Last Week in Earth Observation: Feb 13, 2023
News, Analysis & Insights on All Things Earth Observation
Hey! Welcome to a new edition of
8-Things Earth Observation Last Week in Earth Observation (thanks to those who voted), where I attempt to curate the major developments in EO from the week that just passed and provide some thoughts & analysis on some of them.
If you do not see something on the curated list and you think it is relevant, please send it my way. My aim is to make this weekly newsletter to be the most comprehensive resource there is about all things EO.
Four Curated Things
A non-exhaustive summary of key developments in Earth observation.
1. Financial Stuff - Funding, Contracts and More 💰
SatSure, a vertically integrated EO company from India raised an undisclosed amount in strategic investments from the country’s major banks - ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and HDFC Ltd. (+ my take);
World View is positioning itself as an EO company in their SPAC investor presentation (which I reviewed here);
Maxar Technologies was awarded an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, worth up to $192 million over five years;
SatelliteVu, the UK-based EO company, building thermal infrared satellites announced that it has secured £81 million worth of purchase options from 30 companies for their Early Access Programme.
2. Strategic Stuff - Announcements & Partnerships 📈
The World Meteorological Organization’s Early Warnings for All initiative, aims to ensure that every person on Earth is covered by an early warning system by the year 2027, had its first regional launch in Barbados;
OroraTech, the EO startup building wildfire monitoring thermal infrared satellites announced the launch of an on-orbit processing technology that can detect and send fire notification alarms to customers within 3 minutes;
Esri has launched a new app, Sentinel-2 Land Cover Explorer, to easily view and analyze global land use changes, particularly aimed at policy makers;
AiDash, the EO-based infrastructure monitoring company is launching an energy grid resilience product together with Schneider Electric;
Atlas Space Operations, a ground software as a service company has joined the AWS Solution Provider Program to expand its ground station network;
3. Interesting Stuff - In The News 🗞️
Techstars announced their first cohort of startups in Saudi Arabia, which includes several EO startups: Airmo, Kawa Space, SARsatX and SMSNR.
Orbify, announced the launch of their no-code EO platform;
Sentinel-4, aimed at monitoring global air quality, is set to be integrated to its host, the Meteosat Third Generation Sounder weather satellite.
4. Interesting Things - Check These Out 🔗
How Google uses satellite imagery for real-time wildfire tracking;
How Sylvera measures Forest Biomass;
Why AWS is diversifying into space;
A short history on radio occultation for weather forecasting from NASA.
This edition of the newsletter is brought to you by …
5. Environmental Performance Metrics with Asterra
Asterra announced the launch of their EO Discover platform, a software application for the infrastructure sector, powered by EO,.
With the easy-to-use, interactive dashboard, asset managers and infrastructure operators will be able to measure, track and report environmental metrics such as greenhouse gas reduction, energy saved (in kwh/year), energy cost savings, water saved (in litres or gallons), and the water cost savings - all of this powered by Asterra’s proprietary EO data processing and fusing technology.
I am excited about the platform as it demonstrates the importance of transforming insights from satellite data into useful information that can be readily consumed by anyone, pushing EO in the background.
Two Discussion Points
Analysis, thoughts and insights on some developments in EO
6. Towards More Backward Vertical Integration?
Just within the last few months, we have seen several developments that have validated my thesis about the evolution of ‘backward vertical integration’ in EO. Previously, I had written about similar backward vertical integration strategies from AXA, AON, BCG, Palantir, ExxonMobil, Husqvarna Group, Hitachi, S&P Global and more.
Almost a year ago, in one of my posts, I posed the following question: “Will we see a market leader in a specific industry taking the decision to invest in EO - through M&A or in-house development activities?”
And, just in the last couple of weeks, we saw at least two major developments that validate my thesis further:
Two major energy companies, Williams and ONEOK, investing in Orbital Sidekick;
India’s three major banks ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and HDFC Ltd investing in SatSure;
I am convinced that EO will become a fundamental technology and in some cases, a strategic differentiator for a number of organisations across sectors. So seeing banks, insurance companies, energy firms and financial services organisations partnering with/investing in EO companies is a no-brainer!
I expect that we will continue to see partnerships/investments/acquisitions of EO (data/platform/intelligence) companies by market leaders within specific verticals - they will start looking at EO with a strategic lens, not just an operational lens. The future of EO is about building the technology together with the end-users, for the end-users - we are just starting this journey.
7. Satellite Data for Search & Rescue in Turkey and Syria
Satellite data has been widely used in communicating the immeasurable impacts of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
I have had some conversations over the last few days with some folks in the EO community, supporting the ongoing disaster response activities. We discussed about the challenges of accessing, licensing, distributing and using satellite data, and more importantly, what we can do to make that right. While important, I think it would be rather insensitive to delve into that here, although I am confident we will have retrospective learnings in all of those four areas.
Some resources I have consolidated over the last week (in case I have missed something, please send them my way):
A collection of data, maps and decision support tools from NASA;
Ground deformation maps from ESA’s Geohazards Exploitation Platform;
Damage proxy maps (pictured above) from Earth Observatory of Singapore;
Maps from Copernicus Emergency Monitoring Service;
Disaster reports and maps from Sentinel Asia;
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap projects;
Atlas of Human Settlements data layers for Turkey and Syria by Atlas AI;
Maxar’s open data portal;
Contact details for Planet’s open data service;
All resources from the Disaster Charter (I am very glad this exists!);
A “getting started” guide on OpenStreetMap.
One Podcast Episode
*Not* from the TerraWatch Space podcast
8. Earth Observation in India
The TerraWatch Space podcast was on hiatus this week, so I am resharing the conversation I had on the NewSpace India podcast, where I was invited to speak about the state of EO in India and its outlook.
We covered a number of interesting topics such as the differences in EO adoption compared to the West, the importance of investing in vertical-specific EO innovation hubs and more (plus, you get to hear some of my predictions).
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Until next week,