When Surveillance Is Your Friend – Or Doing “Geo-Spatial” One Better
A Longmont, Colorado company, Digital Globe, that specializes in satellite imaging (or taking pictures of earthlings from space) has been one of the main sources for information about how things look, literally, since March 12th, at the Dai Ichi Power Plant in northern Japan. As shown, on March 14, 2011 between 11:00 and 11:04 AM local time, DigitalGlobe’s constellation of satellites imaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant twice–approximately 1 minute before and approximately 3 minutes after an explosion at the No. 3 reactor building. Substantial damage could be seen to the reactor building, including the upper structure being largely destroyed and the building’s roof and side panels blown off. In addition, an extensive smoke and dust plume could be seen drifting east.
But not only disaster chronicles are part of Digital Globe’s efforts. Digital Globe and the Satellite Sentinal Project work in the Abyei region of Sudan – where looking down and zooming in can (and has) literally meant preventing genocide. (Would they could train some satellites on where precisely the Chinese have put Ai Weiwei.) The company describes its founders as “scientists and GIS mapping users” who wanted access to a high-quality earth imagery and “geospatial information products” that had not been available before (in 2009, the company made a public stock offering of a little more than $246 million).
From participation in Microsoft earth-mapping to BING maps to conferences on drug trafficking in Mexico, and “environmental sensing” of conditions that are perhaps not quite so graphically photogenic yet remote as photography can be, the company last week, April 16-19, was at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. So what if it’s not the final frontier, after all? (For the limited edition Japan relief t-shirt, please go to the link.)