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R.N.I No - UPENG/2010/34153 Registration no: UP/GBD-136/2011-13 YOUR GEOSPATIAL INDUSTRY MAGAZINE JANUARY 2012 VOL 02 ISSUE 06

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Advisory Board


Satellite Based Commercial EO Industry

Abbas Rajabifard President, GSDI Association

Time to get down to business

Aida Opoku Mensah Director - ICT Division UN Economic Commission for Africa

Bhanu Rekha

Bryn Fosburgh Vice President Trimble Derek Clarke Chief Director-Survey and Mapping & National Geospatial Information Department of Rural Development & Land Reform, South Africa

Jack Dangermond President, Esri


Geospatial ecosystem Growth is the best policy

Josef Strobl Director, Centre for Geoinformatics, University of Salzburg, Austria

Prof Ian Dowman, Editor - Europe


Juergen Dold President, Hexagon Geosystems

Technology Trends Keeping an eye on the planet

Kamal K Singh Chairman and CEO Rolta Group

Prof. Arup Dasgupta, Managing Editor 46

Applications Here, there, everywhere

Mark Reichardt President and CEO Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.

Dr. Hrishikesh Samant, Sr. Associate Editor (Honorary) Matthew M O'Connell President and CEO GeoEye


Preetha Pulusani Chairman and CEO DeepTarget Inc.


Shailesh Nayak Secretary Ministry of Earth Sciences Government of India

Matt O'Connell CEO, President and Director, GeoEye

“Extracting information from imagery is the future” 07 Editorial

54 News and Newsmakers 2011

CHAIRMAN M P Narayanan PUBLISHER Sanjay Kumar PUBLICATIONS TEAM Managing Editor Prof. Arup Dasgupta Editor - Europe Prof. Ian Dowman Editor - Latin America (Honorary) Tania Maria Sausen Sr. Associate Editor (Honorary) Dr. Hrishikesh Samant Executive Editor Bhanu Rekha Product Manager Shivani Lal Assistant Editors Deepali Roy, Aditi Bhan, Vaibhav Arora Sub-Editor Anand Kashyap DESIGN TEAM Sr. Creative Designer Deepak Kumar Graphic Designer Manoj Kumar Singh CIRCULATION TEAM Circulation Manager Vijay Kumar Singh


Vanessa Lawrence CB Director General and CEO, Ordnance Survey, UK


Geospatial World does not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed in the publication. All views expressed in this issue are those of the contributors. Geospatial World is not responsible for any loss to anyone due to the information provided.



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Geospatial World I January 2012




Earth Observation - A story of tech marvel and unkept promise n April 1, 1960 NASA launched TIROS 1, a 150 kilogram, experimental satellite with two vidicon cameras to image the earth at a resolution of 320 metre. On January 8, 2012 China launched Ziyuan 3, a 2650 kilogram satellite with three CCD cameras imaging the earth in stereo at 2.5 metre resolution. Between these two events is a story of a technology that has taken the world by storm and yet has not quite achieved its promise.


Today earth observation programmes are there in almost every country. A whole industry has sprung up for the manufacture and launching of satellites, data acquisition, data processing, distribution and value addition. The US pioneered the privatisation of earth observation systems and was closely followed by Canada, France and Germany. Other countries like India, China and Russia kept it under the government. The UN debated and evolved a policy on the principles of remote sensing. Every country with a space programme evolved their data policies. Google came out with its game-changing Google Earth which put earth observation data in the hands of the common person. In the area of science, particularly meteorology, environment and oceanography, the success is very high. While funding for these programmes are fully governmental and they suffer from a lack of priority, yet the utilisation and benefits are enormous. Areas of public good such as disaster management are now critically dependent on earth observation systems. In spite of such a vibrant scenario, there are troubling issues. The market remains largely with the government and the defence establishments. Earth observation data cannot stand alone. It has Prof. Arup Dasgupta Managing Editor to be part of a data ensemble for practical applications. While some industries are specialising in creating such ensembles, by and large remotely sensed data seems to revel in its unique identity. The promise of commercial adoption for mapping has not been realised. Privatisation thus is restricted to large government contracts. Perhaps this has led to complacency among the players and not enough has been done to create more clients in the civilian industry. The time has come for the earth observation industry to take a closer look at itself. In particular it has to find out why it remains the preserve of governments. Short term quick fixes are not the answer. It requires some out of the box thinking.

Geospatial World I January 2012



Geospatial information and technology have great potential to be a public commodity and a panacea to the larger challenges facing global economic and social well-being. It therefore becomes imperative to have enabling, market –oriented policy frameworks in place to give impetus to the geospatial ecosystem. Here’s a look at some government policies across the world and their impact on the utility of geospatial technology


Geospatial World I January 2012

t is widely recognised that geospatial data has a very important role to play in governmental and commercial activities today. But how does geospatial data fit into a commercial model? A great deal of geospatial data has been collected by governments using taxpayers' money. Users therefore do not think it fair that they should pay a second time to buy data. Much of the high resolution satellite data has been collected with subsidies from governments, through defence contracts or by government subsidies to the space industry designed to boost development of high technology. Then there are government restrictions on data sales and regional directives that regulate the structure and use of geospatial data. All these factors lead to a complicated market for geospatial data. This article will try to unravel some of these complications and suggest ways forward.


the restriction on their use in certain countries. With the introduction of computers and digitisation of data, the picture changed rapidly. Not only did existing maps become available in digital form, data was collected digitally and the importance of location in information analysis gained significance. Today, we have reached a situation where location information is both easily available, through GNSS in mobile communication devices, and is highly desirable for many services. But the restrictions, both historic and those created due to commercial and defence interests, and by the need to transfer data easily, multiplied.

HISTORY OF GEOSPATIAL DATA An appropriate starting point to understand these issues is to look at the hisFigure 1: Factors affecting the use of geospatial data in a country tory of geospatial data in modern times. In 1950, geospatial data was synonymous with paper map. Maps A further aspect of this equation is that the production were compiled and updated using ground and aerial surof geospatial data tends to be technology led. One reason veying. Broadly speaking, maps at scales of 1:5000 and for the widespread public interest in location is because smaller were made and updated by national mapping of its ability to provide positional information. GNSS organisations (NMOs), while maps of larger scales were provides position. Microchip technology provides the created for specific purposes, often engineering projects, means to receive the data in a car or a mobile device, so by commercial companies. In addition, cadastral plans for the public wants to use this new resource. While this recording land ownership were collected by land registry augurs well for the sale of satellite navigation devices and offices, which in some cases would be the same organisamobile phones, if people do not find benefits of this tion responsible for topographic mapping. NMOs provided resource, they do not follow up and purchase updated their maps to the government, often for defence purposes information. The industry still has to find the 'killer app' and sold them to the public. The link between civilian for the public at large. mapping and military mapping led to some restrictions on Certain countries have adopted the technology more civilian use of maps. Even today, large scale maps and quickly than others. The legislative approach of governaerial photographs are not available to the public in many ments of these countries in bringing market-oriented countries. As the resolution of images increased, so did policies and enabling the users to capitalise on such a

Geospatial World I January 2012


Digital data and maps: Changing the scenario

versatile technology is the major reason for the growth. Geospatial technology and information has great potential to be a public commodity and a panacea to the larger challenges facing global economic and social well-being. However, this requires the right policy framework, such as the promotion of other technologies including telecommunication, broadband and the internet, to unlock its potential. It therefore becomes imperative to look at the government policies and how they aid or hamper the growth of uptake of geospatial technology. Figure 1 summarises the current situation.

PRICE Let us first establish the difference between price, cost and value. The price of a commodity is the amount the buyer spends to purchase it, cost is the amount spent to produce it and value is what the buyer believes the product or service is worth to them. Clearly, price, cost and value are not the same and it would be fair to say that the price which a government puts on anything is unlikely to be related to its cost. A buyer is interested only in the price


and value. In the case of, say, a LiDAR survey of an urban area carried out by a commercial company, the price will be the cost of the survey plus a profit for the company. The buyer decides whether this is good value. The profit to the company will be less if there is strong competition in bidding for the work. The price of a high resolution satellite image though is likely to be much less than the real cost of producing it. This is because the cost of developing and building the satellite may not be factored in as it has been covered by the government and the government may have a standing order for the data which effectively covers the cost, leaving the general public to only pay a marginal cost. A buyer would not be able to afford the image if the total cost was included. The market therefore is distorted. This is because the high resolution satellite remote sensing industry is primarily driven by defence and intelligence agencies. Most of these agencies have invested to support the birth of commercial satellite companies. For instance, private companies GeoEye and Astrium have been funded by their respective governments. However, DigitalGlobe, which started as a bonafide private company without any

Geospatial World I January 2012

funding from the government, ended up with defence as its prime market. These companies are controlled by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to an extent that it provides indirect leadership and direction. There is a strong argument that data produced with public money, i.e. by an NMO, should be free. The oppos-

Table 1: Constraints in establishing SDIs

Technical Semantic interoperability Exchange formats of geodata limit the exchange of data among different organisations Different software systems Transmitting large geospatial datasets and poor quality of electric power

Pricing wars Data produced with public money (by NMOs) should be free


Keeping data up-to-date, adding value and introducing new technologies costs money which should be borne by the customer

Sometimes government bodies on different levels produce similar reference data with different specifications according to their own needs, which influences the budget that is available in a country

Financial High cost of creating good quality spatial data Cost of maintaining data types and ability to adapt to changing user requirements.due to technical and financial processes Ring-fenced funding which limits transfer across departments

ing argument however is that keeping the data up-to-date and adding value comes at a certain cost which should be borne by the customer. The introduction of new technologies, such as open source or the cloud, too would involve additional cost. In many current NMO business models, the industry has a big role to play. Private companies suffer if NMOs have a monopoly on sales of this data. Producers of value-added products would be at a competitive disadvantage in absence of clear policies or uniform practices to guide them on access to and reuse of public sector information. Some NMOs have sought to overcome this issue by establishing partnerships with the industry. Ordnance Survey in UK, for example, has over 200 partnerships. The businesses range from global giants to single entrepreneurs, but all use location data to create business opportunities. Business models of NMOs vary enormously: in Europe for example, cost recovery amongst NMOs varies from 0 to 100%. In the United States, public private partnerships (PPP) are widely used and offer significant cost benefits. Kumar Navulur, Director Next Gen Products, DigitalGlobe informs that the company has such a partnership. He further adds that the private industry designs, builds and launches the satellite and the government uses mechanisms such as NextView and EnhancedView contracts to supplement and complement their imagery needs.

E-GOVERNANCE Electronic governance (e-governance) refers to the use of information technology and the internet to improve the effectiveness of communication within government and between government and citizens. In the geospatial arena,


Institutional and cultural Lack of knowledge of the power of spatial data No open knowledge of available geospatial datasets Institutions continue to operate in silos with little or no cooperation or communication among key stakeholders Institutional and individual protectiveness/jealousy Lack of knowledge of use of geospatial information Lack of mandated authority to act and identification of champions Lack of long-term commitment to building a community of cooperation and trust Lack of geospatial information that meets the requirements of users

Administrative Cost sharing issues and issues of legal responsibility and national security Lack of clear policies and means to monitor compliance Issues of privacy; security and intellectual property

this implies a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) to facilitate the exchange and use of geospatial data. A major advantage of a government-wide SDI is that it makes users aware of the power of location and can therefore increase the need for geospatial data. Heads of NMOs in Europe observe that a major benefit of INSPIRE is the increased collaboration between government departments and agencies and raised awareness amongst politicians in general about the importance of geospatial data. Indonesia has a National SDI Development project which links not only government departments but also the private sector and local governments, with participation from more than 500 nodal agencies. The government departments include the national surveying agency BIG (formerly BAKOSURTANAL), National Land Agency, National

Geospatial World I January 2012

Abbas Rajabifard President, GSDI Society

Aeronautics and Aerospace Institute and the Ministries of Forestry, Public Works, Transport, Agriculture, Marine and Fisheries. Absence of an SDI would lead to lack of awareness about the importance of geospatial data, implying that politicians are less likely to put resources into the acquisition and management of spatial data. The 12th GSDI Conference in Singapore in 2010 witnessed discussions on SDIs and on the limitations to their development. Table 1 summarises some of the constraints in establishing SDIs. Many of these issues can be resolved with simple rules to control access to the information as required by local laws and policies. The cultural issues need to be dealt with through education. Users and politicians too need to be educated and be demonstrated that in a networked environment, everyone's data quality tends to improve if there are mutual internal feedbacks. According to Abbas Rajabifard, President, GSDI Society, developing a successful SDI depends as much upon issues such as political support, clarifying the business objectives of the SDI, sustaining a culture of sharing, maintaining reliable financial support and enlisting the cooperation of all members of the community, as upon technical issues relating to spatial data access, networking and standards. Therefore, developing a successful SDI within a jurisdictional level must be seen as a socio-technical, rather than a purely technical exercise. Clare Hadley, INSPIRE Delivery and UK Location Programme Alignment Manager, Ordnance Survey acknowledges that having a legal requirement to implement INSPIRE is a strong lever to achieving the data and service interoperability which the geospatial community has long wanted and which in the UK is encapsulated in the UK Location Strategy.

LEGISLATIVE CONSTRAINTS NMOs are regulated by governments and as shown earlier, their operations are constrained by the government.

Geospatial World I January 2012

There are also other legislative constraints. Privacy is one such constraint and the use of maps and images may be restricted in some countries, as Google has found. Both the free availability of satellite images and Street View images on the internet have been contested in courts in several countries but Google has a policy of protecting individual’s privacy where people are concerned. These constraints do not seriously affect the use of the data however. There are also privacy issues in the use of cadastral data. In some countries, information on properties is available on the internet while in others, the same information is considered as a breach of privacy laws.

INFRASTRUCTURE FOR SOCIETAL BENEFITS Governments often have a policy to support industry and private commerce in their country. Examples of this are high technology activities such as telecommunication and energy generation and transmission. These technologies, once established, are available to society at large to

Courtesy: Medroc

“Developing a successful SDI within a jurisdictional level must be seen as a socio-technical, rather than a purely technical exercise.”\

Governments have a responsibility to provide essential services to its citizens. For example, in-caar vehicle navigation for emergency services enables ambulances to reach their destination as quicklyy as possible


enable citizens and businesses to work efficiently. The government has a responsibility to provide essential services to its citizens and governments want to do this as efficiently as possible and at a minimum cost. For example, in-car vehicle navigation for emergency services enables ambulances and fire engines to get to where they are needed as quickly as possible. Greater accuracy in GNSS, brought about by augmentation systems like European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), reduces errors and benefits society. Having recognised the need for GNSS, governments look for means to recover some of the cost and road use taxation becomes one such option. Similar technology can be used by insurance companies to tailor car insurance prices to vehicle usage. Governments also need to be prepared for disasters, implying requirement of high technology communications and access to satellite data for emergency response centres. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is a national agency of the Government of India. It provides ocean information and advisory services to the society, industry, government and scientific community through sustained ocean observation and constant improvements through systematic and focussed research. It also houses the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre. Co-location of these services not only provides an essential service but also offers benefits including weather forecasts, sea surface state and potential fishing zones which benefit society in general as well as fishermen. Thus we have a situation where the government sets up an infrastructure to provide services to society, which is available for commercial use, but what is the pricing model?


Geospatial initiatives Global > Global Geospatial Information Management: A United Nations initiative for development of global geospatial information and to promote its use in addressing key global challenges > Group on Earth Observations (GEO): Works to establish international frameworks to make the use of geospatial data more efficient and benefitting the society

National > Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI): National level initiative by various countries to facilitate the exchange and use of geospatial data

Regional (Europe) > European Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe: Aimed to make the best use of ICT to speed up economic recovery and lay the foundations for a sustainable digital future > Galileo: An initiative by the European Union (EU) to provide location data to government, businesses and individuals. > Global Monitoring for Environment & Security (GMES): Another EU activity which produces geospatial data, specifically as a service to society

REGIONAL AND GLOBAL INITIATIVES The influences at the national level, discussed above, can be extrapolated to both regional and international levels. A prime example of this is the European Union (EU). The European Commission has an action plan for growth in Europe, known as Digital Agenda for Europe, to make the best use of information and communication technology (ICT) to speed up economic recovery and lay the foundations for a sustainable digital future. Although not specifically targeted at geospatial data, this is required for infrastructure development. This can benefit the geospatial arena as the INSPIRE directive, for instance, requires the establishment of an infrastructure for spatial information and the Directive on Public Access to Environmental Information obliges public authorities to provide timely access to environmental information. Galileo is another initiative by the EU which will provide location data to government, businesses and individuals. During the development of Galileo, it became very difficult to find a business model for it and in the end, the EU was left to fund the system. The benefits of Galileo will be considerable but the price of data will be set by the EU, not by commercial considerations. Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) is another EU activity which produces geospatial

Geospatial World I January 2012

data, specifically as a service to society. Future funding and the policy for access to the data are uncertain at the present. EU policies also feed down to national and regional levels. Germany and The Netherlands, for example, have a mandate for local authorities to provide information online to citizens. There are other influences on government which are not mandatory. International organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) work to establish international frameworks which will make the use of geospatial data more efficient and in particular, benefit the society. The UN Regional Cartographic Conferences have brought together NMOs and other agencies and societies to encourage exchange of information and collaboration. Recently, the High Level Forum on UN Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) has been set up to coordinate use of geospatial information among various nations. GEO does the same for earth observation data. These bodies influence the government but action is only on a best effort basis. In order to justify participation in these initiatives, governments need to either demonstrate some returns to their citizens or these activities should contribute towards meeting policy objectives. JosĂŠ Achache, Director, GEO Secretariat says: 'I think there is only one way to create awareness and that is to demonstrate what you can do. So we are really focussing on developing and demonstrating capabilities rather than selling and over-selling space and saying we can do this and we can do that.' He cites the case of monitoring of forests which started with six participants but others quickly joined in when they became

“Companies working in commercial markets do not see a lot of contacts or activities from public sector committees.� Geoff Sawyer Secretary General, European Association of Remote Sensing Companies

aware of the potential of the technique. On the other hand, Geoff Sawyer, Secretary General, European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) observes that the role of GEO is to co-ordinate governmental interests and that governments have a strong stake in earth observation. He also adds that companies working in commercial markets do not see a lot of contacts or activities from public sector committees and so do not play a strong role in GEO.

THE POWER OF CITIZENS A recent development has been crowdsourcing, or volunteered geographic information (VGI). The best known example is OpenStreetMap, where volunteers provide geospatial information which can be accessed by anybody, free of charge. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but what is certain is that it will affect the market by providing free data which will compete with NMO products. At present, there are no known instances of any legislation related to the use of VGI but DJ Coleman and colleagues argue that legislation is necessary 'to recognise to account for and balance the rights of both the producing community and the mapping organisations.'


Crowdsourcing will provide free data which will compete with NMO products

Geospatial World I January 2012

We have demonstrated that the geospatial market is complicated and not subject to the commercial imperative of supply and demand. In many areas, the role of the government is crucial both in promoting the use of geospatial data and in being the main buyer of the data. We have seen that INSPIRE in Europe has increased collaboration between government departments and agencies and raised awareness amongst politicians in general about the importance of geospatial data. In regions such as Africa, there is a crucial need to raise awareness amongst politicians so that more resources can be put into spatial data infrastructure. A major challenge is how to develop the market. 80% revenues of the main companies come from


Innovations, such as treating data as a service, can reduce production costs and at the same time en nhance sales because then the price can be set to the volume of data used or some other such measurre defence, 15% from civil government and a mere 5% from commercial consumers. This ratio of income source does not encourage development of the commercial market and there is also a great risk in being dependent on a single source of income. The problem lies in treating data as a commodity and not as a service. Innovations, such as treating data as a service, can reduce production costs and at the same time enhance sales because then the price can be set to the volume of data used or some other such measure. Also it reduces the cost of holding data as far as the user is concerned. The problem in such a scenario is that the companies are dependent on government support and a change in policy could mean the end of the company. A further problem is the supply of lower resolution data because there is only a small market for such data. The need for lower resolution satellites with better re-visit is essential for applications such as agriculture. Data for environmental monitoring is not commercial, but

is still essential in instances like climate studies and forest monitoring. We have seen the long process in the US to finance a follow up on Landsat, demonstrating that satellites for this type of data can only be financed by government. RapidEye and DMCii appear to be successful in this market, but it is still early days for these companies. Way forward It is clear that government is the key player in the market for geospatial data. It is only in customised surveys for specific projects that a free market operates and even then, the government generated data may be used. However, there is no comprehensive information on which model is the most efficient and even if such information did exist, one model would not fit all, taking into account historical influences and the current state of development. There is a need for more information on the models used by NMOs and analysis on how these can be transferred to other organisations. There is also a need to expand the commercial market for satellite imagery. This can be achieved partly by educating politicians about developing infrastructure using geospatial data, but also enhancing the role of commercial operating companies. Prof Ian Dowman, Editor - Europe,

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Satellite Based Commercial EO Industry

Time to get down to b Born out of the sheer need for superior high resolution earth observation (EO) data at the turn of the millennium, satellite based commercial EO industry has gained significant ground supported by im mproved technology, increased global coverage and reduced government restrictions on data availabiliity and sale. However a decade after its inception, the industry continues to be state controlled an nd lacks the vision to organise itself as a market-driven industry thereby limiting its potential an nd reach. Geospatial World explores the dynamics of commercial EO industry in the backdrop of unsettling economic scenario and the way forward... 20

Geospatial World I January 2012

o business GENESIS AND EVOLUTION Satellite based earth observation (EO), traditionally driven by national governments, found its footing commercially with the launch of IKONOS, world's first high resolution earth observation satellite, in September 1999 by Space Imaging. This launch was preceded by US policy shift and reports predicting rapid market adoption for

Geospatial World I January 2012

Ear t h Obser v ation

high resolution satellite imagery with significant short and long term growth. Soon, DigitalGlobe launched QuickBird in October 2001. Space Imaging was acquired by ORBIMAGE in September 2005 and was later renamed as GeoEye. It further launched GeoEye-1 in 2008 capable of providing sub-metre resolution imagery. After QuickBird, DigitalGlobe announced plans to build two nextgeneration, high-resolution imagery satellites, WorldView-1 and WorldView-2, launched in September 2007 and October 2009 respectively. The companies grew internationally, driven by the need for high resolution EO data within the US and around the world. However, the industry had difficulty proving its untested business models to non-defence civil agencies, state and local governments and the private sector. While the defence and intelligence community had a long heritage of using satellite imagery, the integration of a new technology into commercial markets took longer than anticipated. The US government backed the industry with 'buy commercial first' data policy allowing the two operators (DigitalGlobe and GeoEye) to emerge as market leaders for commercial EO data. Close on heels in Canada, Radarsat-2, a follow-on to Radarsat-1 by MDA, was launched in 2007 to serve the world with SAR imagery. The trend of commercial EO satellites started in Europe with Spot Image (now a subsidiary of EADS Astrium), which operates SPOT series of EO satellites. RapidEye started a new trend with a constellation of five EO satellites in 2008. Taking full advantage of the fully-integrated combined resources of its Spot Image and Infoterra subsidiaries, Astrium Services' GEO-Information division is providing EO products and services with exclusive access to SPOT, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. The recently launched PlĂŠiades 1A (first in the proposed constellation of four satellites along with PlĂŠiades 1B, SPOT-6 &7) will put Astrium Services into the very high resolution club. Technology played an important role in the development of commercial EO satellites, in particular the advances in optical and radar sensors made the development of smaller, cheaper and more agile satellites possible. Increased global coverage and reduced government restrictions on data availability and sale are increasing the appeal of satellite imagery in the private sector. Let us take a peek into how ingenious commercial EO satellite operators are getting in serving their customers and the changing dynamics of the industry in the face of stiff competition and unstable economic scenario.


PRODUCTS OVER PIXELS With awareness and utility of EO data touching sophisticated levels, satellite operators are inching to go beyond simply gathering pixels. Operators are adding value to the imagery, fusing data from different sensors, processing imagery on the fly, decreasing turnaround times, educating the users and providing a host of other services. Matt O'Connell, CEO, President and Director, GeoEye says, "We blend imagery from different sensors and different sources to create complex value added products. We call this multi-source imagery fusion. In December 2010, we bought a company which is now called GeoEye Analytics. With this acquisition, we equipped ourselves with predictive geospatial analytics capabilities. Users want on-demand delivery of geospatial information, when they need it, where they need it and we have been doing this with our EyeQ platform." With increasing number of sensors in space, there is a glut of EO data. With this, the onus is now shifting on to the commercial industry to educate the user on the utility of the data while simultaneously ensuring to keep the costs of storage low. Dr Kumar Navulur, Director-Next Gen Products, DigitalGlobe says, "We launched 8-band imagery. To make the user find value in using this imagery, we are developing products for bathymetry,

GeoEye blends imagery from different sensors and different sources to create complex value added products. We call this multi-source imagery fusion - Matt O’Connell CEO, President and Director, GeoEye


change detection, land use/land cover etc. For the end users the idea would be to figure out what they are doing and we try to give them the answers rather than just throwing pixels. If you use a standard GIS software, you can actually ingest data automatically."

DATA DISTRIBUTION/ DELIVERY MODELS One significant factor supporting the distribution and delivery of data is speed of processing. Thanks to 3D gaming, graphic processing technology is catching up well. "We are gaining between 400x - 800x speeds by using graphic cards. The idea is one can either preprocess the data or process it on the fly. With the new technology, one can do both," informs Kumar. Another important model evolving is delivering data without the need for users to invest in expensive IT infrastructure. Cloud computing is proving to be a wonderful and cost-effective solution and companies are working on technologies for hosting and disseminating data to the end user very quickly using the cloud. However, Matt points out that for the government user, the added confidentiality and security of direct uplink and downlink is often very important. "While cloud offers so many advantages in terms of speed, economy and agility, one challenge of increasing importance in Web delivery is security and we are working together to figure out secure ways for effective data distribution through cloud," he adds. Earlier, it used to be weeks before a user could see the data from the time a satellite collected it. But now, satellite operators like DigitalGlobe are targeting to deliver data within minutes after collection. "We developed applications that can bring imagery on to an iphone or an ipad so that mobile users can get data within minutes or an hour after collection," apprises Kumar.

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DATA CONTINUITY EO data is a valuable resource for global change research and applications like agriculture, forestry, regional planning and environmental monitoring. Several UN and World Bank funded projects seek the continuous provision of EO data for long-term projects. The US' Landsat has the longest record of continuously monitoring the changes in earth's surface at medium resolution for close to 40 years now. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) will provide continuity to Landsat dataset with moderate resolution (15m-100m) data and is scheduled to be operational in 2013. The European GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is another ambitious initiative scheduled to be operational from 2014 promising information continuity. However, all such long-term initiatives in EO space are government driven. Commercial players are unable to make such long term plans feels Geoff Sawyer. "The lack of confidence in long term availability of data is one of the barriers to growth in the sector," he opines. But differing with this argument Kumar underscores that commercial EO industry is in the business for long term, "We are a commercial business. We can't just say that we would be around for 4-5 years. You are buying an electronic product and if you don't know whether the company would be around for the next five years, why would you buy it?" The commercial EO industry vouches that it is investing billions of dollars so that customers have assured data over the long term. GeoEye2 is on track for launch in March 2013 and Matt informs that once it is operational, the company will start working on GeoEye3. DigitalGlobe too has its plans afoot. WorldView 3 is planned for 2014 and the company is already thinking about WorldView4 while also opening up to options other than electro-optical sensors. "WorldView 3 will serve for about 10 years and so we are ensured of continuity till about 2024 already," assures Kumar. Bringing in the concept of 'shared mission' to ensure

DigitalGlobe developed applications that can bring imagery on to an iphone or an ipad so that mobile users can get data within minutes or an hour after collection - Dr Kumar Navulur Director-Next Gen Products, DigitalGlobe

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Figure 1: Value chain in satellite based commercial EO (estimates in billions of USD for 2010). Courtesy: Euroconsult

data continuity, Matt says, "There ought to be a shared mission where USA, Europe, India and any other nation build a satellite each and that mission should circle the globe. Each satellite might last for 6-7 years and then it goes from Americas over to Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia and then America would come around again. In the backdrop of difficult financial situation, collaboration is the way forward." The last decade of 20th century has seen a number of satellite failures. However, in the last 8-10 years, EO satellite technology has proven itself beyond doubt by removing all technological hitches and the launch success since 1999/2000 is as high as 99 percent. With advanced technology, mature market and improved delivery, companies are lining up next-generation satellites.

GOVERNMENT VS PRIVATE USE In the 10th year of commercialisation, there are less than 10 companies primarily marketing high resolution EO data directly to end-users and/or through data resellers or value-added services (VAS) providers. A dominant majority of data produced by commercial EO companies is consumed by defence agencies and there is a visible wedge between government and commercial applications. 2010 marked a peak in EO spending and number of launches with civil EO spending prominent for leading governments. Euroconsult estimated the size of the commercial EO data market to be USD 1.3 billion in 2010 (Figurer 1) which is expected to approach USD 4 billion by 2020. This


is the result of more capable satellites, better ground systems and networks (data interpretation, dissemination and fusion) and more users' education and incentive. Of this, Euroconsult attributes 65% of sales to defence customers. The expected number of satellite launches in the next decade also indicates the continuity in this trend (Figure 2 & Table 1) where the government and military satellites will dominate the commercial EO satellites. Discussing the European situation, Stephen Coulson, Head of Industry Section, Science and Applications Department, European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) of European Space Agency (ESA) indicates that the trend is similar in European market as well. A study (2008) commissioned by ESA on 'The State and Health of the European and Canadian EO Service Industry' points out that the largest customer group for EO services is public sector operational entities. According to the report, "strong constraints are still reported in accessing new customers and this is confirmed by lack of growth in private sector customers (during 2003-2008)." Differing with this argument, Adam Keith, Director-Earth Observation, Euroconsult apprises that leading commercial EO operators have had some success in diversifying client bases over the years. For instance, both DigitalGlobe and GeoEye saw their revenues pertaining to commercial (includ-

Figure 3: Government Vs commercial (including non-US government and private) revenues in 2010. Courtesy: Euroconsult

ing non-US government and private industry) customers climb to 38% and 22%, respectively (Figure 3), Adam informs. Supporting the argument, Kumar informs, "DigitalGlobe is actively working with Google, Microsoft and other LBS partners. Government is a growth segment but LBS has grown significantly and are engaged with most of the players in the LBS." Adam also senses an opportunity for commercial players in this trend of dominant government spending (for defence and civil government). "There is still high potential for sales to international governments to support defence applications. Numerous governments have image intelligence requirements but high resolution imaging capacity remains the domain of just a few countries. More short-term revenue gains are likely to come from sales to such governments," he opines.


Figure 2: Spending (in million USD) at satellite launch date No. of satellites















(*) including multiple satellite constellations.

Table 1: Expected number of satellite launches in the next decade. Courtesy: Euroconsult


Despite significant progress, commercial EO data is still not exploited to its fullest potential owing to policy-related challenges faced by commercial operators. Each satellite operator has its own national regulatory regime and is subject to commercial policies that are often not harmonised with other operators. Achieving common licensing and distribution terms that can apply to multiple providers has proven complex. The processes and mechanisms required to order data from different satellites are not standardised, making it difficult for users to create and submit requests that meet their needs. Paulo Bezerra, Managing Director, MDA Geospatial Services Inc., recommends the establishment of a common framework to address these challenges. Speaking at the High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) under the aegis of United Nations,

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he suggests that the common framework should aim to harmonise the national satellite remote sensing regulatory regimes; harmonise commercial data policies; standardise data ordering protocols; standardise product formats and product delivery protocols. However to be successful, Paulo opines that the framework requires appropriate representation from governments, industry and large users to be successful and should be based on the experience accumulated in efforts such as the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

STRATEGIES FOR EMERGING MARKETS Commercial players are actively pursuing local markets, especially the emerging markets like Russia, China, India, Brazil, Africa, Middle East. In fact, BRIC is of primary interest to most of the commercial earth observation industry. A variety of strategies are being employed to capture the market. One smarter way for the global play-

Numerous govts have image intelligence requirements but high resolution imaging capacity is the domain of a few countries. More short-term revenue gains are likely to come from sales to such governments - Adam Keith Director-EO, Euroconsult

ers is working with local partners in all markets, who have the edge over them in local language, culture and have the local market intelligence. GeoEye is working through local partners and has a strong set of partnerships in Europe, Asia and Middle East. Over the years, it has nurtured strong partnerships and leveraged on individual strengths. "For instance, we work with a group called East-Dawn in China, a distribution and production company. In Russia, we work with ScanEx, which has ground stations and is also into production and distribution," briefs Matt. Another route companies are taking is by finding promising verticals and customers based on development parameters and estimating the market size before venturing into a particular country. "We will look

EO satellite manufacturers

Scaling new heights with tech innovation he requisite infrastructure for earth observation sector is built/ launched by about 30 companies worldwide. This excludes the government funded and built satellites. Major players in this segment include EADS Astrium, Ball Aerospace, Thales Alenia Space, Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). Owing to technology innovations in bus and instruments, satellite systems are getting increasingly capable with reduced cost trends. National security, technology transfer and economic concerns are increasingly prompting countries to have their own satellite systems driving business for the manufacturers. In the backdrop of slowing economic growth, companies are devising



cost-effective solutions and innovative business models. They are expanding but with caution to stay robust. One of the interesting activities in this direction in EO sector is the evolution of business models so far followed by geostationary communications satellites, where most operators lease their transponders on hourly, daily, monthly basis to suit the customers' needs. SSTL has proposed a constellation, initially of three EO satellites of 1m resolution, and offered that as leased service to make best use of the geographic distribution offered by the orbiting satellite. Speaking at the 3rd Symposium on Earth Observation Business, Sir Martin Sweeting, Chairman, SSTL, informs, "This arrangement minimises the capital expendi-

ture for those who wish to have the capacity but not necessarily own the whole satellite/constellation. We are pleased to sign the first customer who has leased 100% capacity of the first three satellites on the constellation. We look to add more satellites to the constellation of even sub-metre resolution in the due course." Cary W Ludtke, Vice President and General Manager, Ball Aerospace says the company is exploring several cost-effective solutions to meet the demand and one of them is employing distributed architectures, especially with constellation of earth observation satellites. This involves a number of advantages including the substitution of complex satellite systems with distributed (different) instruments of

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for the market size to be attractive enough to go after and not try to change. For example, people have chased agriculture, but at least to me, it appears that there is hardly any money in agriculture," argues Kumar. The trend in relaxation in policy environment dealing with EO data in these countries is also contributing positively to data uptake from commercial players. India has recently revised its policy governing remote sensing data and according to Kumar, "Policies like these will help more commercial businesses to come to India. Previously there were many restrictions, but now it is easy to do business in India for data over 1 m resolution." Distributors' take Regional distributors and resellers too are showing keen interest in working with global companies. For instance, Japanese Space Imaging Corporation (JSI) is pursuing the 3C strategy - Change , Challenge and Collaboration. Describing its strategy, Yoichi Kamiyama, CEO and President says, "Understanding the changes in the technology evolution, local market needs and policies, we are identi-

small satellite platforms making use of data fusion and increases time resolution and daily coverage depending on the number of satellites within a constellation. This also enables easy replacement of a satellite within a constellation or formation due to the relative low costs of a single satellite. As budgets pinch, it is imperative for companies to look for affordability while consolidating on performance. This is leading to innovation in technology. Companies are investing in improvements in diverse fields of technology including optics, mechanics and materials, electronics and data processing, simultaneously bringing business innovation. Companies like Astrium (Spot 6 and Spot 7) and Lockheed Martin are taking pioneering strides in this direction. The trend to move to smaller satellites is well supported by

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fying and working on the challenges and ably devising ways by collaborating appropriately with global/domestic companies, technology partners and governments." JSI is actively seeing public-private partnerships (PPP) as an effective mode for working towards success. On the basis of distribution and partner agreements with global operators, Russian company ScanEx has been distributing high and very-high resolution images acquired by IKONOS, GeyEye-1, QuickBird, WorldView1/2, KOMPSAT-2, FORMOSAT-2, RADARSAT-2, ALOS and TerraSAR-X satellites. It entered into definitive distribution agreements in 2011 with MDA for RADARSAT imagery and with GeoEye for IKONOS imagery. The scope of these new agreements underscore the international commercial market's increasing demand for high-resolution satellite imagery and services. PASCO became the first distribution partner of Infoterra GmbH for the TerraSAR-X radar data products in 2005. "PASCO has not only secured the exclusive distribution rights for the Japanese market as well as a substantial data contingent, but also the opportunity to

these technology improvements. These trends are visible in optical space borne systems as well as microwave systems like SAR, redefining the economics of space and increasing the tempo of space exploitation. Manufacturers are also eying low earth orbits as a cheaper option to launch EO satellites. Europe's Vega and India's workhorse PSLV are excellent examples in this category. At the component level, global supply chain is key to compa-

nies' operations. Says Ed Irvin, Vice President International of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, "We are working closely with our global supply chain to maximise the affordability and ensure mission success. To ensure business in the long run, we are working with universities. Our customers are looking for evolutionary role under a constrained financial environment. So, we are taking a disciplined approach in leveraging partnerships and concentrating on being relevant through innovation and performance." Collaboration is another buzzword in the satellite manufacturing industry. Experts opine that in the next 5-10 years the industry would witness lot more international collaborations as a means to cut costs and optimise data utilisation by standardisation of data obtained.


PASCO has secured the exclusive distribution rights for Japan and also the opportunity to receive TerraSAR-X data directly from the satellite since late 2006 as a Direct Access Partner - Youichi Sugimoto CEO & COO, PASCO Corporation

receive TerraSAR-X data directly from the satellite since late 2006 as a Direct Access Partner (DAP). PASCO also has nonexclusive data distribution rights globally case wise," informs Youichi Sugimoto, CEO & COO of PASCO Corporation. Today, PASCO distributes imagery of 14 commercial EO satellites.

MARKETING AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT As countries are moving to knowledge-based economies, a rapidly growing market for satellite imagery and related information analyses and value added products is emerging worldwide. However, there is a clear gap in exchange between space agencies, NMOs and commercial players. This evidently is putting a limitation on the usability of high resolution imagery and its reach and affordability. UN-GGIM is a recent initiative to bridge this gap. One might also want to ponder over the limited success of commercial EO operators to make satellite imagery a part of dayto-day life despite brilliant 'virtual earth' initiatives by companies like Google and Microsoft. With new and innovative imagery products, the onus is now shifting to commercial operators to educate the customers on the utility of their imagery beyond traditional applications. Companies are nurturing prospective verticals like LBS but beyond that, efforts in creating awareness and developing the market are far and few. This can be viewed as a challenge associated with a fledgling industry. Indicating the way forward, DigitalGlobe says that the ability of satellite operators to connect allows them to move the industry to the next phase. Customers are look-


ing for value out of data and information analysis and the ecosystem the industry needs to create with partners is one that can create value to the customers. Reposing faith in the dynamism of the sector, Geoff Sawyer underscores that this dynamism is the strength of the sector - encouraging and making it possible for new companies to find finance to develop their own businesses, to find their own business models rather than prescribing themselves to any one business model to move forward. There are large companies that are ready to support, to work with, or to buy out, smaller companies, and to give an exit to a business plan.

IMPACT OF ECONOMIC SCENARIO Today, commercial satellite EO industry is primarily driven by government defence and intelligence agencies. Most of these agencies have put in money to support the birth of commercial satellite companies. For instance companies like Geoeye and Astrium were funded by governments. DigitalGlobe started as a true private company without any funding from the US government, but ended up looking at defence as its prime market. GeoEye and DigitalGlobe are very much controlled by US DOD and the same has been providing indirect leadership and direction. The arrangement served very well for both sides until the going was good. 2010 saw NGA awarding contracts worth USD 7.3 billion to GeoEye and DigitalGlobe under its Enhanced View programme, promising a great future to the commercial EO industry. However, the unsettling economic environment in 2011 brought in several changes in the outlook of the patron government organisations and consequently the commercial players. NGA announced budget cuts to the proposed Enhanced View programme raising doubts and concerns over the sustainability of the involved commercial players. These issues relate primarily to the US operators; operators elsewhere are perhaps less influenced by one single customer, in this case the NGA. Touching on this issue, Adam Keith says, "If theoretically the US government changed its policy to support the commercial industry, and procurement from the NGA was significantly reduced, then yes this would clearly impact the US

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Publisher’s view... operators and the sizing of the commercial data market as a whole. However, the commercial sector existed before this support and it would still do so if it stopped. The market for commercial data would surely be reduced, but it should be recalled that the main global growth drivers last year, and moving forward are high-resolution commercial data sale to international governments and the emerging LBS market. Therefore long-term prospects would still remain positive." Cognizant of the implications of economic volatility, commercial EO operators are devising ways to stay buoyant. Matt O'Connell feels the environment will augur more and more sharing of imagery and sharing of revenue a la cellphone roaming charges. The industry is seeing a period of economic uncertainty that might slow it down for a year but Matt feels it is but inevitable that the industry will continue to grow because use of imagery makes every decision maker more efficient.

CONCLUSION By design satellite remote sensing has been more a national pride than a business and commercial players are unable to get out of the government mindset yet. The sector continues to largely remain state controlled and suffers from lack of commitment from governments to support it with enabling policies. However, the industry is quite optimistic over its prospects as it starts reaching out to new markets with latest imagery products, gets innovative in trying financial times and starts educating and training the customers. Bhanu Rekha Executive Editor,

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Act to be a viable market force here are several issues of concern with regard to satellite-based commercial earth observation industry today. Some commercial EO data companies have traditionally been conservative and have always looked at defence and civil governments as the major markets to cater to. At the same time, few enterprising EO companies have made efforts to stimulate commercial applications, but their efforts may at best be termed halfhearted. The slowing economic situation and the consequent budget cuts have drastically reduced the promised EO spending in defence sector. This has put a question mark over the financial viability of commercial EO companies which have banked on defence contracts for long. Their stock prices have plummeted, robbing investors' confidence and leaving the future of the industry in jeopardy. This doesn't make good business sense nor in any way secures the business needs of professionals who rely on earth observation data. It also leaves the future of many existing long-term projects in a limbo and reduces the confidence of commercial users. Not being exposed to hostile economic environment and market driven realities so far, commercial EO companies may find it challenging to explore new avenues and opportunities. One way out could be that defence agencies that have significant control over these companies can motivate security giants like Lockheed Martin to purchase these companies and continue to provide them satellite imagery. But such acquisitions may make the EO companies captive who may stop nurturing the commercial utility of


EO data. Poor prospects for commercial market may lead to entry barriers and denial of competition and alternative solutions for users, reducing further investments and innovation in the industry. Second situation could be wherein geospatial majors like Trimble, Hexagon and probably Esri may like to invest in these companies. This could augur well for the geospatial ecosystem as these companies are market driven, understand the value of imagery and can make significant contribution to drive EO industry and leverage on individual strengths to explore the commercial utility. The satellite based commercial EO industry may like to explore several other alternatives like entering into strategic partnerships with major companies catering to mainstream economic industries including energy, exploration, insurance, real estate, architecture and construction, telecommunications and navigation to develop into a robust, viable and market-driven industry. Having said this, it is appropriate to acknowledge that the commercial EO data has tremendous prospect in the long run and its true value as a tool to manage global resources remains to be harnessed. The commercial EO industry could be appropriately positioned to contribute in managing the same more effectively and appropriately. The commercial EO industry may be going through a challenging time at the moment, but it has adequate stake holding and potential in evolving into a self-stimulating, market-driven business story. - Sanjay Kumar



Keeping an eye on t h 32

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he technology of earth observation has seen many changes over the past few years with four major trends emerging. The first is the government-funded missions for earth observation, using a variety of sensors on large satellites which address mapping as well as scientific studies. The news, however, is dominated by the second trend consisting of commercial imaging satellites with sub-metre spatial resolution for land applications. The third is a shift away from big multi-sensor satellites towards small single-function satellites. The fourth trend is to use small satellites in constellations and swarms. Furthermore, these trends tend to overlap with each other. RapidEye is a commercial constellation of small satellites while Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) is government owned but operated by DMCii.



With technology advancements in sensors, payload weights and data processing, earth observation as a domain is transforming rapidly. And with its application expanding across the domains, the futture looks replete with opportunities. Here’s an exhaustive analysis of the technology trends... Image: GeoEye 2 Courtesy: Lockheed Martin

t he planet Geospatial World I January 2012

Large earth observation satellites are being supported by government agencies. India has its IRS series and is perhaps the only country to have such a large commitment to continuing government-funded earth observation satellites and application programmes. Apart from its workhorses, INSAT, RESOURCESAT and CARTOSAT, the Indian programme also involves the piggyback launching of small satellites from different countries and more recently nanosatellites like SRMSat and Jugnu from educational institutions. Joint programmes include Megha-Tropiques and SARAL, in collaboration with CNES, France. The recently launched Pleiades 1A is the first of a new generation satellites operated by Astrium Services. Pleiades 1A will be followed between 2012 and 2014 by SPOT 6, its twin Pleiades 1B and finally SPOT 7. Built around similar architecture and phased in the same orbit, the constellation of four satellites will ensure better responsiveness and availability of 50 cm to 2 m products through to 2023. Pleiades is a component of the ORFEO programme in which Italy is a partner with its COSMO-Skymed series of satellites. The US Landsat programme has ended with Landsat 7. NASA has launched the new millennium programme for next generation spacecraft. The first was EO-1, which, among other mission goals, was flown in constellation mode with Landsat 7. EO-1 mission has ended and the NMP has no other satellites planned. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM is expected to be launched in late 2012 and will carry two sensors, the operational land imager, OLI and the thermal infrared sensor, TIRS. NASA is also concentrating on their follow33




SanFrancisco as seen by Pleiades 1A


on to the EOS missions, the earth systematic missions (ESM) programme which will continue to advance understanding of the climate system and climate change. The ESM is a three-tiered programme. Apart from this, there are joint missions with NOAA for weather and climate studies. Europe has two major programmes, GMES and the Living Planet. The satellites are one off specific mission oriented satellites which form parts of the total programme. The Living Planet contains science and research elements which include the earth explorer missions and an earth watch element, which is designed to facilitate the delivery of earth observation data for use in operational services. Global monitoring for environment and security, GMES includes five sentinel satellites, each unique in its mission. Meteosat third generation satellites, in collaboration with EUMETSAT, will provide continuity of the Meteosat series of meteorological satellites. JosĂŠ Achache, Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat points out that "host payloads are a fantastic opportunity. It may be very difficult to handle because space agencies do not like that. They want to build their own satellites and they want to go for cutting edge technology and new developments. But this is an opportunity; it is going to be a new trend". MeghaTropiques is in fact an Indian bus with hosted payloads from India and France. Another interesting view of JosĂŠ Achache is that "Imagery from GEO will be interesting as


well because it provides a revisit time which is of the other minutes that gives an entirely different perspective on a number of highly viable processes". Matthew O'Connell feels that multiple satellite launches is also a good costcutting idea and points out that RapidEye constellation was launched this way. While the large satellites will continue to be launched, there is a trend towards smaller single mission satellites. At the 8th IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation held in April 2011 in Berlin, Germany, some of the key findings were summarised by Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman SSTL. In the next 5 to 10 years there will be more constellations of earth observation satellites like RapidEye. Satellites will get fractionated, i.e. each satellite will form a functional part of a total system. There may be separate satellites for different functions like imaging, processing, transmission, etc. These could be through sparse aperture arrays, reconfigurable systems, in orbit assembly of large structures and free-flying swarms. Such satellites create a greater opportunity for participation in space activities by smaller countries as the examples of NigeriaSat and SumbandilaSat have shown. The disaster management constellation is an example of multi-nation cooperation. The challenges are regular, timely and economical launches and a method of removal of space debris that pose a serious risk to small satellites. Matthew O'Connell, on the other hand, feels that small, single-sensor satellite constellations like RapidEye may be a great idea for coverage and such satellite/sensor combinations will grow but high resolution precision sensors will always be needed by users. The satellites are also shrinking in size. Small satellites or minisatellites fall in the range of 100 to 500 kg in weight. Satellites in the range of 10-100 kg are called microsatellites; one to 10 kg satellites are called nanosatellites and 100 gm to one kg are called picosatellites. While mini and micro satellites are now operational, nano and pico satellites are research areas. Mini and

Host payloads are a fantastic opportunity. It may be difficult to handle as space agencies do not like that. They want to build their own satellites and go for cutting edge technology. But this is an opportunity; it is going to be a new trend - Jose Achache, Director GEO Secretariat

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SENSORS There are a plethora of sensors but considering the imaging sensors alone there are three major ones. The first are the tried and tested CCD multispectral and panchromatic imaging sensors. Operational sensors have already reached 40 cm spatial resolution and this could be near the limit from space borne optical sensors, according to Martin Sweeting. Matthew O'Connell of GeoEye has the same view. The next generation GeoEye-2 will have a resolution of 0.33m. This could be stretched to 0.25m but beyond this it would call for significant design change. Kumar Navulur, Director, Next Gen Products, DigitalGlobe feels that design and orbit height, which has a significant effect on satellite life, will decide the resolution limit. According to him, 0.25m is realisable with the current technology. He also sees the number of bands increasing from four to 20 and beyond, which falls in the definition of hyperspectral sensors. The commercial WorldView 2 satellite of DigitalGlobe has an eight- band sensor. Sentinel 2 has a MSI sensor with 13 bands. NASA's OLI and TIRS data on board LDCM will provide 15m panchromatic and ten-band multispectral data, five 30m resolution in the optical range, three 30m resolution in the near IR and two 100m resolution in the thermal IR ranges. Matthew O'Connell, on the other hand,

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feels that more bands may only be of academic interest. Talking of radiometric resolution, Kumar Navulur says that 11 to 12 bit resolution is essential and will increase to about 16 bits but not beyond. Such resolution will compare to aerial sensors but satellite sensors will never replace aerial sensors. Another area is stereo coverage, which is achieved by fore and aft looking cameras or by using very agile satellites that can be repositioned to image areas at different angles to create stereo pairs. Agile satellites can also image small areas and also sweep large areas. Extreme oblique views, up to 40 to 50 degrees off nadir, are also gaining ground in some applications. Hypespectral sensors form the second group of sensors. Some are already available on several satellites like EO1 and Aster and will be available on most of the future imaging satellites. The third group of sensors are the synthetic aperture radar, SAR. All major government backed programmes have the SAR as a major component. There are several synthetic aperture radar satellites in orbit and more on the way. Two of these are ISRO's RISAT1 and ESA's Sentinel-1. RISAT (Radar Imaging Satellite)-1 is one of a series of Indian radar imaging reconnaissance satellites being built by ISRO to provide all-weather surveillance using synthetic aperture radars. The synthetic aperture radar onboard RISAT will have the ability to acquire data at C-band in different modes of polarisation, incidence angle and resolution. The Sentinel-1 mission has a C-band SAR instrument which provides three radar imaging modes with dual polarisation capability (HH-HV, VV-VH). Other Sensors Weather, environmental and other scientific satellites have a wide range of sensors. They include thermal scanners, optical and microwave radiometers, scatterometers and altimeters. Typical satellites are Sentinel 4 and 5 from ESA and NPOESS from NASA. While at the outset these might look like scientific missions of

Image: NPOESS satellite Courtesy: NOAA

micro satellites operate in constellations. They are controlled from the ground. Nano and pico satellites will form parts of satellite swarms which are autonomous in their control and may communicate through a 'master' satellite which could be a mini or micro satellite.


Satellite constellations: Covering serious ground Prior to 2009, no commercially available satellite system was able to provide very high temporal resolution with consistent radiometry at a competitive price. To address this issue, the RapidEye optical satellite system, which consisted of five identical satellites, was developed and launched. In the system's design phase, the agricultural industry was identified to have the highest market potential for improved earth observation (EO) imagery and related services. Consequently, the system was designed to meet the following parameters:

» Automated image processing for rapid delivery and quick turnaround within 24 to 48 hours. The biggest challenge for any optical satellite system is the desired minimal cloud coverage over an area of interest at any given time and the best way to overcome this principal problem is to increase revisit times, which in turn increase the opportunity to capture favourable weather conditions. The system, with five identical satellites and a wide swath width of 77 km, has five times

station contact per 90-minute orbit. In daily contacts with the control centre in Brandenburg, Germany, the satellites exchange technical status information, which is registered and analysed automatically. Every 30 to 90 days, each satellite must be adjusted back to its initial altitude by firing the onboard rocket engines. While the original design for the constellation was seven years, the onboard fuel tanks actually have enough capacity to maintain the 630 km altitude until 2017 or even longer. Imaging the earth with a fleet of five satellites requires additional effort in relation to sensor calibration. For the end user, the quality of an image from one satellite must be equal in quality to imagery from any of the other four. In order to maintain and guarantee identical imaging parameters, the system uses a number of calibration sites located in different parts of the world. These are imaged by all satellites regularly and the collected data is used for the calculation of calibration parameters. Such procedures ensure that the satellites are calibrated relatively to each other, while the spectral information itself is not distorted.

The RapidEye constellation of satellites

» Inclusion of a special red-edge-band for vegetation analysis in addition to 4 more radiometric bands for blue, green, red and near-infrared. » A high radiometric resolution of 12 bit for improved classification results. » A native ground sampling distance of 6.5m, orthorectified to 5m pixel size for all five spectral bands. » A very large imaging capacity of up to

more opportunity than a single satellite of the same specification. The satellites can also be pointed up to 20 degrees off-nadir. However, with more opportunities for nadir imaging, this lessens any terrain-induced geometric distortions in mountainous areas. However, the operation of a constellation of five identical satellites does not differ much from the operation of a single satellite, as these satellites too require just one ground

4.2 million sq km per day.

little use to practical resources management there are also surprises. José Achache points to the outcomes of the GRACE mission as an example. GRACE or gravity recovery and climate experiment was intended to primarily measure the earth's gravity field and its time variability with unprecedented accuracy, but it could also be used for looking at changing of the water table at small scale. Researchers using GRACE data found that there is an alarming depletion of groundwater in north-west India, largely comprising of Punjab and Haryana - a fact well known but not its extent, measure and potential for damage.


In comparison to single satellites, there are some advantages for constellations of multiple identical satellites like better imaging performance, resulting in fast coverage of large areas, especially important for cloudy areas and the system redundancy. The system is designed to counter emergencies and the programme can be fulfilled even if a satellite ceases to function. Dr. Rene Griesbach, RapidEye Germany Stefan Oeldenberger German GeoConsultants Group, Tunisia & Libya

DATA PROCESSING Earth observation has become an important source of data but it requires processing like geo-referencing and ortho-rectification before they can be integrated into a GIS database. Such pre-processing is largely done automatically today, the only exception being the generation of true ortho-imagery. GIS-ready ortho-imagery is available which typically provides a ninety percent circle of error (CE90%) of 4.8m. It does not come cheap and may cost anywhere up to USD 90 per sq km. GIS-ready imagery is available from many sources like TerraLook, a joint project of the USGS and the NASA jet propulsion laboratory (JPL).

Geospatial World I January 2012





There are many private companies that can Japan, can get the imagery through the produce customised datasets as per client Web and they have to be able to select only High resolution data is needs including integration with aerial data the imagery that they need. One thing that also high volume data. and other sources. GeoEye focussed on in the design of their Most data users are It would make sense to have critical service was letting people chip out just the aware of the hassles of features pre-extracted like transportation image they needed. So if they want to see storing petabytes of data. and drainage since it is only based on such the Fukushima nuclear plant, they need Even though modern data features that one can query a GIS. At the not have to download too much of data storage media have moment image classification, change because then the imagery is very large and extremely high capacities but the data deluge can detection and feature recognition are posit is hard to transmit. still overpower such sible through image processing tools. The DigitalGlobe solves the problem of capacities technology is looking at issues like 2D and data volume in three ways. First, scaling is 3D object extraction, including building used to reduce data volume by nearly 98 reconstruction and 3D city modelling. percent. Secondly, very fast processors Techniques being addressed are surface modelling and are used to do the pre-processing on the fly and thirdly, reconstruction, surveillance and change detection, learndata is stored on the Cloud. This enables users to get data ing and statistical methods for object extraction, automatwithin hours of acquisition on any device. There is also a ed sensor orientation and data fusion including informamove to extract layers like bathymetry, land cover, change tion from GIS, BIM or CAD. detection and providing the same as GIS-ready imagery. While these are great initiatives, it needs to be pointed SERVICES out that satellite data as a service for real-time data or High resolution data is also high volume data. Most data near-real time data is yet to be established. Real-time or users are aware of the hassles of storing petabytes of near real-time high or medium data, which is needed to data. Even though modern data storage media have address disasters, requires the setting up of an operaextremely high capacities but the data deluge can still tional system. The DMC constellation is one approach to overpower such capacities. Further, data once used address this need. Ultimately, a system which directly becomes a dead investment. Data as a service is a model downloads imagery to the end user will be required. This that is being explored to overcome such a situation. While exists for meteorologist and oceanographers but is not yet Google showed the way initially, there are a number of developed for land based applications. such data providers like Bing and also very comprehensive CONCLUSION sources which enable multiple dataset collection and The world of earth observation is dynamic and fast changanalysis like Eye on Earth by European Environment ing. Technology requires funds and end users. The utility AGency (EEA) and World Wind by NASA. India has its Bhuof space- based earth observation has been proved van, which is touted as India's reply to Google. China too beyond doubt but without proper downstream use of the has its own Google type service. information, the technology will remain underutilised. Matthew O'Connell wants to make it easy for nonPrivate players have cutting edge technologies at their technical people to access imagery, to manage imagery command which they have used to address niche markets and share imagery and for this GeoEye has developed a but have had problems in this market. The benefits of platform called EyeQ. That then ties into another aspect of earth observation often cannot always be valued in moneWeb distribution which is the Cloud. In fact, GeoEye is tary terms. Take for example the study on groundwater using the Cloud for an NGA initiated programme called the depletion quoted earlier using data from a government rapid dissemination of online geospatial information. sponsored satellite. It will be impossible to monetise this Every major military effort and every major disaster relief information but it will be foolhardy to ignore it because it is a coalition effort and imagery has to be shared rapidly. cannot be monetised. That requires two things, the imagery has to be unclassified and there must be effective and efficient Web distribuProf. Arup Dasgupta Managing Editor, tion so that disaster relief, whether it is in Haiti or in


Geospatial World I January 2012


Extracting information from imagery is the future What are the offerings of GeoEye at present and what else is in the pipeline?

what US does in this regard will be guided by what is going on in the foreign market. For instance, if other nations are pushing for higher resolutions then the US will also do that.

We have GeoEye 1 that was launched in 2008 and GeoEye 2, which is on track for launch in March 2013. We are spending over a billion Tell us about the changing user needs and GeoEye's strategy to dollars between GeoEye 1 and 2 so cater to those needs? that our customers can see an We have said for years that the assured source of data over the long industry has to evolve beyond simply term. GeoEye 2 will start selling gathering pixels. Our biggest investimagery in the fall of 2013 and once it ments are gathering more pixels and is up and operating, we will start having higher resolution and higher working on GeoEye 3. GeoEye 1 capaccuracy. GeoEye has been doing valtures imagery at 0.41 metre resoluue added production for the US govtion, which is delivered to the US government in St. Louis since 1987 and ernment. Imagery for the public is is one of the few satellite operators available at 0.5 metres because in who blend imagery from different the US, we cannot sell imagery that sensors and different sources to crehas resolution higher than 0.5 ate complex, value added products. metres to anyone other than the govThe ability to create imagery from ernment. While the policy might be various sources will gain importance changed going forward, it may not as you get additional necessarily be a near satellites as it is more term change. It is a We are spending important to focus on relevant point of disover a billion what the imagery tells cussion because the dollars between you than simply looknext satellite we are GeoEye 1 and 2 so ing at the picture for building for the US that our customers what you see. We call government, the Geou red can see an assu that multi-source proEye 2, will have the source of data over duction or imagery ability to capture the long term fusion. In December imagery at 0.33 2010, we bought a meters. company called However, the issue SPADAC, which was a leader in preis whether we would be able to sell dictive geospatial analytics, and imagery to others or at what point renamed it to GeoEye Analytics. Prewill the US revisits the limits. I think


dictive geospatial analytics has a lot of utility as it can help predict a future scenario by looking at certain characteristics of a present situation. Thus, it can help various agencies allocate their scarce resources in an efficient way. The ability to extract more information from the pixel will always be useful to your clients. The director of NGA said that she wanted on demand delivery of geospatial information to people and we have been doing this with our EyeQ platform. She also said that we need to get information out of the pixel, and that is exactly what we are doing with the analytics effort. The industry is going to evolve this way and there will be many more sensors soon. While that may increase the competition, it will also increase the supply of imagery and thus help produce more value added products.

Is the change in user needs bringing a change in the distribution and delivery of imagery? The first thing that comes to our mind when we see the increased amount of satellite data is how to make it easily accessible for all. A major revolution in the music industry is the iPod and one of the reasons it became a revolution is its ease of use. Likewise, we want to make it easier for non-technical people to access, manage and share imagery and that is what we have been doing

Geospatial World I January 2012

with our EyeQ platform. That then ties into another aspect of web distribution, which is the cloud. We often use business applications where companies do not store information themselves but there is another company that hosts and manages that information. We are doing that for the US government under a very successful programme called the Rapid Dissemination of Online Geospatial Information. Every major military activity and every major disaster relief is a coalition effort where imagery needs to be shared rapidly. In order to do that, the imagery has to be unclassified and one should have effective and efficient web distribution so that disaster relief, whether it is in Haiti or in Japan, can get the imagery through the web. Another thing that we focussed on while designing this service was giving people the ability to chip out just the image that they needed. For example, if they want to see the Fukushima nuclear plant, we have to make sure that they are not seeing too much of Japan because imagery is very dense and it is hard to transmit. One of the challenges in web delivery, whether it is for a government or commercial entity, is to ensure adequate security. People, for commercial or governmental reasons, do not want other people to know what tasking they are requesting or what pictures they want taken. They do not want others to see the imagery that comes down. Working through the cloud has a lot of advantages in terms of speed, economy and agility. However, the one disadvantage that it brings is that one really needs to work on the security aspect. Thus,

Geospatial World I January 2012

we will have to work together to figure out security for effective data distribution through the cloud.

GeoEye has been working with regional partners for distributing imagery. What is new on this front?

policy change. In Russia, we work with ScanEx, which has ground stations, production and distribution facilities. Russian market has been expanding and so is ScanEx. If you

We have always thought that it is smarter to work through local partners in all markets. We have strong partners in Europe, Asia and Middle East. We do not try to go into the market and compete with them because they speak the local language, know the local culture and have market intelligence. We are following the same route in emerging markets and have developed GeoEye's market over the past few years in China. In China, we work with a group called East-Dawn, which is a distribution and production company. We see signs in India that it is beginning to think about brining

Matt O'Connell CEO, President and Director, GeoEye


Courtesy: GeoEye

look at the global as they would about economic situation, information that could the most promising be used for defence or areas for growth are intelligence purposes. the developing countries because the Given that everybody is watching more developed their budgets, what countries in Europe are the kinds of and America are business models challenged by the that are evo olving in financial situation. satellite-based comWe do a lot of promercial EO industry? duction in India. One People have tradiof our most successtionally depended on ful products, the airgovernments for what port 3D model, is we call anchor tenbeing increasingly ants, where the govproduced in India. ernment puts in a big Now, we do less and order that helps less of that work in somebody build a big Denver, Colorado. satellite and then they While the Indian marsell the excess time. I ket is opening up, the GeoEye image showing extensive flooding in Wat Tum village, Thailand think there will be Latin American marmore and more sharing ket too shows a lot of but it is awfully hard because each of imagery and sharing of revenue. promise. It is a big market and it is nation has its own budget. The analogy I have often used is cell somewhat fragmented, but I think phone roaming charges where a that should develop with time. In each number of companies are involved in case, we prefer working through a Do you think such groups should be formed that the regional level gets sharing the revenue. I think that priclocal reseller because the reseller involved? ing will become more complicated knows the culture, knows the buyer I do not know what the most effecbut it will also become more rewardand thus it is not worth us investing in tive route would be, especially given ing because if we expand the market setting up an office there. the fact that everybody is watching and make our imagery available to their budgets carefully these days. I the users at large then the market We have groups like GEOSS, who are trying to act as linkages between think it has to be more on a global will continue to grow. We are seeing a users and providers. What shoulld than regional level. Every nation has period of economic uncertainty that be the role of such organisations? to step back and think about what it might slow us down for a year but it is We should try to design an effeccan afford and what does it really inevitable that this industry will contive financial model so that there need. We will have to plan for the long tinue to grow, because it makes every would be sharing of the benefits of term and not just do it for one misdecision maker more efficient. Every job creation, sharing of information sion. For example, we can set a target decision maker using geospatial and at the same time sharing of the for land coverage imagery for the information can make more informed economic burden because these next 20 years and so on. These two decisions. For the next year or two it things are expensive. I know that types of information are of such genmaybe a little cloudy but then the GEOSS and other groups have worked eral application that nations would clouds will clear and the growth will at trying to get people to cooperate not feel such proprietary about them continue.


Geospatial World I January 2012


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s spin-off of the surveillance technology used by defence establishments around the world, satellite-based earth observation (EO) has come a long way. Among the very first 'civilian' efforts mandated exclusively for EO was LandSat 1, formerly the Earth Resources Technology Satellite 1 (ERTS 1). Since the early 1970s, data from this satellite and its younger and better siblings is regarded as having served the longest span of consistently acquired visual records of our planetary surface. Efforts of a similar kind have also been successfully carried out by the IRS (Indian remote sensing satellites) series, albeit since the late 1980.


The question of whether technology is driving the applications or is it the other way round, has been mulled


Courtesy: DigitalGlobe

Courtesy: Earth Satellite Corporation

Courtesy: GeoEye

Courtesy: Astrium

Ear t h Obser v ation

Here, there, every w

over in numerous debate circles. So what do the technology providers have to say? Kumar Navulur, Director, Next Gen Products, DigitalGlobe says, "For the last 30 years, it was technology feeding the application but the trend is reversing. Technology is still leading by a fraction but now we are seeing a lot more applications asking for specific spectral bands." The availability of EO data in hard copy as well as digital formats has (according to some) resulted in a plethora of applications. Given the easy and free availability of temporal data, a whole lot of activities like analysing the process of change detection and monitoring of earth's surface have become 'doable' by anyone with a laptop. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and its Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) pro-

Geospatial World I January 2012

Courtesy: GeoEye

Courtesy: NASA

y where

global level, there is a very good understanding of EO technology and also good policy frameworks. Countries too are committed. What is needed is that the information derived from the analysis of EO systems reaches the actual workers on the ground." Today, EO data is supplemented by direct linkages to live data including global earthquake monitoring, ocean wave height monitoring, volcanic eruption, precipitation and snow and wind speed monitoring - leading to effective early warning systems.

gramme, with their mandate on EO, have caused a paradigm change in the way a common man understands and appreciates the benefits of EO. This article examines some of the key applications of EO data.

CONVENTIONAL APPLICATIONS Disaster management and mitigation As natural disasters know no bounds, the need for global coordination of information systems to address the entire cycle of disaster management and mitigation (DMM) is necessary. EO data, conventionally supplying the post disaster visuals, have been used very effectively in disaster assessment. Anil Kumar Sinha, Vice Chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, India, says, "At a

Geospatial World I January 2012

Energy The exploration of oil and gas, their extraction and production; electricity generation, transport and distribution, form only a part of the activities of the energy sector. The sector encompasses not only non-renewable resources, but also renewable resources such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower. The energy industry is heavily dependent on EO data. For example, weather data can form useful estimates for electricity supply and demand. EO data is important in the exploration, extraction and transport of the world's oil and gas reserves, several of which are located in remote and hostile territories. The data can also be used to build global resource maps for planning renewable energy projects. Renewable energy systems have benefitted from EO data in not only their optimisation, but also in their integration with traditional energy supply systems. While renewable energy sources are environmentally a safer option than fossil fuels, they are highly susceptible to environmental changes, with their availability depending largely on the prevailing local weather conditions. Data on cloud cover and solar irradiance, along with wind speeds and directions, combined with environmental parameters such as land elevation and land cover, are vital elements in planning for the location and operation


of renewable energy installations. Climate While the traditional means of data collection on land may give an indication of climate change at a local scale, it is only the amalgamation of such data from a large number of areas over a large time span, or the use of EO data on a global scale, that can truly give an indication of how the world's climate is responding to human expansion. For example, EO data makes it possible to track global vegetation trends over several years, examining its response to changing climate and also the impact that the increasing or decreasing vegetation cover has on climate. Newer applications of EO data include studying seasurface temperatures in an attempt to correlate rising global temperatures and hurricane occurrences. The European Space Agency (ESA), through its satellite Envisat, is obtaining high accuracy data on sea surface temperatures, helping in prediction of not only the occurrence of a hurricane, but also its magnitude and intensity. Another important EO application is the tracking of forest fires, either natural, or man made through slash and burn agriculture or negligence. Of immediate interest in viewing the effects of global climate change is the measurement of the rate of loss of ice sheets. ESA's CryoSat mission is providing researchers with precise data on ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Water That the world's fresh water reserves are slowly but surely depleting, has been proven by ground observations as well as EO data for gravity measurements. At regional and local levels, watershed and rainwater conservation practices have been drawing heavily on observations from EO satellites for fine tuning the water conservation prac-


tices which depend on terrain conditions, apart from the climatic zones. For example, the Asian Water Cycle Initiative (AWCI), apart from utilising meteorological datasets, also utilises EO data for watershed characterisation and prioritisation. Crispino Lobo, Executive Director, Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), India says, "Today, it is a common practice to incorporate EO data in a GIS and the utility will further improve if sub-metre spatial resolution is made available. This is because water resource management is a people and community-centric activity where EO data becomes just one data input. But it needs effective integration with GPS along with inputs from the local community. Any application developed for water management also needs to have a 'people’ component." Weather The national meteorological departments around the world function more or less as standalone units, issuing short, medium and long term weather forecasts. The utilisation of EO data from meteorological satellites is probably the earliest usage of such form of data. Today, EO data is being utilised to "close critical gaps in meteorological and related ocean observations and enhance observational and information capabilities for the protection of life and property, especially with regard to highimpact events and more so in the developing world," states the mandate of GEO. Ecosystem Application of EO to ecosystem monitoring is invaluable, since through conventional means it is often impossible to monitor ecosystems on the large scales they demand. For example, EO data allows for easy monitoring of the

Geospatial World I January 2012

Courtesy: GeoEye

harsh environs of the Arctic and the forest resource records and their Continued economic vast expanse of the Amazon rainstatus over large areas and time growth and development forests. spans allow an understanding of are placing increasing Human impact, not only in the parameters such as total area, rate stress on biodiversity the form of habitat destruction, but also of loss of forested land, and indirectworld ovver. EO data is a in the form of invasive species introly, estimation of the magnitude of powerful tool for duction and over-harvesting, is the available forest resources. EO satelconservationists to most common threat to several lites provide a convenient and ecomonitor wildlife in areas ecosystems. Conservation goals are nomic means of procuring such that are remote or often faced with the lack of quantitainformation, even over areas that difficult to access, or tive data. One of the most important are remote and inaccessible. simply too large for landapplications of EO data in this regard In 2009, Japan Aerospace Explobased reconnaissance is ecosystem classification. EO data, ration Agency (JAXA)’s satellite which can give immense knowledge Daichi imaged, in entirety, the of an area's vegetation, together world's forests at a resolution of 10 with ecological data, can help differentiate between difm, the first ever global forest imaging project at such a ferent ecosystems housing different species. resolution. The aim of this project was to estimate the Since the 1970s, infrared EO studies have been conability of the forest cover to absorb and store carbon dioxducted on Arctic ice sheets to track the loss in ice sheet ide, which has important implications towards global volume. In 2007, data indicated that the volume of the warming. On the other side of the globe, the Government Arctic ice sheets had fallen to less than half the average of Brazil has, in partnership with the National Institute of volume determined since the inception of the study. This Space Studies, monitored deforestation rates in the Amais not an encouraging piece of information on the only zon with the help of the CBERS satellites. They have estiecosystem that houses species such as the polar bear. mated that the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has dropped to its lowest level in over two decades. Forests and agriculture The immediate need for EO data in agriculture is Forests, with their immense importance to mankind, apparent when one considers the rapid increase in global their susceptibility to climatic fluctuations and their conpopulation and the consequent rise in demand for agristant threat from the ever-increasing demand for land, cultural produce. Proper management and development are in need of continual monitoring. The maintenance of of the world's agricultural resources require extensive information on agricultural set-ups, with respect to their types, location, kind of produce, quantity of produce and challenges faced. Applications of EO data in this field include crop assessment, crop-type classification, crop health assessment, agricultural landscape mapping, crop yield estimation and soil analysis.


Biodiversity Continued economic growth and development are placing increasing stress on biodiversity the world over. EO data is a powerful tool for conservationists to monitor wildlife in areas that are remote or difficult to access, or simply too large for land-based reconnaissance. One of the most recent and perhaps one of the most illustrative examples of the application of EO data in wildlife conservation is the discovery of rainforests on Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique. Later exploration

Geospatial World I January 2012

Essential EO variables

Courtesy : GEOSS Workshop XXXI- Using Earth Observation for Health

of the virgin rainforests uncovered no fewer than three new species of butterflies, a previously undiscovered species of snake, seven threatened bird species and a rare orchid. According to Kew, UK-based Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) botanist and expedition leader Jonathan Timberlake, "Even today we cannot say we know all of the world's key areas for biodiversity - there are still new ones to discover."

EMERGING APPLICATIONS Health The relationship between weather change and start of an epidemic is ancient wisdom based on centuries of observation. EO's ability to forecast weather has been used to attempt the possibility of predicting disease outbreak. The attempts at applying EO to improve health-related decision making need systems to model, collect and distribute coordinated epidemiological and environmental information. These have to be tagged with land use/land cover, population density, sanitation systems, water supply network and ancillary data that decide the vector, for predicting, monitoring and constructing risk maps and targeting interventions. Prof. Andy Morse, School of Environmental Science University of Liverpool, UK feels that the lack of ground truth in environmental observations, apart from the availability of meteorological, vegetation, soil, pollution and food availability data, is the cause of slow progress in applications of EO in the health sector.


Ramesh Dhiman, Deputy Director, National Institute of Malaria Research, Indian Council of Medical Research observes that 'the application of EO for ecological risk mapping at national and international level, along with development of early warning tools using climate and EO data which is integrated with pollution data, is necessary for effective usage of EO data in the health sector." Cadastral mapping It is verifiably documented that land and property disputes cause more cases of homicide and violence annually in a populated country like India than the deaths due to war, strife and terrorism. To manage this, efforts have been initiated for cadastral mapping of the entire country. The backdrop of this exercise is EO data from high resolution satellites like Cartosat and WorldView. Kumar Navulur of DigitalGlobe says, "With QuickBird, the positional accuracy was 17 m off. That means one could make maps of 1:50,000 scale. WorldView 1 and 2 are just 3 m off, meaning one can make maps of 1:5000 or 1:8000 scale and we believe that that will come down to 1 m." He adds that EO data has the potential to be a significant source of base layer for mapping, which will allow for things like infrastructure development. EO and location-based services The impact of convergence between GPS and EO is best showcased by commercial vehicular navigation devices and the supporting vertical sectors of location-based services (LBS) that are proliferating from the marriage of these two technologies. HervĂŠ Clauss, Director, Database Operations, TomTom informs that the company uses imagery as a reference for map creation/normalisation,

which is the 'traditional' usage of such data for geometry, lanes, 3D and 2D city models, address verification, point of interest (POI) verification, new highway construction while it also uses 'fresh' imagery in 'reality check for change detection.'

combinations of EO data with in-situ and modeled data to assist in forecast of key parameters - winds, waves, currents, water levels and sea ice, is being developed." High resolution stereo imagery, radar, data and products like digital elevation models (DEMs) are being adopted as baseline data by insurance companies for calculation of vulnerability ratings. Procedures and algorithms for extracting bathymetry in near shore environments have been successfully demonstrated. The days of standalone imagery use are over. The proof lies in the increasing demand and supply of thematic layers being developed over popular virtual earths. Today, even the lay user of these applications demands value addition.

The days of very high resolution imageries in real colour are passĂŠ, but the information, intelliigence and knowledge extracted from them and made available in multitude of themetic layers, along with value additions and guaranteed information updates, is the present and future.

EO is playing a decisive role in resources development and management, which is today strongly guided by ideologies of sustainability. Mineral exploration, including oil and gas, offers the prospect of 'missed opportunity - revisited' due to quantum jumps in the technology. V. Subramanyan, Professor in Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India, speaking in the context said, “EO in the context of mineral exploration offers a chance to rapidly, and if necessary, repeatedly survey large areas, in seeking the characteristic surface expressions or 'gossans' from more deeply hidden ore deposits. Apart from the discovery of new mineral deposits, EO data is also being effectively used in mapping and registering property, infrastructure monitoring, emergency monitoring and accident implications assessment along with environmental monitoring at mining and exploitation sites, says N. Sevastiyanov, General Designer, Gazprom Space Systems. Colin Grant, GSSC Core Member, Metocean Technical Authority, BP Exploration says, "As the oil and gas industry is moving to deeper waters and arctic areas, sea ice and iceberg monitoring and forecasting, oil spill monitoring and surveillance along with

THE WRITING ON THE WALL Answering 'where is it' is getting easier by the day as ground resolution improves. Answering 'what is it' every time is not possible. Automated change detection is still a technology which, if and when implemented successfully, will cause a boom and revival of applications which have been shelved for the lack of reliable and repetitive techniques. The raw product from the EO satellites and sensors was, is and will continue to be the base data for all earth surface, atmosphere, and, to some extent, sub-surface, monitoring, investigation and analysis. Mathieu Benoit, Director, Earth Observation Group, VIASAT GeoTechnologies Inc. concludes, "The future belongs to high resolution (<50 cm) and cost is not much of an issue. Stereo capacity and access on demand along, with the capacity to produce information regardless of sensor type, will be the deciding factors." The days of very high resolution imageries in real colour are passĂŠ, but the information, intelligence and knowledge extracted from them and made available in multitude of themetic layers, along with value additions and guaranteed information updates, is the present and future. The ubiquity of EO is unfortunately not as easy to depict or state as that of geospatial technology. Dr. Hrishikesh Samant Sr. Associate Editor (Honorary),


Year 2011 witnessed how geospatial technology evolved and innovated itself as per expanding market ude demand. In early 2011, it helped experts measure and minimise the devastating impact of an 8.9 magnitu quake, followed by the 'double tsunami' in Japan. Later on, scientists explored the latent potenttial of LiDAR, which could make possible driverless cars. The business domain saw increased competitiion with the entry of Glonass and Beidou while on the policy front India went liberal and embraced a new remote sensing data policy. Here is a quick recap of the news and news makers of the year thatt was.

Spain's dual EO system on the anvil Paz sat in Astriumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lab


GLONASS, Beidou fully operational In December 2011, China and Russia announced that their global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) Beidou and GLONASS, respectively, were fully operational. While there are ten navigation satellites in Beidou's network at present, the GLONASS system is a constellation of 24 satellites. Six more satellites are scheduled to be launched in 2012 to extend the reach of Bediou to most parts of Asia. In total, Beidou will be a constellation of 35 navigation satellites, offering global coverage by 2020. Following the launch of GLONASS, Russia announced a new deal with India under which Indian defence will use GLONASS service to receive precision signals that will allow missiles, including those fired from nuclear submarine Chakra, to strike within half a metre of distant targets. As per another clause in the deal, India will help Russia produce GLONASS equipment.


Spain is set to become the first European country to have a dual earth observation (EO) system, radar and optical, for both civilian and military use. Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacon informed that radar technology installed on the Paz satellite will enable up to 100 images of the earth's surface to be taken per day at a resolution of up to 1 yard. In three years' time, this capacity will be joined by that of the Ingenio satellite and its optical technology. It is the first time that the Spanish space industry has undertaken the challenge to build a satellite of this size and complexity to be assembled and manufactured entirely in Spain. Chacon added that the Paz satellite, which will be in orbit in 2013, will be able to detect the position of any ship in the world that could possibly become the victim of hijacking, through an automatic AIS identification system.

Geospatial World I January 2012

Satellites unravel Japan tsunami mystery The tsunami that devastated the north-east coast of Japan on March 11 was created by at least two wave fronts that merged to form a far more destructive 'double tsunami', according to NASA and researchers at Ohio State University. Using GPS measurements, scientists determined that the 8.9 magnitude quake, which resulted in the tsunami, moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the earth on its axis. Dr. Y Tony Song, a research scientist at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in California, said ''It was a one in 10 million chance that we Japan's northeast coast were able to observe this double wave with satellites.'' He added that the same phenomenon could have caused the Chilean tsunami in 1960, in which 200 people in Japan and Hawaii were killed. At another front, a team of US and Japanese scientists claimed that for the first time ever a tsunami was observed by radars, which raised the possibility of new early warning systems. The scientists revealed this finding in their paper titled, Japan Tsunami Current Flows Observed by HF Radars on Two Continents.

Driverless car powered by LiDAR Year 2011 saw Google introduce its miraculous driverless car, which is guided by LiDAR technology. The car, worth USD 75000, provides drivers with a 360 degree and 3D view of the surroundings. LiDAR tech will guide the car at every road and traffic signal and also detects other cars and pedestrians. It will work in all weather conditions and is specially designed for those with mobility issues. By the end of 2011, a US patent

Robots at Google I/O 2011

Coming soon: Robot-powered maps Fleets of robots could assist Google with collecting information, replacing the humans that photograph streets for Google Maps. A recent media report, citing the Google X lab based on the company's Mountain View campus, stressed that at Google, some of the outlandish projects may not be as much of a stretch as they first appear, even though they defy the bounds of the company's main web search business. For example, space elevators, a long-time fantasy of Google's founders and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, could haul things into space (In theory, they involve rocketless space travel along a cable anchored to Earth). "Google is collecting the world's data, so now it could be collecting the solar system's data," said Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at M.I.T.'s computer science and artificial intelligence lab and founder of Heartland Robotics.

Geospatial World I January 2012

for self-driving cars was awarded to Google. The car's functioning is based on two sets of sensors. While the first identifies a "landing strip" when the vehicle stops, the second set receives data informing the machine where it is positioned and where it should go. The landing strip allows a human driving the vehicle to know acceptable parking places for the vehicle. Additionally, the landing strip may indicate to the vehicle that it is parked in a region where it may transition into autonomous mode.



G-tech leads 'year of discoveries'

Flows of liquid brine

Geospatial technology, with its power to gaze beneath the earth's surface, helped scientists unravel several mysteries around the world during the past year. A team from the University of Leicester in the UK used satellites and aerial photographs to identify the remains of a lost civilisation of the Sahara in Libya's south-western desert. The team discovered more than 100 fortified farms and vilDense distribution of fortified villages and oasis gardens in southwestern Libya lages with castle-like structures dating between AD 1-500. Similarly, Chinese archaeologists found evidence indicating that the mysterious ancient city of Loulan (Kroraina) once had highly-developed agricultural systems. Scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, conducted remote sensing procedures in the area and found that there were once large tracts of farmlands in Loulan. On the other hand, Egyptian government initiated work on experimental wells in the desert after satellite images lead the discovery of new access points to a huge underground water oasis, known as the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS), spanning Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan.


NASA finds liquid water on Mars

GPS-powered system to save fuel

An image combining the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) imagery with 3D modelling showed flows that appear on a slope inside Mars' Newton crater. The source observation was made by the high resolution imaging science experiment camera on the MRO. Some aspects of the observations still puzzle researchers, but flows of liquid brine fit the features' characteristics better than alternate hypotheses. Sites with active flows get warm, even in the shallow subsurface, to sustain liquid water that is about as salty as earth's oceans, while pure water would freeze at the observed temperatures. The featured image is only about 0.5 to 5 yards or metres wide, with lengths up to hundreds of yards. The width is much narrower than previously reported gullies on Martian slopes. However, some of those locations display more than 1,000 individual flows.

Geospatial tech took a step ahead towards resolving the problem of fast depleting global oil resources. Scania, an automobile company, developed 'Scania Active Prediction'. The cruise control system uses GPS to determine vehicles' position and to predict the topography of the road ahead. Subsequently, the speed is adjusted before entering an ascent or descent, helping drivers make the most of every drop of fuel. The system can deliver a fuel saving of up to 3 percent when driving on undulating stretches of road. Based on a 40tonne truck combination (tractor unit and semitrailer) running 180,000 km/year, a fuel saving of 3 percent would reduce fuel consumption by about 1,700 litres per year. This is equivalent to an annual reduction in fuel costs of almost EUR 2,200 and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of over 4 tonnes! The company will start to deliver trucks with the system soon.

Geospatial World I January 2012


Federal bodies to lower data storage cost The General Services Administration (GSA), US, is working with several federal agencies to provide a common, cloud-based infrastructure where agencies can access geospatial data, in an effort to lower storage costs and reduce duplication. The GSA recently entered into an agreement with the US Agriculture and Interior Department as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move geospatial data from the portal onto, informed David McClure, associate administrator with GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. was designed to provide one-stop web access to geospatial information under the Geospatial One-Stop project, an e-government initiative managed by the US Geological Service. However, since has been migrated to a cloud computing platform, there is sufficient capacity to provide provisioning services and flexibility to expand the platform, if needed.

India adopts RS data policy 2011 The Government of India (GoI) released its much-awaited Remote Sensing Data Policy (RSDP – 2011) on July 4, 2011, bringing much needed relief to the industry. As per the new policy, all satellite remote sensing data of resolutions up to 1 metre will be distributed on a non-discriminatory basis and ‘on request’. The 2001 policy required data of up to 5.8 meter resolution to be protected. To get data better than 1 metre resolution, private agencies will need clearance from an interagency high resolution image clearance committee (HRC). However, government bodies can obtain such data without any further clearance. Some of the highlights of the policy include: - Department of Space (DOS) will be the nodal agency for all actions under this policy. - The government, through DOS, will be the sole and exclusive owner of all data collected/received from IRS. - Any organisation interested in operating a remote sensing satellite from India, will need license and/or permission of the government. - While the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO/DOS is vested with the authority to acquire and disseminate all satellite remote sensing data in India, both from Indian and foreign satellites, Antrix Corporation Ltd. (of DOS) will be responsible for grant of license for acquisition/distribution of IRS data outside India.

In addition, the GoI announced a project to standardise GIS in the country. An interim core group of geospatial experts, formed by Planning Commission of India, prepared a draft for India's National GIS, a state-of-the art online information bank. It is expected to be fully operational in 3 years.

Governments offer data access to common users Unrestricted access to data has always been considered as the first step towards optimum utilisation of spatial technology. As a step ahead in this direction, Bhuvan, Indian geoportal, will now provide satellite data to the general public. The Dutch government too announced two major data releases. The first initiative pertains to the Ministry for Economic Affairs, which announced the creation of a national database for satellite images that will be available to the public and entrepreneurs. Another initiative is from the Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment, which offered full access of the 'base registry' of topographic data, maintained by the Kadaster. Towards the end of the year 2011, Brazil also joined the race of open data as it announced that images from its first indigenous satellite, Amazon-1 (to be launched in 2013), will be offered free of charge to neighbouring countries.


Geospatial World I January 2012

Market Reports

'Sat data sales to touch 4 bn'

3D laser scanning market to double by 2015 The 3D laser scanning market including hardware, software and services will grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4 percent, according to a report by ARC advisory group. In addition, the report forecasted that the market will double in size by 2015. 3D laser scanning equipment senses the shape of an object and collects data for the location of the outer surface. This distinct technology has found applications in many industries including discrete and process manufacturing, utilities, construction, archaeology, law enforcement, government and entertainment. In the past year, department of transportation in the UK awarded GBP 2.7 million (USD 4.2 million) contract to UK-based 3D Laser Mapping for 3D laser scanners. The contract came after realisation that 3D laser scanners could drive down the GBP 1 billion annual cost of congestion caused by collisions on motorways. It is pertinent to mention that in early 2011, the DOT had already procured scanners worth GBP 3 million.

APAC geospatial market set to grow The Asia Pacific (APAC) earth observation (EO) market earned over USD 70.1 million in 2010 and will reach USD 220.5 million in 2018, according to a market report by Frost & Sullivan. Similarly, TechNavio's market report revealed that the GIS market in the APAC region is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14 percent. Frost & Sullivan's report stressed that the enormous quantity of high-resolution, multi-spectral and hyper-spectral data available in a short span has improved decision-making processes for several commercial and government users. Policy makers in this region are ramping up government spending for space and satellite imagery endeavours. In addition, the report observed that by 2018, satellite imagery is expected to become a commodity. About the GIS market, TechNavio's report observed that in spite of the demand for GIS solutions in the APAC region, integration issues with cloud technologies are hindering the growth of this market.

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The year gone by brought plenty of good news for the satellite imagery industry. Highlighting the ever expanding demand for satellite data, Adam Keith, Director, Earth Observation (EO) Euroconsult revealed that global satellite data sales are expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent over the decade, reaching nearly USD 4 billion by 2020. According to Euroconsult, EO commercial data sales reached USD 1.3 billion in 2010. Optical data represented 83 percent of overall sales, with the remaining 17 percent from SAR. The majority (60 percent) of data revenues in 2010 were from very high resolution optical systems to support a predominantly government defence customer base. The number of high-resolution imaging satellites in operation offering commercial data is expected to nearly double over 2010-2015. Over 40 countries are projected to launch EO satellite capacity by 2020.


'Global LBS market to touch EUR 300 mn' Global revenues for mobile location platforms will grow to EUR 300 million in 2016, according to a new market report by Berg Insight. Annual revenues for mobile location platforms, including AGPS servers and middleware platforms, are projected to grow from about EUR 150 million in 2010 to EUR 300 million in 2016. Ericsson remains the leading vendor in terms of number of contracts for location platforms,

ahead of Nokia Siemens Networks and TeleCommunication Systems. Governments and telecom regulators in many parts of the world are introducing stricter emergency call and lawful intercept mandates that require network operators to invest in location platforms. Moreover, the Strategy Analytics Wireless Media Strategies (WMS) observed that the privacy concerns will barely be a speed bump in the evolution of location-based services (LBS).



With acquisition Bentley enhances modelling capabilities Bentley Systems used its annual Be Inspired event to project its futuristic approach towards the solutions market for infrastructure design, construction and operation. The company announced two important acquisitions and launched a new software. The company acquired Pointools Ltd, hardwareneutral provider of point cloud software technology, to integrate point cloud processing in innovative ways throughout its product portfolio. The move will expand Bentley's 2D and 3D modelling capabilities into cloud computing. The company also announced the acquisition of FormSys, a software development company with a proven track record in 3D design, analysis and construction software for structural engineering, offshore engineering and naval architecture. The acquisition will expand Bentley's SACS (Structural Analysis Computer System) offerings for the design and analysis of floating structures, further extending its reach in offshore energy market. In addition, the company announced the immediate commercial availability of its new AECOsim Energy Simulator software and the commercial availability of its new AECOsim Building Designer software in early 2012.

Trimble on acquisition spree In the year 2011, Trimble made two major acquisitions. It acquired Dynamic Survey Solutions and MyTopo. According to the company's press statement, the acquisition of Dynamic Survey is expected to expand Trimble's presence in the seismic survey industry. The business will be reported as part of Trimble's engineering and construction segment. The acquisition of MyTopo will expand Trimble's ability to offer unique map content and new outdoor-centric products. It will also enhance its mobile apps-Trimble Outdoors, AllSport GPS, Geocache Navigator, Cabela's Recon Hunt and Backpacker GPS Trails. In addition, the company also informed that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Ashtech S.A.S. The acquisition is expected to expand Trimble's spectra precision portfolio of survey solutions and allow the company to better address emerging markets worldwide.

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Recession blues haunt industry

Digitisation in full swing in Rwanda

Budget cuts and scrapped deals continued to make headlines as the geospatial industry faced plenty of stern challenges during 2011. GeoEye announced that it will not meet its previously announced revenue target for 2011, mainly because its biggest customer, the US government, is slowing its contract award process in the face of budget pressures. It was also learnt that an unnamed European customer that had been expected to make a large order has decided to scrap the idea. On the other hand, the US Air Force is considering terminating a multibillion-dollar weather satellite being developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. The move came as the air force hunts for ways to trim its budget and help the Pentagon achieve about USD 489 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. In addition, during GEOINT 2011 conference, US Congressmen Mike Rogers (RMich.) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) hinted at the possibility of more budget cuts, given the reality of budget austerity in the years to come.


In a bid to promote apt management of land records across Rwanda, the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) digitised over 3.3 million plots of land, announced Didier Sagashya, Deputy Director General in charge of lands and mapping. "The promotion of GIS will enable Rwanda to get the optimal information concerning infrastructure and business planning and this will be the best position for the country to deal with land issues," he observed. In addition, he announced that RNRA will carry out training programmes across the country to ensure that people clearly understand the importance of GIS in development. In most countries including India, digitisation of records largely remains confined to making available scanned copies of title deeds online. Without fresh surveys of properties, digitisation fails to reflect errors in property titles. At a time when land disputes continue to clog courts, fresh surveys are a prerequisite for proper digitisation and land reforms.

US launches NEON project The US government commissioned development of the national ecological observatory network (NEON) with the National Science Foundation awarding a USD 434 million ten-year grant. The network will consist of 20 core observatories representing distinct eco-regions throughout the US. These will be bolstered by temporary stations that can be relocated wherever data needs to be collected. The sites will house equipment and host visiting researchers while gathering a range of environmental data over at least three decades. Once the entire network is up and running, some 15,000 sensors will work in concert with scientists on the ground to supply roughly 500 distinct categories of data ranging from basic weather readings to concentrations of ozone in the air and nitrogen in the soils, leaves and streams. Scientists will collect tens of thousands of samples, including soil, water, plants and small mammals. Officials expect the network to be operational by 2016.

Geospatial World I January 2012


Iran controls 'lost' US drones

Space agencies face cyber attacks

Using GPS spoofing technique, Iran guided the "lost" stealth US drone (RQ170 Sentinel) to an intact landing inside hostile territory, accordInfographic: Iran controls drone ing to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran. The engineer explained that Iran used the knowledge gleaned from previous downed US drones and a reverse-engineering technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan. "The spoofing technique that the Iranians used made the drone land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications from the US control centre," stated the engineer. The US military has reportedly been aware of vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s.

Computer hackers interfered with two US government satellites four times in 2007 and 2008 through a ground station in Norway, according to a congressional commission. The intrusions on the satellites, used for earth climate and terrain observation, underscore the potential danger posed by hackers, according to excerpts from the final draft of the 2011 annual report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The report explained that Landsat-7 earth observation satellite system experienced 12 or more minutes of interference in October 2007 and July 2008. Hackers also interfered with a Terra AM-1 earth observation satellite twice, for two minutes in June 2008 and nine minutes in October that year. Hackers attacked Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) and analysed computer IDs and passwords, enabling a party to gain access to the server. To deal with such problems, Japan is developing a virus that could track down the source of a cyber attack and neutralise its programme. The weapon is the culmination of a USD 2.3 million three-year project entrusted by the government to technology maker Fujitsu Ltd.

Uncontrolled re-entry of satellites The year 2011 witnessed uncontrolled re-entry of Upper Atmosphere Research satellite (UARS) and Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT). The UARS, a NASA satellite, was dead in space plunged back to earth, but till the end of the show, it remained a mystery that when and where the satellite will fall. And, the incident was repeated by ROSAT, a German satellite. Just as for NASA's UARS satellite, which plunged into the atmosphere in September, there was high uncertainty about the final moments of ROSAT. Experts had calculated that perhaps as much as 1.6 tonnes of wreckage - more than half the spacecraft's launch mass - could have ridden out the destructive forces of re-entry and hit the planet. In the case of UARS, the probable mass of surviving material was put at only half a tonne (out of a launch mass of more than six tonnes).

Geospatial World I January 2012


Investing in attending an event can often prove to be the best thing that one could do to take the business to new heights. Imagine being able to learn firsthand from experts and market leaders who have a plethora of experience in the geospatial domain. These leaders can get sharp minds to shape the way ahead for their businesses. One can meet and discuss business strategies by shaking hands in person, be it in the bar, walking down the hallways, or in the breakout sessions. So, here is a list of events that will remain in spotlight in 2012.


29 - 31 May

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

07 - 09 February

MundoGEO Connect 2012

India Geospatial Forum 2012

Sao Paulo, Brazil

25 Aug - 1 Sept. ISPRS 2012

Gurgaon, India


Melbourne, Australia

4 - 7 June

29 February

Hexagon 2012


GeoNext Conference 2012

Sydney, Australia

APRIL 02 - 04 April Where Conference 2012

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

State of the Map 2012

21 - 23 June

Tokyo, Japan

Geospatial EXPO 2012

Japan index.html

03 - 04 April Middle East Geospatial Forum 2012

Doha, State of Qatar

10 - 15 September FOSS4G 2012

Beijing, China

San Francisco, CA

06 - 08 September

JULY 3 - 6 July GI_Forum 2012

Salzburg, Austria G_2012

OCTOBER 9 - 11 October INTERGEO 2012


Hanover, Germany

23 - 27 April

GeoIntelligence Asia 2012 ch/intergeo/ p?navid=17

Geospatial World Forum 2012

New Delhi, India eointelligenceasia


Amsterdam he Netherlands

23 - 27 July

5 - 7 November

ESRI User Conference

Trimble Dimensions 2012

Sandiego, C.A, USA

Las Vegas, US -conference/index.html trimbleevents.shtml

MAY 14 - 17 May Global Geospatial Conference 2012 (GSDI 13)

Quebec, Canada

15 - 17 May Be Together: The Bentley User Conference

Philadelphia, USA


AUGUST 05 - 10 August International Geological Congress

Brisbane, Australia

14 - 17 August Latin America Geospatial Forum 2012

Geospatial World I January 2012

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January 2012 : Earth observation  

We discuss in this issue on Earth observation