existing technology for pre-processing of raster data, the task was too costly, both from infrastructure and maintenance point of view. A small group of engineers decided to do the unthinkable – to build a system from scratch. And it worked. Unbound from limitations of 3rd party software they could tweak and re-tweak each part of the puzzle until it worked fast enough. Amazon lent an ear for storage and together they have established Sentinel-2 Open Public Dataset. A combination makes it possible to process majority of requests in under a second – querying a database with millions of entries to select appropriate scenes, downloading relevant data from peta-byte archive, decompressing, compositing, re-projection and more. Quite an unthinkable.

Today, Sentinel Hub is empowering application developers around the world building EO-based applications. It is a payable service, but users have quickly realised that it is much more cost effective to pay a small amount every month than to develop and maintain the system by them. Analytical tools built on top of the core data distribution, such as multi-temporal processing, statistical API, custom band combinations and algorithms, make it even more attractive.

It is business but it is also much more. Sinergise wanted to do something good for society as well. They believe that just about everyone should be able to access Copernicus earth observation data so that they could get an objective and up-to-date view on what is happening with the Earth, either in their neighbourhood or thousands of miles away.

Showcases

To explore the satellite imagery, the Sentinel Playground is a good way to start. It is a public showcase demo application providing access to complete archive of Sentinel, Landsat and MODIS. Everything in full resolution, globally, either years ago or as recent as a couple of hours after acquisition. It is as simple as possible, to engage as many users as possible.


Various stages of ice formation on Lake Erie. Cold winds are driving the pattern of thin ice streams in the area of open water. – Sentinel-2 from 2018-01-05. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2018], published by Zack Labe on Twitter

Similar, a bit more advanced, application is EO Browser, which opens other EO archives as well. After becoming freely available to anyone at the beginning of October 2017 it exceeded all the expectations. Today it counts almost 4,000 users who contribute to its success and improvements based on users’ experience.


Wildfire in Mendoza, Argentina – Sentinel-2 L1C from 2018-01-08. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2018], processed by Pierre Markus, full resolution image available here.

Who are the users?

Playground and EO Browser became well known and used among the EO enthusiasts and remote sensing experts, but what really drives Sentinel Hub forward is its core purpose, working with application developers who use Sentinel Hub services to power their applications for end users. We can talk about farm management tools in Europe, Africa, South America, Canada and Australia, or how paying agencies are using Sentinel Hub service to control subsidies. There are organisations from security field – EU SatCen and European Maritime Safety Agency among the users, who integrated it in their tools. Working with some of the biggest providers of geospatial tools and data shows, that they are on the right path. Just to give you an idea about the scale, Sentinel Hub processes over million requests per day, which is five times more than three months ago.

“We believe our services are empowering application developers to translate space data into useful information. And there are quite a few applications around the world in precision farming, security, land administration and environment monitoring. For example, FAO, Global Forest Watch and Greenpeace all use our services, and we process more than 1 million requests per day.”
Grega Milčinski, CEO at Sinergise


CLAAS Crop View application for farmers to get more value from Copernicus EU data is powered by Sentinel Hub and Sentinel-2 as part of 365FarmNet portfolio.


A South-African company Aerobotics offers on-demand satellite analytics and farming tools based on Sentinel Hub services.


Global Forest Watch uses Sentinel Hub’s imagery to monitor forests. Among others, their application helps discovering illegal deforestation, illegal mining and logging in protected areas.

Behind the scenes of Sentinel Hub

Since the Sentinel Hub’s technology is optimized for on-demand real-time processing of satellite’s big datasets it makes it possible to effectively and efficiently leverage open data distributed by several cloud providers – instead of the standard pre-processing, this platform does practically all the steps on-the-fly, as the user requests the data. There is only one pre-processing step, the indexing of data and their associated files, making access to the data much faster. There are two important benefits of this approach.

  • First is cost-of-operation, which is an order of magnitude less than similar systems, due to the fact that costs occur almost entirely when the user requires data specific to their area of interest. Their unique approach solves a common problem with EO data, namely that users are only interested in small percentage of data available, but it is impossible to accurately predict, which ones are those areas of interest.
  • The second benefit, possibly even more important, is flexibility of the service. By avoiding time-consuming dataset processing tasks, it is possible to add new features to the platform in a matter of minutes, which gives the user all the flexibility of additional data management.


Satellite imagery used as a basic component for planning UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) flights by MAVinci GmbH. Image shows true color imagery overlaid on 3D globe.

What the future holds?

After integrating all major open EO data sources as well as some commercial ones (Planet, Airbus) the amount of available information has become so large that it is simply not possible to check them all. It became apparent that machine learning is required to sift through the volumes and provide added value information or trigger alerts.

At Sinergise, they started with a pretty boring but extremely important problem – identification of clouds. This will make it possible to get a clean data for other tasks such as crop classification, flood detection, identification of new built-up areas, etc.

“When starting with Sentinel Hub, we came to a completely new world of remote sensing. But with a tremendous support by ESA and H2020* programme, we are capable to look a bit further in the future not worrying on day to date business only. And, without Copernicus team, we would have not even started. – Thank you!”
Grega Milčinski, CEO at Sinergise

For decades, people were using the EO data in various domains. However, with free and open data provided by Copernicus, USGS and alike, they became accessible to just about anyone. EO field was a game of big industry guys and research until recently, but not anymore. Anyone can engage. Either by simply going to their Sentinel Playground, observing and monitoring his location of interest, sharing the findings with others, or by building an app for end users or, for experts, using machine learning to help finding relevant things.

More info : www.sentinel-hub.com | info@sentinel-hub.com

Sentinel Hub has received funding from European Union’s H2020 programme, no. 755899.

Air & Space Evidence was founded in late 2014 to provide an investigatory service to clients by using EO imagery from satellites, drones and aircraft as evidence in formal situations such as in courts of law. We help individuals, companies and governments with image sourcing and analysis so that the data can be used as evidence to resolve legal disputes, and we also advise on using EO in dedicated monitoring and compliance programmes.

The Company’s origins lie in academic research undertaken at University College London by Ray Purdy (a lawyer with an interest in evidence from EO) and Professor Ray Harris (an EO specialist with an interest in legal applications for EO), and although we are still an SME we now have an unrivalled blend of academic and military intelligence expertise in the legal, security and technical fields of EO. Fast Company listed us as one of their top 15 “World Changing Ideas” of 2015

Team photo. L-R: Jon Carver, Peter Hjerp, Ray Purdy (centre), Ray Harris, David Tellett

The company is deliberately very distinct from other organisations operating in the space sector. When we started out we decided the company would be built on four key ideas.

1. It would be deliberately interdisciplinary and focus on law and EO.

Unusually, we bring unrivalled interdisciplinary expertise in both Earth observation technologies and the law. Our approach is legally orientated but purposely holistic, and this enables us both to source imagery for clients and to interpret the findings from the imagery. We offer advice on EO data policy issues and the management, control and authentication of imagery to be used as evidence (including appearing as expert witnesses in court); the assessment of the correct technical procedures to apply to EO data and the implications of privacy legislation and search warrants; and the implications of implementing EO monitoring into regulatory, policy or industry programmes.

2. It would seek to help encourage the greater use of EO to some industry sectors that do not utilise it (and could do).

We believed that the opportunities for evidence collection presented by EO would become progressively more important to those working in fields where formal evidence was important (e.g. law firms, insurance companies, regulatory bodies). Our experience in academia was that many of those working in these sectors had little awareness, knowledge or understanding as to what EO technologies can offer, its limits and its value as evidence. Further, we received many calls to the university from law firms and regulatory bodies asking how they might get imagery, which could potentially be used in evidence in legal disputes. These sectors had little idea where EO imagery could be sourced from or the evidential implications of using it. Spotting a gap in the market, Air & Space Evidence sought to bridge the link between the imagery from EO technologies and those working in a legal context. We spend a lot more time going to events which have prospective clients rather than interacting with other members of the EO industry – not because we don’t want to talk to other people in our sector, but because we want to focus spending our time finding out what potential applications there might be for the data. Our largest number of enquiries relates to criminal investigations and also environmental regulation.

3. It would give greater opportunities for the general public to use EO data.

There are significant opportunities available in looking back in time and EO archives are important as they can often provide historical (legal) evidence that would be otherwise unavailable. We wanted to seek to help move commercial remote sensing from the world of intelligence uses by the military and government agencies to the world of commerce. The general public is a huge market and we considered that there would be interest in a service whereby they could get access to EO data that could be used in an evidential context. To enable this, we marketed ourselves in a way that we thought would be understandable and engaging to the public at large – we styled ourselves as the World’s First Space Detective Agency. We have found that the public is very interested in EO as evidence. Most of our cases relate to planning disputes, but we deal with a large volume of different types of enquiry. One key problem we have encountered is managing people’s expectations following TV programmes like Homeland, Spooks and Hollywood films like Enemy of the State.

4. It would seek to communicate the value of EO to the media.

We also felt that the EO industry can sometimes be viewed as being in a bubble that doesn’t always connect sufficiently well with the outside world. We wanted to seek to promote the use and value of EO within the media. We also wanted to initiate debates that we considered important such as the privacy implications of EO. We have found that the media are extremely interested in EO and very willing to publish stories in this area (especially as the term ‘space detective agency” importantly did seem to strike a chord). In our short life span the company has been covered on TV, radio and the internet by national broadcasters such as BBC, Sky and CNN; national newspapers from many countries across the world; scientific publications like the New Scientist, Scientific American, Environmental Scientist; public interest magazines such as Wired, Fact Company, Quo and Vice; and industry sector publications. Whilst media communication can be time consuming and does not directly result in income, it can still be rewarding.

COMPANY GOALS AND SUCCESS STORIES

Whilst it has been extremely interesting building up the company and handling enquiries from the public and government, we also wanted to ensure that there was a regular flow of income into the company. This meant designing and selling our own monitoring services. At the same time, we also wanted to tackle a problem that was hugely problematic for society at large.

We decided to tackle the issue of waste crime, because this was increasingly causing significant damage to society and is estimated to cost the UK (where we are based) more than a billion pounds sterling a year. It is estimated to cost all EU countries €72 – 90 billion per annum. Interpol, Europol and the UN have identified waste crime as one of the fastest growing areas of organised crime. It is increasingly recognized to have the potential to rival drug trafficking in terms of scale and profits. Waste crime can also cause environmental damage to surrounding land, air and water, and poses a risk to human and animal health. Living near an unlawful waste site can also ruin people’s lives. Our aim was to try and use EO technology to significantly reduce the scale of the waste crime problem.

The key problem with waste crime was that it was often hard to detect – or to detect quickly before the damage is done and the criminal gangs have moved on. We decided to develop a semi-automated detection model, using satellite and map data from open data sources to detect unlawful waste dumping sites, whereby we could identify waste crime that governments are not aware of, bringing immense value to their work and enabling them to catch more waste crime gangs in the act.

Air & Space Evidence received funding for three projects in the last year:

  • The ASE team won a major award from the European Open Data Incubator to test the semi-automated detection model. Three sets of trials were conducted in Northern Ireland, with the cooperation of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, to determine the effectiveness of the detection model. The model had a 71% success rate in detecting illegal waste sites.
  • We undertook a project for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency examining remote sensing technology developments and their potential to detect waste crime. The ASE team conducted an examination of the types of waste crime problems that were taking place, and undertook a detailed technical assessment of which ones might benefit from remote sensing evidence. We then designed trials which will test the usefulness of remote sensing data in practice for detecting waste crime at both licensed and unlicensed sites.
  • ASE were part of a consortium (with Telespazio Vega UK) that won an ESA project on “Space Based Support Services for Waste Management”. The project (which has only just started) will examine how a combination of space imaging, satellite tracking and monitoring technologies can be used to tackle and enhance two specific problems facing the waste management sector – the tracking of waste and the illegal dumping of waste, and will demonstrate whether there is a business case for such a service.

An image from a potentially illegal waste site that we were investigating

We have developed a service called Waste from Space based on the work in the above projects. Finding illegal waste sites is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. They can be concealed, be different shapes and sizes, and be in a wide variety of locations. To tackle this, we combined a variety of techniques from both radar and optical satellite sensors, aided by mapping data, to discriminate standard land use types, concentrating on anomalies. We effectively focused on finding the needle by eliminating the haystack. Our technique discards the vast majority of items in the search area and allows us to isolate a realistic number of suspicious areas for further close-up satellite investigation.

Air and Space Evidence were this year’s winners of the European Earth Observation Product of the Year award. This award, given by the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC), was for our Waste from Space product, and was received at a ceremony in Brussels on 4 July 2017. Our product was selected because it supported the implementation of some of the key United Nations sustainable development goals (and the monitoring and reporting of these against the global indicator framework), in the most innovative way. Winning was a huge surprise and we were really very honoured to have been selected.

Receiving the EARSC Product award: Jon Carver, Air and Space Evidence and Rob Postma, Airbus and event sponsor

We are currently engaging with governments, environment agencies, EU bodies and supranational environmental compliance networks to discuss regulatory needs and the potential opportunities of implementing space based technologies into regulatory regimes to ensure better waste crime monitoring and compliance. A high-level workshop is to be held in Brussels in co-operation with DG Environment of the European Commission in late October 2017 to discuss the role of space technology in tackling waste crime. The Commission are involved as they are very supportive of the use of EO to tackle the growing problem of waste crime, and they also think our approach is very relevant to the promotion of Copernicus and the INSPIRE Directive.

Earth-i is an innovative and forward-thinking distributor of very high resolution satellite imagery. They plan to capture a significant share of the global market for Earth Observation services by launching Europe’s first commercial satellite constellation to offer both video and still images, and the first in the world to provide full colour satellite video.

Headquartered in Surrey Research Park, Earth-i takes an active role in supporting the UK space industry. They actively sponsored this year’s UK space conference and maintain close ties with industry leaders, co-located with companies such as Surrey Satellite Technologies, manufacturers of their new satellites, and the country’s largest academic research centre: The Surrey Space Centre.

Since 2013 Earth-i have been providing very high resolution imagery from three identical, British-built satellites. The DMC3/TripleSat constellation offers daily revisit opportunities to any location on Earth, multispectral imaging and scene capture individually or in strips up to 175 scenes long and a very wide swath width (23km). Across track and along track stereo imaging are also available. These satellites have found uses across industries including agriculture, wide area mapping and disaster response. Their combination of rapid revisit times and very high resolution is unmatched in the industry and Earth-i’s rigorous quality standards are maintained throughout acquisition and processing. Last year, these values were recognised by the State government of Queensland, Australia.

Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) awarded Earth-i the contract to supply very high resolution, optical data of the the entire state. DNRM will be using the data to update their geospatial database. No other satellite operators were able to provide the same resolution of images, with a similar frequency of acquisition at such a competitive rate.


©Earth-i ©21AT All rights reserved

To meet the needs of the DNRM, Earth-i provide a complete end-to-end service that covers acquisition, processing and delivery. Speaking about the contract, Steve Jacoby, Executive Director of Land and Spatial Information, DNRM, said: “We are delighted to have awarded the contract to Earth-i. They demonstrated a clear understanding of our needs in Queensland, the DMC3/TripleSat Constellation provides us and other Queensland government departments with both the wide area capability and the very high resolution imagery required to meet the needs of the user community. We were impressed with the professionalism of the Earth-i bid and the quality of data we will be able to work with to support a wide range of applications.”

At the UK Space Conference held in May Earth-i announced plans to launch and operate Europe’s first commercial constellation to offer both video and imagery. The announcement was greeted with excitement and interest from across the industry.

The launch of its own constellation is a natural evolution of Earth-i’s existing and well-regarded image and Earth Observation analytics business and will enable it to meet the rapidly growing demand for high-resolution Earth Observation data from traditional end-users and the growing sector for big data analytics and insights drawn from such EO data.

Using advanced, proprietary technology mostly developed in the UK and already proven on small satellites designed by the world’s leading small sat experts, Earth-i has commissioned a highly sophisticated small satellite for its constellation. The building of the constellation begins with the 2017 launch of Earth-i’s first prototype satellite (expected later in the year). Named by Earth-i ‘EiX2’, the satellite is being manufactured and launched in partnership with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), part of the Airbus Defence and Space Group and originally spun off from the University of Surrey.

This R&D satellite will be used to test performance and demonstrate capabilities for the future constellation including tasking, data downlinks to ground stations, and image quality and video from space before the launch of commercial satellites planned for 2019. 

During this time Earth-i will also be developing a cutting-edge service that will enable easy acquisition and analysis of imagery, and use advanced algorithms to extract value from the data. The use of video enables more images to be captured which can be stacked to create virtual 3D models.

Richard Blain, CEO of Earth-i, said: “We’re now at the forefront of the commercialisation of space and the rapid evolution of the New Space market. We’re a well-funded, capable and confident business that is following a different route to our US counterparts. We have designed and developed our constellation for organisations that need to strike a different balance between the cost of acquiring data from space, and access to sufficiently high-resolution of quality images and video to enable the detailed analysis that will help to further improve their own performance and capabilities. Owning our own constellation will enable us to completely customise our offering because we’ll have total control over mission planning and tasking, as well as assured access to our own significant global data source. We are also pioneering new value-added services and big data analytics that promise to extract the highest value from space data, as well as working with partner organisations to support in the delivery of global services.”

Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation at the European Space Agency, said: “There is an almost insatiable demand for data from space as people are realising its true value to both their planning and daily operations. Higher resolution image data from commercial organisations is likely to be very valuable either in its own right or when used in conjunction with other data sources including medium-resolution image data such as that provided under the European Copernicus Programme.”

For more information please visit www.earthi.space and follow on twitter and linkedin

Besides the huge touristic potential of the area, the Romanian seaside represents a complex and vivid environment, a unique interlacing between wild and protected life, traditional rural lifestyle and economic development.

Romanian Black Sea coastal zone is represented by 240 kilometres of the western waterfront of the Black Sea, situated between the Musura Gulf (Ukrainian border) and Vama Veche village (the Bulgarian border).
From geomorphological point of view, this area has three sectors: Danube Delta in the north, Razim-Sinoe complex (an area with natural levees), both included into the UNESCO biosphere sanctuary, world heritage, and the Dobrogea coast (sea fronts, beaches and harbours) in the south. Given this particular collage of different environments, the Romanian coastal zone represents for TERRASIGNA an interesting and challenging study subject with important benefits both for private and public sector, local and worldwide.

The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe and one of the youngest and most complex ecosystems in the world. This natural open-air biodiversity museum is affected by both natural phenomena, and anthropic changes (from exploitation of natural resources to increased navigation). A wider understanding of the environment is made possible with the HydroSAR service developed by TERRASIGNA that allows mapping and monitoring activities related to hydrodynamic features of wetlands, by using optical and SAR imagery and InSAR techniques. HydroSAR service exceeds limitations like: lack of consistent time series of in-situ measurements and the remote character of the study area, which makes the acquisition of in-situ observations not an easy task. Activities related to environmental protection and risk management mitigation can reach a higher level of effectiveness by using HydroSAR products: water extent maps, water flow directions maps and water level changes maps. This technology is completely non-invasive, accurate and cost-effective and can be also used for activities related to monitoring variations of the shore line and detecting changes imposed upon the environment by storms or other anthropic events for the entirely Black Sea coast.

Given the economic interest of the Black Sea’s basin in the region, it became one of the most environmentally challenged areas in the world and, consequently, a subject of transnational interest. In line with the high investments made by the European countries and their international partners in Earth Science data collection and dissemination systems (e.g. satellites, in-situ networks, ICT frameworks) as well as with the European Space Agency’s policy regarding free and open access policy to data, TERRASIGNA created ESPOSS (Earth Science Data Access and Processing Service for Black Sea). ESPOSS is the first online open source platform that gathers large amounts of information for the Black Sea area and provides its users access to customizable processing and analyzing tools. Environmental issues such as: water pollution, phytoplankton bloom, sediment transport, water balance, ocean surface topography as well as marine animal’s mortality due to anoxia can be address by using ESPOSS. ESPOSS platform can also be tailored for any area of interest: ocean, lake, river or land.

The experience of developing ESPOSS was used by TERRASIGNA in relation to implementation of the Thematic Exploitation Platforms – Coastal (C-TEP). C-TEP is an online service, funded by ESA, which will provide access to an extensive archive of over 20 years of EO data, near-real-time (NRT) satellite data streams, in-situ measurements, and the tools necessary to process and extract information from said data.

Coastal fields of study, such as climate change, economic development, habitat classification and coastal research, can be addressed by users of the C-TEP through a cloud-based workspace. Common problems like managing huge amount of data, access to data or data availability are thus solved and a collaborative environment among users is promoted.