Accuracy and Authenticity in Earth Observation Data

Accuracy and Authenticity in Earth Observation Data

Image Credit: Pexels

We live in a world today where the gathering and analysis of volumes of data is integral to our future survival, with Earth Observation Data (EOD) becoming one of the most invaluable tools for providing an understanding of and evaluating the systems we have in place.

EOD is basically the collection, analysis and presentation of data collected via remote-sensing technologies and surveying techniques, leveraged to monitor and assess the status of changes across both natural and human-engineered environments. Put simply, it is the gathering of information on planet Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems to understand, model and predict natural processes as well as the current and future state and dynamics of the human-Earth system.

The process is typically carried out by satellites, aircrafts and drones, in-situ (stationary) measurements and/or ground-based monitoring stations, taking photos and videos that provide unique and timely sources of data, which are commensurable across countries, regions and cities.

We take a look at how EOD is instrumental in shaping in today’s world, particularly when it comes to the information collated by satellites. We also explore some of its invaluable cross-industry benefits as well as the necessity for this information to be both accurate and authentic for it to be deployed effectively:

Image Credit: Pixabay

Exponential growth across the public and private sectors

EOD can be applied across almost every major industry existent today, such as climate science, defence, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, finance, insurance, and the industrial and civil sectors.

Take for example the governmental management of natural disasters. Detailed remote sensing from satellites can predict geo-physical events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, droughts, floods, cyclones and fires. It can also assist in the mitigation, preparation, response and recovery stages during and after their occurrence.While thermal sensors spot active fires, infrared sensor technology can track for floods. Microwave sensors are also commonly used to measure the different stages of earthquakes as well as volcanic eruptions. In short, EOD technology helps considerably in saving lives whenever these disasters occur.

Another sector where EOD is advantageous is in the defence arena, with governments understandably pouring in considerable resources (61% of  the entire EOD market) towards constant real-time monitoring to maintain national security. This has opened up the playing field for apps like Spiral Blue to join the race in regards to helping governments bolster their defence observation capabilities, identifying illegal activities at sea by using artificial intelligence to autonomously detect, identify, and track surface activities and objects.

On the private enterprise front, the use of EOD has been growing exponentially, with the finance industry leveraging satellite technology to gather vital information for risk analysis means. An example of this is in the farming sector where financial institutions create a combined cash flow forecasting model (based on the state of crop, weather etc.) and credit scoring tools to generate farmers’ risk profiles and scores. This enables analysts to design suitable loan products for them in a systematic and scalable way. Insurance companies use similar techniques to ascertain areas that are more prone to natural disasters, keeping coverage policies economical for policyholders while still remaining profitable.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Data needs to be authentic and verifiable

Due to the wide use of EOD to provide verifiable evidence of changes taking place on our planet, it is crucial that this data collected must be authentic and verifiable.

Satellite images used in court by insurance companies as evidence, for example, need to prove authenticity in terms of the exact times that the images are taken, that the images haven’t been altered from their original form as well as their legitimacy of ownership and intellectual property.

A major solution to mitigate lapses in accuracy in this area is by using blockchain technology to increase security for the EOD industry – allowing for images to be timestamped by the satellite’s on- board clock and then encrypted and broadcast to the blockchain network. Parameters can also be set for images to be shared only with certain individuals/entities – a practice that is proving to be highly popular across an industry where the sensitive and confidential handling of information is of utmost importance.

The area of EOD security is one that is central to SpaceChain’s vision. We are currently developing technology aimed at addressing the need to verify the integrity of satellite data, and are confident that our distributed ledger technology will allow us to introduce a robust EOD commercialisation platform to the space industry.

 

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