Satellite Applications Catapult and Milton Keynes Council develop pioneering Urban Planning Service

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The Satellite Applications Catapult has developed a unique Urban Planning Service for Milton Keynes Council, using Earth observation (EO) data to efficiently identify the progress of approved building work.

The innovative system provides Milton Keynes with a tool for automating planning validation tasks across a large geographic area using satellite data. This is part of addressing the growing challenge facing UK cities around economic development and sustainability.

“Local authorities that respond effectively to this challenge are anticipated to deliver continuous improvement to the quality of life for their citizens” explains Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult. “A council’s ability to acquire services that improve operational efficiency, stimulate growth for the local economy and support sustainability are therefore of critical importance.”

Recognising an opportunity to make better use of satellite data to address its urban planning activities and reduce the high resource impact previously needed to identify progress of approved building work, Milton Keynes approached the Catapult to provide independent expert advice and support needed to harness EO data as a valuable information source.

Through its Data Discovery Hub, the Catapult can easily identify and access a broad range of satellite data that can be used for evidence-based decision making, information gathering and environment monitoring.

Milton Keynes Council Director of Strategy, Geoff Snelson, said: “The initial demonstrator project was very successful in providing intelligence about progress and areas of concern where planning officers could investigate planning irregularities. Looking ahead, we’re continuing to work with the Catapult to develop a programme of projects that we believe will deliver significant benefits to the city and have the potential to act as a national and international demonstrator.”

Suppliers will soon be given the opportunity to compete to operate this service from the second quarter of this year, following delivery of the operational Urban Planning Service at the end of 2014.

“We anticipate this service will be rolled out across the UK and Europe, and will extend it to other services such as ground movement, flood modelling, security and soil erosion, once planning has been adopted,” added Stuart.