InCubed initiatives focus on data quality improvement and change monitoring
Three activities launched under co-funding from the ESA InCubed programme respond to customer needs for improved information quality and precise measurement of trends and variations by exploiting Earth observation (EO) assets. Targeted sectors include agri-food, environmental protection, mining and oil and gas.
NEO (NL): SINERGI service
Earth observation data from optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors provides a wealth of information for an ever-increasing number of business applications, but there is often a lack of verification of such data from other sources. Dutch company NEO is developing SINERGI, a novel service that improves reliability by combining EO-derived change detection with crowd-sourced data and publicly available information.
NEO Chief Operating Officer Jan Erik Wien explains: “SINERGI represents a major step forward in the fusion of satellite and non-space data. It uses semantic integration technologies to add validation and additional context to EO-based information services, enabling customers to make informed and data-driven decisions in their operations and helping them to meet their ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance] commitments. Typical Big Data pools feeding into SINERGI might include local government records, planning permission documents or even social media posts.”
The intended customer segments for the service vary from governing authorities in areas such as construction, forestry law enforcement and environmental inspection, to private-sector businesses like insurance companies. SINERGI has now completed its main development and is being piloted with customers in the fields of building-related information and invasive plant species in waterways.
ABACO (IT): FIbEO product
Another example of fusing EO and ground-based data is FIbEO, a product conceived by the ABACO group and aimed at the food production industry. “We recognised a gap in the market in terms of information availability for guaranteeing food quality,” says ABACO Project Manager Marco Bonfigli. “For a given crop, agricultural players need to understand current biomass status, have access to intelligent yield estimates and be able to cross-check compliance with specifications. The FIbEO platform will provide such aggregated insight through ML [Machine Learning] algorithms that draw on both satellite imagery and historical data, ultimately helping growers, consortia and control bodies to create trustworthy food supply chains.”
The first target segment for FIbEO is viniculture, with collaboration currently ongoing with growers in Italy’s Chianti region. The first release of the platform will enable wineries not only to predict output but also to identify dead vines in the field in near-real time.
TRE Altamira (IT): BulletInSAR service
Turning once again to the topic of change detection through SAR sensing, Copernicus Sentinel-1 and other radar imaging constellations enable mm-accurate displacements of the Earth’s surface to be measured from space, providing invaluable information to operators in sectors such as mining, energy, civil engineering and civil protection agencies. TRE Altamira already provides customers with remote sensing ground-deformation information on their assets of interest, but the satellite data stream currently requires significant human processing in order to produce actionable end-user reports.
Feedback from TRE Altamira’s clients identified the requirement for faster response times, greater capacity for monitoring multiple assets and supplementary details on measurement reliability. BulletInSAR is the company’s solution, a tool that will deliver timely, scalable deformation reports by adopting an ML-based unsupervised process to cut out the human bottleneck.
Alessandro Ferretti is the company’s CEO: “Innovation and pushing the technology envelope have always been key elements of TRE Altamira’s identity, and BulletInSAR is no exception. As development gets underway, we’re really pitching for a superior user experience, a solution that will deliver fully automated reports using a cloud-hosted interface with tailored results screening. Co-funding from InCubed is of course a powerful enabler for TRE Altamira, helping to propel us forward as we take market-driven SAR ground-displacement reporting to the next level.”
ESA InCubed Officer Piera di Vito continues the theme: “All three of these activities are a perfect fit for InCubed’s DNA: supporting innovative ideas that spot a commercial need for AI-driven, EO-sourced data and insight. We are proud to see and help sustain such a competitive and dynamic ecosystem in the Earth observation domain, and the fact that SINERGI, FIbEO and BulletInSAR are at different stages in their development amply demonstrates the end-to-end nurturing that InCubed provides, from concept through to market readiness.”
Copernicus Sentinel-1A image courtesy of ESA/DLR Microwaves and Radar Institute/GFZ/e-GEOS/INGV–ESA SEOM INSARAP study, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO