DigitalGlobe adding Radarsat imagery to geospatial big data platform

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — DigitalGlobe announced plans June 5 to augment its cloud-based geospatial big data platform, GBDX, with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from Radarsat-2, a satellite launched in 2007 by the Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, the firm that announced plans in February to acquire DigitalGlobe.

By combining SAR data, which provides observations in all light and weather conditions, with DigitalGlobe’s optical imagery, GBDX will allow customers to perform actions that were previously impossible, Shay Har-Noy, vice president and general manager of DigitalGlobe’s Platform business unit, said in a statement.

For example, a GBDX user seeking to monitor illegal logging in a specific area could use GBDX to find Radarsat-2 images for the area and apply a change-detection tool to the images to reveal areas of suspected illegal logging. Then, GBDX could provide the user with high-resolution optical imagery of the highlighted areas for closer inspection.

Similarly, national security agencies could use GBDX to pinpoint new military structures and activities. “In this case, GBDX would compare historical Radarsat-2 imagery with new imagery and automatically detect new man-made structures, which appear as bright spots,” according to the DigitalGlobe announcement. “Further assessment of the structures and activities could then be done using high-resolution optical imagery.”

In addition to DigitalGlobe’s 100-petabyte image library, GBDX includes data from the NASA-U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat and the European Space Agency’s Sentinel Earth-observation satellites. DigitalGlobe plans to continue to expand GBDX with geospatial data from various sources as well as applications and machine-learning algorithms from a wide array of developers, Walter Scott, DigitalGlobe’s founder, CTO and executive vice president, told SpaceNews in a recent interview.

“Putting our SAR data on the GBDX platform opens up new markets and revenue streams for us,” David Belton, MDA’s Vice President, Geospatial Services, said in the announcement. “DigitalGlobe has developed an industry-leading platform for analyzing and exploiting geospatial content at scale, and making our data accessible to the GBDX developer ecosystem will enhance valuable and complex analytics that are required for applications such as supply chain monitoring, disaster response and persistent monitoring.”