On Monday 19 June 2017, at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Leonardo announced the signing of an agreement between e-GEOS and the US-based company Orbital Insight to provide revolutionary satellite services. The partnership will see the convergence of Space technologies and big data analytics to provide radically new products and services for numerous applications including emergency management, precision agriculture, environmental monitoring and safety.
With the support of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the collaboration between the two companies will allow cloud computing solutions and innovative machine learning/artificial intelligence techniques developed by Orbital Insight to be used to analyse high-resolution satellite images. The images, which e-GEOS acquires from the COSMO-SkyMed Earth observation satellite system and processes, can also be supplemented with data from other information sources.
To give an example, satellite radar images could be used to help generate a comprehensive picture of an area’s economic activity and urban development. By combining different strands of information, such as the income and consumption levels of the people that live there and the intensity of agricultural activities, it is possible to produce ‘poverty maps’ to help decision makers define support or growth policies. The use of Space imagery means that this kind of information can even be provided in regions which, due to a lack of funds to carry out ad hoc surveys or due to current conflicts, have little usable official data available.
“Space already provides an unimaginable quantity of information for a multitude of uses; the real challenge is working out how best to use it”, said Luigi Pasquali, Director of Leonardo’s Space Sector and CEO of Telespazio (a 67-33% joint venture between Leonardo and Thales). “The most sophisticated big data analytics solutions today come from the commercial sector, which are making it possible to manage and process the huge amount of information generated every day by space sensors, by a wide variety of data-gathering platforms and by industry, government organizations and citizens. Our partnership with Orbital Insight will combine our extensive experience in the processing of satellite data with these innovative new techniques, allowing us to offer new services and applications”.
“Our mission is to bring transparency to global socio-economic trends, and to do that, we need as much imagery to analyze as possible,” said Dr. James Crawford, founder and CEO of Orbital Insight. “SAR imagery greatly increases our capabilities by allowing us to track changes on the ground even through cloud cover or at night.”
“This agreement with Orbital Insight, a leading geospatial analytics company, confirms that SAR data is an integral component of satellite datasets,” said Massimo Claudio Comparini, CEO of e-GEOS and Director of Geoinformation Line of Business of Telespazio. “We are excited to work in this new field with Orbital Insight, following our development strategy in digital space transformation based on the analysis and integration of data that’s globally acquired.”