At this very moment, people and businesses all over the world are struggling with questions that could be answered with Earth Observation (EO) data.
Where is the best place to plant my crop? How can we ramp up local conservation efforts? How can we protect our food supply chain?
“Making sure that people have access to [EO] data will enable them to start answering important questions,” says Jamie Conklin, VP of Product at Astraea. But here’s the problem, and it’s a massive one: “Finding the data and getting access to these data is a pain.”
That’s because satellite images come in myriad forms (raster, vector,
tabular) and different types (RF, AIS, DEM, DOQ) from various sources (NASA, USGS, UNEP) in numerous locations. Oh, and they often require different extraction methods. And even if you’re able to find the data, you then need to figure out how to obtain and purchase it.
If you’re able to get past that problem, you now need to sift through this enormous heap of noise to find what you can actually use—which in many cases requires you to figure out what it is you’re looking at, so you can read it and draw conclusions.
So, if you’re one of those people whose challenge could be solved by EO data, you’re dealing with a whole new set of questions. Where would you even start? Who would you even talk to?
Search as a Service
Jamie says he and his partners built Astraea “to remove these obstacles” so that people and companies could “become aware of what was possible with all of these data that were available.”
Astraea is “democratizing access to Earth observation data,” Jamie says, with a platform that “solves the problem of figuring out which data you need, and how to get it at a reasonable price, how to store it, how to share it across the company, how to process it, and then how to disseminate that and get that out to users.”
So, what does Astraea do to get previously inaccessible data so readily into the hands of clients? A lot.
It starts with satellite imagery companies—the organizations that are actually capturing the pictures clients need. This industry traditionally only works with large buyers (governments and the like), but it has also created “reseller networks” to allow companies like Astraea to gain access to their images.
So, when a client asks Astraea to go find data they need, Astraea acquires
the imagery data from one of these satellite imagery providers. Astraea’s
platform then delivers the images to clients.
“They can log in to our tool called EarthAI and they have access to all the imagery,” Jamie says, “plus all the public imagery that we index and make available. And so now they have this interactive Web application where they can search across space, time, and cloud cover, and dataset.”