Global-1 satellite shot of Iron Ore Transhipment Facility, Port Hedland, Western Australia. Credit: BlackSky

WASHINGTON — Geospatial intelligence provider BlackSky, looking to fill a demand for telework capabilities, is offering remote access to its global monitoring services and satellite imaging.

“Given the coronavirus pandemic, intelligence analysts, financial analysts and researchers are seeking solutions that allow teams to continue critical security and intelligence projects while working remotely,” BlackSky CEO Brian O’Toole, said in April 22.

The company said its telework tools are cyber secure and allow analysts to develop intelligence reports and share unclassified information. Users of the BlackSky service draw intelligence from a combination of remote sensing satellite images, environmental sensors, asset tracking sensors, internet-of-things systems, local foreign news, social media, industry publications and financial reports. The information is analyzed with machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques.

“A significant portion of our workforce works from home. We’ve been longtime adopters of a lot of these collaborative tools,” BlackSky’s chief technology officer Scott Herman told SpaceNews.

Many of the company’s customers across U.S. national security and intelligence agencies are used to working in secure facilities. After the pandemic hit, suddenly they found themselves having to telework and realized they didn’t have remote access to data or tools needed to do their jobs, and they had security concerns, said Herman.

BlackSky’s telework package, called Spectra On-Demand Secure Bundle, was designed for intelligence analysts who handle unclassified but still sensitive information. It can be accessed online from any computer. “We’re providing access to our satellites for tasking, we’re providing access to other satellites for tasking and archiving data” and a wide range of sensors used for global monitoring, said Herman. The services also include training on the methodology involved in capturing data. Analysts still have to go to secure facilities to work with classified information but much of their unclassified work can be done from home, he said.

Herman said the coronavirus pandemic has fueled demand for telework tools and has increased organizations’ appetite for up to the minute intelligence from around the world. Companies like BlackSky are responding to these demands but face the same obstacles from the pandemic as every satellite operator, such as launch delays, access to launch sites and facility closures. BlackSky has four satellites in operation and plans to launch eight more later this year.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...