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A picture is worth a thousand words – what could you do with satellite data?

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By John Hildreth, North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence

John Hildreth from the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence highlights the growing impact of satellite data on our every day lives.

Access to data from satellites, particularly Earth Observation (EO) data, has the power to impact everyday lives for billions of people across the world. Whether it’s using satellite imagery and data to provide up-to-date intelligence in responding to large-scale natural disasters such as the recent Hurricane Patricia, using the data to understand crop health for smart agri-tech applications, or helping to keep our seas safe through marine and maritime tracking, the power of satellite data is something not to be understated.

The ability to easily access cost-effective satellite data and imagery and link with ground-based data, is also helping provide new market opportunities for innovative SMEs and entrepreneurs in the UK. One such example is Stevenson Astrosat which uses EO data to solve problems for customers across the globe. The Edinburgh-based company, which specialises in innovative space services and technology, recently scooped the 2015 Copernicus Masters Smart Cities and Intelligent Transport Challenge for its eXude flood monitoring application.

The opportunity to integrate satellite imagery with other datasets such as in-situ sensors, imagery and data collected from drones, or organisational data (both open and closed) provides a great platform for innovators to deliver new disruptive solutions to untapped industry needs.

Another great example of this innovation in practice is where the Satellite Applications Catapult, working in partnership with Milton Keynes (MK) Council and The Open University, has successfully developed a series of satellite-based applications to aid the Council in delivering more effective and efficient services.

The geodata service platform within the MK Data Hub is designed to engage business and innovation of all scales, enabling users to publish, view and interact with geodata about Milton Keynes. Amongst the innovative services developed by the Catapult is one that provides a property-by-property analysis of the potential to install rooftop solar panels, including a cost-benefit estimate for each installation. Another – a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) application will provide an assessment at household level of the potential to install GSHP systems – which extract heat from the ground – and a cost-benefit analysis model for each installation.

The forthcoming Collaborate to Innovate Space Conference, which is taking place in Newcastle upon Tyne on 26 November 2015, will feature an expert panel session on the subject of EO data and the opportunities it provides for North East companies. Speakers from the Catapult, Airbus Defence and Space, DroneLabs, Geospatial Insight, Sterling GEO and Stevenson Astrosat will be on the panel. To find out more or to register for this event, please visit