With the launch of its QuickBird satellite in October 2001, DigitalGlobe became the world’s highest resolution commercial satellite imagery provider, offering images with 60-centimeter resolution. Chuck Herring shares his thoughts on Remote Sensing issues
What all are the activities in the field of Remote Sensing (RS) that DigitalGlobe has been into?
DigitalGlobe has not been immune to the risks associated with building and launching satellites. The company’s first two failed attempts at launching QuickBird were significant events – and could have meant failure for DigitalGlobe as a company. DigitalGlobe has worked in about 30 different markets to date and has seen about a 40% growth year to year in the commercial markets.
What technological edge does DigitalGlobe enjoys in RS technologies?
The QuickBird spacecraft collects the world’s highest resolution commercial imagery of the Earth, and boasts the largest image size and the greatest on-board storage capacity of any other satellite. The 60-centimeter resolution of QuickBird images allows objects on the ground as small as 60 centimeters – or two feet-across to be seen. DigitalGlobe’s ImageLibrary has most comprehensive, up-to-date images available in the world.
Have any collaborative arrangements been made by DigitalGlobe with public agency?
DigitalGlobe has worked with several different public agencies including the federal and local levels, and all have worked out extremely well. One example is our work in the local government market. As we started to develop more long term partnerships with some local government agencies, we quickly realized that we had to change our pricing and licensing for this market.
Working in partnership with local government, we adjusted our licensing policy by developing long-term subscription models to help accommodate local government requirements. We also work collaboratively with our business partners around the world to understand their regional requirements.
How has the company been addressing security and defence related issues?
To manage the distribution of sensitive imagery, DigitalGlobe adheres to U.S. policies as well as established company policies. DigitalGlobe complies with all U.S. Government regulations and restricts access to imagery as required.
DigitalGlobe also takes the threat of terrorism very seriously and has policies to avoid the release of sensitive material. DigitalGlobe checks all new potential customers against a “Denied Parties List” supplied daily by the U.S. Government before selling imagery. DigitalGlobe also restricts distribution of imagery where national security is at risk or where U.S. assets overseas may be placed at risk. Finally, DigitalGlobe will not release any sub-meter-resolution imagery within 24 hours of its collection, allowing the U.S. Government to put a hold on potentially dangerous imagery and exercise standard operational security.
Kindly update us on Worldview and its technological advancements?
WorldView will be the world’s only commercial satellite to snap pictures of the Earth at 50-centimeter resolution. The satellite’s higher orbit of nearly 800 kilometers will allow it to revisit collection areas more frequently, letting customers repeat their image acquisitions about once a day.
The WorldView system will include more efficient image processing systems and multi-satellite collection planning, shorter tasking timelines, and an expanded network of remote ground terminals.
What are the major application areas where RS can be used?
The public may be most interested in local government applications, such as transportation planning, economic development, infrastructure management and environmental preservation.