Sustainable Living

The Satellite Applications Catapult recognises that Sustainable Living is a key market for helping to achieve our vision, “to innovate for a better world empowered by satellites”. We believe that satellites will play a vital role in helping to achieve the Global Goals for Sustainable Development as set out by the United Nations.

Current Activites in Sustainable Living

Through a High Value Crop Monitoring project led by CGI and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), we have demonstrated the benefits of an integrated communications solution to connect ground based sensors to a central hub. This project involves AgSpace, University of Leicester and Met Office and could lead to a future spin-off company. Our Business Innovation team are working with AgSpace as a potential scale-up.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery has huge potential for agricultural applications, especially in the cloudy temperate zones of the Earth, and Catapult is engaging broadly to push forward R&D in these areas. To illustrate how successful commercial services can be developed using the Sentinel 1 data we are following on from the successful completion of a feasibility study funded by Innovate UK. The ESA funded project led by AgSpace will use Sentinel 1 radar data to monitor crop growth. This will be first UK agri-tech company offering a commercial service using radar data in precision agriculture.

Over the last year we have continued to build on our Urban Planning Application tool, Keyne-eye. Through our North East Centre of Excellence, we have demonstrated the tool to Sunderland City Council, who plan to take the service as part of a service platform that will replicate the work we have been doing with Milton Keynes Council. The preparatory work for this has raised the awareness of the potential of satellite applications with councils, SMEs (both space and non-space) and has resulted in new collaborations, such as VREO and Astrosat now working together.

There is a powerful argument for extending the capabilities of this platform beyond urban planning to support other urban development applications, of interest both to the city authorities and to the community of local application developers and individual citizens. We will continue to develop this capability and engage the local authorities and industry to build world class applications with the potential to export globally.

A further area of sustainable development which we have identified as potentially benefitting from satellite data and services is that of monitoring the environmental impact of human activity for commercial gain. Our concept of an Environmental Monitoring Platform brings together various forms of Earth Observation data and analysis techniques into a toolkit which will enable stakeholders to plan for and monitor the impact of activities, such as mining and major construction projects over an extended period of time. Ground and aerial data will be assimilated into the platform which will explore new ways to visualise the data for non-experts.

Initial engagements with the mining sector in Chile have confirmed the potential value of such a development and initial projects with the Chilean Government are developing the concept into practical demonstrators. Other environmental parameters (such as dust, water pollution and societal impact) are being added through parallel developments with South American countries working with the FCO’s prosperity fund.

Once developed, the concept has huge potential applicability globally, both in monitoring mining activity and helping to eliminate illicit mineral extraction. Developing countries in Africa and India have huge potential economic opportunity in mining but must be helped to develop these sustainably. Similarly, energy extraction (especially fracking) can be monitored in this way. The World Bank has already expressed an interest in the development of the concept.

Sustainable development in Emerging Markets is essential and is likely to present a wide range of opportunities over the coming years. To ensure that UK companies are aware of the opportunities and are well placed to take advantage of them we have launched STARHub. This is a website community to promote satellite applications and enable growth in emerging economies. We have developed this as part of an IPSP project with Inmarsat.

Get Involved

If you would like more information, or to discuss opportunities, please email:

The Catapult is running a series of workshops in the Sustainable Living domain – you can find details in our events section.

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