GeoWorld January 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 31

BY WALTER SCOTT Commercial Satellite as a Cloud Services and T echnologies creep up on you. They start out as curiosities, like the first cars ("look ma, no horse!") or cell phones ("look ma, no wires!"). Through time, they mature. Then one day, you realize you can't imagine having lived without them. Commercial satellite imagery is rapidly entering this category. Most people first were exposed to satellite imagery through Web portals such as Google and Bing ("look ma, I can see my house!"). But in the last year alone, commercial satellite imagery played a key role in responding to the tsunami in Japan, the refugee crisis in Sudan, monitoring oil reserves and planning military operations against suspected terrorists. People use satellite imagery on smartphones to find their way to new places. Behind the scenes, it's used to locate new cell towers, plan construction, monitor deforestation and find new oil. Like the car and the cell phone, it's becoming a cornerstone of modern life. When looking at the history of the commercial satel- lite industry, it has progressed through the following four "eras": 26 G W ORLD /JANUAR Y —When the customer's needs advanced beyond the limited local coverage of aerial imagery or the low resolution provided by then-current satellite sources such as SPOT and Landsat, the com- mercial satellite industry was born. Through the course of the last 10-15 years, commercially launched satel- lites have allowed customers to receive sub-meter- resolution imagery with global coverage and were the enablers of services such as Google Maps. —The emergence of map making—in government and the private sector—drove the need for greater accuracy. DigitalGlobe, for example, improved accuracy levels and refresh frequency with the launches of WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 in 2007 and 2009, respec- tively, regularly delivering imagery that's accurate to within 3-4 meters and with enough capacity to collect the land- surface area of the planet six times over each year. —This is the current era. There's an ever-growing customer need for quick delivery of images from commercial satellite imagery providers, whether it's soldiers on the ground or first responders Imagery/LIDAR Special Issue Satellite Imagery

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of GeoWorld - GeoWorld January 2012