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Need to blend free satellite images with paid ones

Bangalore, India: Blending free distribution of satellite images with paid images was essential to ensure a sustainable business model, according to Tom Snitch, Senior Advisor, Global Issues, Geoeye.

Speaking on ‘Commercialisation of Space-Remote Sensing Systems Applications and Value Additions’ in the ongoing Bengaluru Space Expo-2010, he said one of the major issues was the question of “distribution of low-price or free images from public imaging systems in direct competition with commercial providers. Satellite imaging was very expensive. Hence there was need for building up a viable business model to generate a steady revenue stream.”

He added, “An ideal situation would be having a blend of both free public images and commercial paid images. The recent oil spill in the Gulf was an example where many of the images were distributed free to enable government, interested groups and environmentalists study the area, over a time period. But there were also images that were paid for by a commercial enterprise for a commercial purpose. However a distinction had to be clearly made when it came to disasters.

Providing free images was imperative during a disaster like the Haiti Earthquake to aid rescue and rehabilitation work and help the first respondents. Currently, an individual was able to have free public images of his city or country thanks to Google. Googlisation has also led to more demand and better revenues for companies involved in selling images.”

According to Rupert Haydn, CEO, GAFAG, Germany, “Supply of data would grow compared to demand. With more and more providers of images, what would eventually count is value addition and the quality of services provided to customers.”

Brett Davis of International Sales, DigitalGlobe, said, “Advanced technology could help integrate images and build 3D models of a location, which could help in value addition.”

Speaking on the issue of licensing, Scientific Secretary ISRO, Dr V S Hegde said, “The licensing policy in terms of imaging could not be uniform in all countries as these images could be used for different purposes. India would be looking at its licensing policy in days to come.”

Source: IBN Live