Innovation and Efficiency

26.10.18

Councils get free access to satellite images and data from UK space programme

Councils are to be provided with free access to thousands of satellite images and radar data from satellites to help with planning and development projects.

The UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme (SSGP) will give local authorities high-resolution images which will provide an “unprecedented level of detail of major British cities” as well as transport networks, national parks and energy infrastructure.

This type of satellite sate is already being used in a number of pilot projects with councils, with Bournemouth Borough Council combining it with machine learning to identify the best locations for electric vehicle charge points in the city.

The government expects a high level of demand from the public sector, which offer sub 5m resolution with less than 15% cloud cover.

The technology will help “tackle public sector challenges,” and along with the vast number of new images now available for free, SSGP said there is significant potential for further innovations.

The science minister Sam Gyimah said this is a great example of how the modern Industrial Strategy and its support for the thriving space sector is spurring innovation at a local level and driving growth in public services.

He said: “From monitoring plastic pollution to supporting the next generation of electric vehicles, satellite imaging is transforming our society from the skies.”

Sara Huntingdon, the UK Space Agency’s SSGP manager, said: “Until now there has been a perceived financial barrier to the public sector, academics and start-ups accessing high resolution data from satellites, so this is great news for the UK space sector.

“We hope it will break down barriers, enable rapid prototyping and stimulate the next wave of satellite enabled application development.

“We are trying something that has not been done before across the whole UK Government, and I am really excited to see the results.”

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Image credit - Inok

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