Governments and news organizations used satellites in orbit run by private businesses to explain Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Players in this sector are looking to expand their businesses by offering analytics solutions that extract patterns and insights from raw data as well as imagery with the momentum from these operations.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which last year announced a $29 million procurement of data analytics services over five years, is the primary client for these services. According to David Gauthier, NGA’s Commercial and Business Operations Group director, the agency plans to increase buys as businesses develop new products.
In the past, the government has relied on its own analysts to extract information from images. However, Gauthier said on September 15 at the Intelligence & National Security Summit hosted at National Harbor, Maryland, that NGA has a rising desire for novel forms of analytics services provided by the private sector.
The monitoring functions carried out by tiny satellites that take repeated picture grabs at predetermined intervals are of interest. The regular, automatic collecting, together with the analysis carried out using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, aid in detecting patterns and tracking change.
The industry can do this at a fast pace, Gauthier said. “It reduces the latency for us, it reduces the barriers to operational use and integration into our workflows.”
Gauthier said NGA is using commercial services, for example, to monitor global economic trends. “We’re buying automated detections that tell us things about infrastructure, roads, rails, building damage,” he said. “We’re buying automated detection to tell us about objects, cars, ships, and aircraft.”
According to him, the data sheds light on matters like illicit fishing, GPS interference, and the flow of methane gas that have an impact on both national security and the economy.
Some of the most recent contracts from NGA for economic surveillance have gone to the Earth monitoring and satellite image business BlackSky. BlackSky said on September 19 that the firm received orders for a total of $13.8 million during the previous year.
“These awards underscore the growing demand for commercial real-time, AI-driven monitoring services that reveal economic activity at manufacturing hubs, major maritime ports and airports around the world,” BlackSky said in a statement.