Finding it problematic to formulate a business case for Earth Observation data? Those in the public sector may soon find it easier, thanks to a new initiative from the Geospatial Commission.
News that The Geospatial Commission will initiate a commercial Earth Observation (EO) pilot to test how the UK public sector can more efficiently access and use the satellite-acquired data will be welcomed by many. The pilot will be delivered in partnership with Airbus Defence and Space, run until the end of March 2024, and help unlock the value of EO technology in critical public services across a range of use cases, from environmental policy and local planning to emergency incident response.
The initiative follows research co-funded by the Geospatial Commission and Satellite Applications Catapult that found growing demand for EO data across 154 use cases from 125 organisations. Importantly, it also identified key barriers to the public sector’s wider adoption of EO data. These include varying levels of technical understanding, the challenge of keeping pace with the offerings from a domestic EO market that contributes some £106 billion to UK GDP (‘Size & Health of the UK Space Industry 2022’, know.space report for the UK Space Agency, March 2023), and of establishing a robust case for investment.
Some 100 users in up to 35 public sector organisations will participate in the pilot and be able to access and test Very High Resolution (VHR) EO data via Airbus’ OneAtlas platform. The data available will include mosaic coverage of the whole of the UK, with high quality pixels and extremely low cloud cover.
This latest move is in support of the government’s UK Geospatial Strategy, published in July 2020, which highlighted the significance of location data and its potential to transform the UK’s economy, public services, and decision-making processes.