Space Agency opens library of satellite images for public sector use

More than 1,000 pieces of optical and radar data are now available under licence


Photo: European Space Agency

By Sam Trendall

26 Mar 2019

The UK Space Agency has announced it is giving public bodies free access to a wide range of the satellite and radar data to help them develop infrastructure, transport and other services.

The agency's Space for Smarter Government Programme has agreed a cross-government licence covering the use of more than 1,000 images gathered using satellite and radar technologies. Between them, the images capture 85% of the UK’s area.

For the next two years at least, any public sector organisations can obtain the data through an online portal, or by emailing SSGP. To help them get the most out of the data, public entities can also request access for expert partners from industry or academia.


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The imagery can be used to assist decision-making and delivery in areas such as infrastructure, transport, and environmental services.

Simon Agass, the UK Space Agency’s lead applications technologist, told CSW's sister publication PublicTechnology that his organisation can help local authorities and government bodies connect with tech firms that could assist them in making use of the data.

He said: “There will always be specialists who want to get their hands dirty with the data. There will also be those users who can see the benefit of using satellite data, but do not have the skills in house to do so. That is why we were keen to support public sector organisations, and make some introductions.”

Agass added that, to “lower the barrier” to entry and encourage people to get involved, later this year SSGP intends to host one-day courses on basic processing of satellite data – which is likely to require the use of specialist software.

The contracting deal covers optical data from Airbus, and radar data from Telespazio Vega. Images are being stored on a satellite storage system located at the Satellite Applications Catapult in Oxfordshire.

The data could be useful for a variety of different agencies, according to Agass.

He said: “There could be many applications that this data that this satellite data could be used for, such as planning, and how to understand what is changing in your local environment. It could also be used by an environmental agency for monitoring and management.”

SSGP was launched in 2014 with a six-year remit to raise awareness of space technology, and facilitate access to satellite data and applications.

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