Why Space Data Is The New Big Data

Space Data is about to get big. Thanks to the growing sophistication and falling cost of satellites, more businesses than ever are looking to the “final frontier” for insights which can be put to use here on Earth.

That’s the conclusion of a report that has just been published by Sparks & Honey. The trend forecasters surveyed thought leaders from around the globe on what the billions of dollars’ worth of private investment pouring into space projects would mean for industry on this planet.

(Image from here)

They found that thanks to the ever-growing number of increasingly affordable satellite services, new uses for “space data” are opening up across many industries. In farming, satellite data can be used to monitor factors which influence crop yield. In real estate, areas prone to flooding or sinkholes can be more accurately identified, impacting property developments and prices. In retail, foot traffic around shopping centres can be monitored in real-time, giving an increased overview of how customers behave.

“Overview” is the operative word, with space data – according to Sparks & Honey CEO Terry Young, who told me “The idea was to look at the innovations that are going to be created over the next 15 years on our journey to Mars and beyond, and to find from those innovations – which are very science or engineering-focused – what the implications are for organizations and consumers, back here on Earth.

“We’ve been talking about Big Data for a long time, and this takes us on the journey to start understanding space data and space analytics. Not too many people in the commercial sector have got their hands around it yet, they don’t fully understand the implications of all of this data.”

Because of the traditionally sky-high cost of launching satellites and keeping them in space, where they can generate data with cameras, sensors and scanners, most application of space data has in the past been carried out by Governments.

In the public sector, they have long been used to monitor conflicts, track the flow of refugees and gather terrestrial or space data for research purposes.

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