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Public bodies to test use of satellite data



UK Space Agency pumps £700,00 into projects pairing authorities with private sector specialists

A group of councils and central government agencies are to be involved in a series of pilots for the use of satellite data to support services and research.

The projects, led by private sector specialists in the field, have been awarded more than £700,000 overall under the UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme, which also involves training for policymakers and access to data and industry expertise.

The agency said it could help to bring new satellite applications to the market, as well as providing solutions for various public service issues.

It highlighted the involvement of Bournemouth Borough Council in a project, led by sustainable energy consultancy Energeo, using satellite imagery, open data and machine learning to develop an interactive map based user interface. This should help the council in rolling out the charging points for electric vehicles around the borough.

The other projects involve:

  • Sedgemoor District Council and data tool developer City Science, using position, navigation and timing data to support transport planning.
  • Cherwell District Council, working with Geospatial Insight on assessing how air pollution exposure affects public sector policy and programmes. The company will lead a team of SMEs in demonstrating how data can be used in interventions for healthcare and urban planning.
  • UK Hydrographic Office with IT services provider Scisys in a project to understand patterns of life in congested marine environments. Radar and optical satellite imagery will be used to capture data on smaller vessels to combine with that from the automatic identification systems on larger ones.
  • The Environment Agency on the regular remote assessment of structural condition of the critical national infrastructure, such as power stations, railways, gas storage facilities and flood defences. The project will be led by satellite survey specialist Geomatic Ventures.
  • A second project for the agency – working with satellite remote sensing specialist Argans – to provide information on marine litter.
  • The Greater London Authority and Ambiental Environmental Assessment, using satellite and Earth observation data in surface water flood forecasting and to identify changing patterns of green space in urban areas.
  • Network Rail with CGG NPA Satellite Mapping, using Earth observation data to support soil moisture evaluation. If successful, it should improve Network Rail’s ability to identify the most at-risk parts of its network.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “These projects demonstrate the potential of satellite technology to benefit life on Earth with innovative solutions to challenges ranging from monitoring plastic waste in the sea to supporting the roll out of charge points for electric cars.

“As set out in our Industrial Strategy, the UK Space Agency is working together with industry to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age. The Space for Smarter Government Programme is transforming the way the public sector works. It will stimulate innovation and growth, while helping the public sector save money and improve decision making.”

Image from NOAA, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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