SPC wins satellite imaging awards

Team covers activity costs with workload

Many eyes will be focused on the Pacific Islands Forum and the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. But there are also smaller happenings that should grab the attention of Pacific Island leaders. One such is the winning of two awards by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (AGTD, previously SOPAC) from the world’s leading provider of satellite imagery, DigitalGlobe Inc. based in Colorado, USA. This should be of interest to Pacific Island countries because they currently receive the highest-resolution satellite image data commercially available at some of the lowest prices on the planet. Cost-effective delivery of service by SPC, the only authorised reseller of DigitalGlobe products in the Pacific Island region (not including Australia and New Zealand), has driven increased sales of satellite imagery.

This has led to SPC receiving a DigitalGlobe Reseller Excellence Award 2014 for the highest sales volume in the Asia-Pacific region. SPC purchases satellite imagery data from DigitalGlobe at around one-third of the average global price. This price, along with the additional reseller discount received by SPC, is passed on directly to Pacific Island countries. The result is an exceptional deal for Pacific Island governments accessing state-of-the-art satellite imaging technology. This type of imaging has a variety of applications across different government ministries and sectors, including forestry, land planning, agriculture, geology, fisheries, port operations, disaster management, infrastructure and urban planning, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and education.

At the very least, it allows Pacific Island countries to replace long-outdated aerial maps and cartographic data. Another factor influencing the region’s demand for satellite imagery has been an innovation at SPC that improves satellite image quality. Prevailing weather conditions can affect the quality of images captured by satellites. This is a major challenge in the Pacific, where humid, tropical conditions drive cloud cover and other disturbances in the imaging process. Wolf Forstreuter, a GIS specialist who leads the GIS and remote sensing team at SPC, explains that, while the fringing reef of an island may be in full sun, there is often cloud cover hovering over parts of the island. And with elevated islands, the different sides of a hill will often have different levels of atmospheric moisture.

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