During the Pandemic, SkyWatch of Waterloo, Ontario, has seen an uptick in customer interest in remote monitoring of facilities and infrastructure like this port in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, captured by Planet's SkySat constellation. Credit: SkyWatch

SAN FRANCISCO – SkyWatch Space Applications, the Canadian startup whose EarthCache platform helps software developers embed geospatial data and imagery in applications, announced a partnership Oct. 5 with Picterra, a Swiss startup with a self-service platform to help customers autonomously extract information from aerial and satellite imagery.

“One of the things that has been very difficult to achieve is this ability to easily and affordably access satellite data in a way that is fast but also in a way in which you can derive the insights you need for your particular business,” James Slifierz, SkyWatch CEO told SpaceNews. “What if you can merge both the accessibility of this data with an ease of developing and applying intelligence to the data so that any company in the world could have the tools to derive insights?”

SkyWatch’s EarthCache platform is designed to ease access to aerial and satellite imagery. However, SkyWatch doesn’t provide data analysis.

Picterra is not a data provider. Instead, the company helps customers build their own machine-learning algorithms to detect things like building footprints in imagery customers either upload or find in Picterra’s library of open-source imagery.

“Thanks to the combination of EarthCache’s automated tasking request feature and Picterra’s automated detection algorithms, everyone can take advantage of previously unseen monitoring and alerting capabilities,” Monika Ambrozowicz, Picterra product marketing manager, told SpaceNews by email . “Now, it’s possible to monitor economic activity, changes in infrastructure, refugee camps, deforestation – possibilities are endless.”

Slifierz said the partnership “knocks down one of the barriers to growth for this market.”

If it’s easier for customers to derive insights from satellite data, demand for data will increase, driving demand for satellites and launch capacity, he added.

Before the partnership with SkyWatch, Picterra customers worked primarily with aerial imagery.

“Accessing satellite imagery was much more difficult for our users,” Ambrozowicz, said. “The partnership with SkyWatch is a game-changer for the significant number of users who need to work with medium and high-resolution [satellite] imagery and who struggle to acquire it.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...