There are a number of trends — both in technology as well as marketplace — that are converging and affecting our industry. One key trend is miniaturization and pervasiveness of sensors which has drastically decreased the cost to deploy these sensors into space. Naturally, we now have more near real-time data about the world than we’ve ever had before.
Another trend is the proliferation of data — geospatial as well as non-geospatial — which has led to the commoditization of computing infrastructure. Just 10 years ago it would have been impossible to think about productizing the deluge of remote sensing data if there wasn’t a modern-day Cloud computing service. These advancements in geospatial data and Cloud computing combined with tools like machine learning and analytics are powering smarter, data-driven decisions about our world.
From data to analytics
The first thing I would say is bring it on, it’s awesome! That is the community and the platform that we need in our sector to really bring geospatial advantage to the enterprises, because there is a need for industry-specific applications driven by spatial information that solves customers problems.
That is where we want to be. At Planet, we are keen to go into every single vertical and come up with intelligent solutions in addition to the best data available. We want more industries and companies to embrace these new products driven by spatial information feeds, and give us their feedback so we can incorporate it into our core offerings. It is important to be a full-stack company that effectively enables other businesses to go further up the value chain. We would like to play a critical role in building this ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs to translate the science of remote sensing into real business needs.
Future of EO is in space infrastructure
Planet is a great example of an agile company that takes off-the-shelf consumer electronics and adapts them to work in space. Today, we have very high-performing yet very low-cost compact satellites and sensors in space. This started the new trend of small, cost-effective satellites, and this is going to continue. Aggregation and diversification of sensor networks in space for enhanced resilience will further pick up pace. We will see a lot of that in the next ten years as the US government, in particular, begins to rethink their overhead architecture.
When we started Planet seven years ago we didn’t know this would be the obvious trend and there weren’t a lot of companies in the commercial start-up space. So, we ended up having to build the entire infrastructure ourselves and it took us five years to do that.
Today, there is so much already available in the market as a service for entrepreneurs who are just starting a business, that one can get a differentiating product in the market much easily than we did. Now, you have ground station networks, mission control services, and Cloud computing infrastructure already available. For instance, Amazon’s initiative to launch ground station as a service is really all about its Cloud computing capability. It really is a smart move because ground stations are expensive and this also allows resiliency across the national border in case Internet services are disrupted.
There is really a massive opportunity that the geospatial industry right now faces as we climb from being something like a small cottage industry to being a specialty industry requiring people to know everything about satellites and remote sensing science.
Think about how the Internet completely changed how businesses worked 20 years ago. The same will be the case with geospatial intelligence driven by machine learning technologies. It will become an enabling infrastructure that makes businesses and individuals more productive and more effective.