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Earth's Big Data: Transforming Industries with Satellite Insights

Monday, 13 May '24

The Economic Advantages of Earth Observation 

A recent report by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Deloitte, highlights the significant economic potential of Earth Observation (EO). The report estimates that EO data and insights could reach $1.1 trillion in value by 2030, contributing a cumulative $5.8 trillion to global gross domestic product (GDP) between 2023 and 2030 (monetary value is denoted in Australian dollar throughout this article).

There is potential application of EO across nearly all industries with six key industries generating 94% of the value. These are (1) Agriculture, (2) Electricity and Utilities, (3) Government, Public, and Emergency Services, (4) Insurance and Financial Services, (5) Mining, Oil and Gas, and (6) Supply Chain and Transportation. Agriculture has the biggest potential economic value from EO data with an estimate of $604 billion by 2030. This is followed by Mining, Oil and Gas and Government, Public and Emergency Services with $164 billion and $71 billion respectively. 

The Asia Pacific region is poised to capture the lion's share of EO's value, with a potential reach of $477 billion. This dominance can be attributed to factors like strong economic growth, vast landmass, and a growing focus on environmental sustainability.

EO empowers better decision-making with better data. This translates to a significant economic double win: increased productivity and reduced costs. These factors combined directly contribute to higher economic value-added.

The Urgency for Adoption of Earth Observation

Apart from economic value, EO data will be able to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. The report estimates 2 gigatonnes of GHG could be eliminated annually by 2030. The International Energy Agency estimates that Oil and Gas companies could reduce their methane emissions by approximately 45% at no net cost with the integration of EO data into their operations.

A critical window of opportunity exists until 2030, as major international commitments like the UN SDGs, Paris Agreement, and Rio Conventions all reach their target milestones. This convergence highlights the urgent need to adopt EO data for sustainable growth.

The increasingly stringent environmental regulations and the rise of severity and frequency of the effects from climate change amplify this urgency for the adoption of EO data. The anticipated launch of new EO satellites and the potential of enabling technologies steers to accelerate adoption.

The Adaptability of Earth Observation

EO data is a game-changer across industries, offering great benefits for businesses. It not only strengthens financial performance but also aids compliance with environmental regulations. Organisations can leverage EO data to advance their sustainability goals. It helps verify carbon reductions, understand their environmental impact and dependence on nature, and identify strategies for a nature-positive and net-zero future.

The Amplifying the Global Value of Earth Observation report showcases a variety of downstream applications for EO data, including:

  • Enhanced customer experiences

  • Post-event analysis and learning

  • Data-driven site selection

  • Early warning systems for proactive risk management

  • Precision agriculture and aquaculture for optimised yields

  • Real-time supply chain monitoring for transparency and efficiency

  • Environmental impact monitoring for informed decision-making

  • Route optimization for reduced costs and emissions

  • Vulnerability analysis for building resilience

The benefits are far-reaching. EO data can directly boost economic gains, like optimising harvests, while indirectly contributing to the well-being of dependent communities. Furthermore, EO offers a unique value proposition for businesses. By leveraging EO data, they can simultaneously strengthen their performance and resilience, while contributing to a more sustainable future.

EO data is a powerful tool for both climate change mitigation and adaptation. It helps businesses mitigate losses and even thrive under changing environmental conditions. Ultimately, EO data empowers better decision-making with unprecedented insights. This marks a new era in Earth observation, fueled by the exponential growth of satellite technology and its transformative applications across diverse sectors.

The Benefits of Hyperspectral Imagery

Hyperspectral Imagery (HSI) takes EO to a whole new level. It goes beyond what our eyes can see by capturing data across a vast range of the electromagnetic spectrum, not just the visible light range. HSI works by collecting hundreds of very narrow, closely spaced spectral bands, creating incredibly detailed images of Earth's surface. Each pixel in an HSI image contains rich information, revealing much more than a standard image.

This wealth of spectral data allows scientists and analysts to identify and distinguish different materials on Earth's surface with incredible precision. HSI essentially fills in data gaps by providing detailed spectral profiles of the Earth's surface, enabling us to determine the composition of materials in a specific area.

This unmatched level of detail unlocks a vast array of applications for HSI. Here are some examples of how HSI is revolutionising various fields:

  • Precision Agriculture: HSI can identify crop health, detect nutrient deficiencies, and even map different crop varieties across a field. This allows farmers to optimise fertiliser use, improve yields, and reduce environmental impact.

  • Mineral Exploration: By analysing the unique spectral signatures of minerals, HSI can help geologists locate potential mineral deposits and streamline exploration efforts.

  • Forest Management: HSI can be used to monitor forest health, detect invasive species, and assess deforestation rates. This information is crucial for sustainable forest management and conservation efforts.

Within the vast range of data captured by HSI lies a particularly valuable region: Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR). SWIR light boasts unique properties that make it ideal for specific applications. Unlike visible light, SWIR can penetrate moisture and vegetation cover. This superpower makes it perfect for tasks like:

  • Mapping water quality: By analysing how water reflects SWIR light, HSI can help detect pollutants, monitor algae blooms, and assess overall water health.

  • Disaster response: SWIR data can be used to map flood inundation zones, assess fire damage, and monitor volcanic activity, supporting disaster relief efforts.

Technological Advancement with Esper

Esper Satellite Imagery stands at the forefront of the hyperspectral revolution, committed to making this powerful technology accessible and actionable. Our state-of-the-art sensors capture data across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, including the valuable SWIR region. This allows us to provide unparalleled insights, even under challenging environmental conditions.

What truly sets Esper apart is EarthTones, our user-friendly data platform. Through EarthTones, anyone can access and analyse real-time, site-specific hyperspectral data. Whether you're optimising agricultural practices, pinpointing mineral resources, or responding to environmental emergencies, EarthTones empowers you to make data-driven decisions that drive success and sustainability.

Esper is committed to pushing the boundaries of technology and fostering innovation in remote sensing. By democratising access to hyperspectral data, we empower organisations to make a positive impact. EarthTones paves the way for a new era of climate modelling, disaster response, and sustainable resource management.

With Esper, you gain a powerful partner in harnessing the transformative power of hyperspectral data. We invite you to join us on this exciting journey as we shape a brighter future for organisations to easily adopt EO data into their systems. Find out more about EarthTones and experience the power of real-time data here