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Satellite Data Protects Farmers and Prevents Piracy

The Satellite Applications Catapult’s Oxford Branch has been working on a project to protect the environment. They look into boats that turn off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) because they think that then they cannot be found while illegally fishing. Yet they can be found – using satellites. There are plans to notify authorities if anything illegal might be going on.

This centre wants to make sure that businesses know that this kind of data exists so that businesses can better use satellites in the workplace and boost the U.K. Into being a notable presence in using satellites globally, according to Alan Cox who directs trading at the centre.

A council called Milton Keynes will begin utilizing satellite data this September to record illegal activities. Photos taken four times a year will show the computer any changes that occur in the buildings. A blueprint that has been approved will appear in blue, and the actual construction will appear in orange. Where the plan and reality do not match, Milton Keynes investigates. Before such technology, teams of five were in charge of 340 square kilometers and needed to hear a tip from a neighbor to catch violators.

“One of the reasons the Catapults have been set up is this criticism of the UK by the UK that we are brilliant at innovation but terrible at commercialising it – we lose the idea or give the idea away. So part of this is taking existing technology, existing capability, and talking to customers with real-world problems,” Cox said.

“The issue is that, if we do nothing, then we will be buying Chinese [and] Indian applications rather than at least having a share of the market.”

Satellites today can magnify so close that each pixel represents 50cm. That makes houses and cars well-pictured and easy to recognise. Data such as Geospatial Insight can tell an insurance company how much damage was cause by flood. Such data may also soon be used by financial institutions to predict things such as how much palm oil will be produced any given season.

Director Dave Fox said that such advancements in technology has made possible that which one couldn’t even imagine several years ago.

“Five years ago, there were probably 10 to 15 useful satellites that you could apply into this type of market,” he said. “The problem was that a satellite might only come over a particular spot every 26 days or every 30 days. It was very hard to get the [repetition] to deliver a reliable service.

“There are probably now 120 useful satellites as of today and this year it is probably going to be nearer 200.”

Swindon-based AgSpace, a company who employs 20, began utilizing satellite photos to assess crop health. Pictures of large areas of land are analyzed for farmers working on anywhere from 200 to 10,000 acres. These data can tell soil types and the quality of a yield in addition to other data. This way, farmers will know how to best use each field.

“What used to take two, three, four years in trials with academics, we can now look at the data and do in hours,” director Vincent Gillingham said.

Another company, WeatherSafe of Oxfordshire, will use the satellite information to help farmers know how to take care of their land and crops. They’ll do this by organising and coming to conclusions from data about plant health, soil absorption, among other factors. This process could be used in any agricultural production, according to direcor Francesco Liucci.

Now it is possible that many small satellites will go into orbit and therefore, the huge quantity of data produced will become cheaper. An AgSpace subscriber might pay £5 to £10 every year for each hectare, depending on what options he signed up for. A Milton Keynes farmer will pay £100,000, getting satellite photos and the groups analytic interpretation, Cox said.

Even responders to disasters can take advantage of satellite photos. Such satellite, called Sentinal 1A is part of al bunch of satellites that was part of European Space Agency’s Copernicus Earth  and launched April third. If a natural disaster happens, the satellite’s images will be available to deal with the aftermath. This helpful friend in the sky already did it’s part in Bosnia and Herzegovina by making a map of the flooding. Sentinal 1A’s images are free for everyone.

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