Stock image of two women looking at code on a laptop and pointing.
Stock image of two women looking at code on a laptop and pointing.

What is GeoAI Mentorship?

Jamie Conklin
Jan 9 · 8 min read

At Astraea, we believe that the greatest data set on Earth is the Earth itself. In this dataset are answers to some of the most important questions facing businesses, governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and humanity as a whole. Unlocking these answers challenges even the most experienced data scientists.

This post will expand on some of the complexities involved with analyzing imagery data, explain how we can help your organization get up and running quickly through our mentorship program, and present some of the technical solutions that Astraea offers for these problems. Getting started with geospatial analytics may feel daunting and perhaps out of reach, but don’t be discouraged. Astraea has the experience, tools, and services to get you from pixels to insights.

“We built our business to enable organizations to take advantage of Earth Observing data.” ~ Daniel Bailey, CTO

What can you do with geospatial analytics?

Earth observation data, whether it is collected from satellites, planes, or drones has a wide range of applications. The three most common uses for these data include:

  • Viewing a scene is useful for real estate, insurance, forensic investigations, and other times users need a single view of a location.
  • Monitoring a location enables utilities, asset managers, landowners, developers, growers, climate researchers, fund managers, marketers, and actuaries, identify important changes or statuses on the ground.
  • Discovering new objects helps catalog large facilities, measure capacities, find resources, and find similar areas across large or global regions.

Why is Geospatial Analysis Different?

Geospatial data are complex. There are projections, geometries, points, lines, and polygons. And then there are rasters — pixel-based data such as imagery and elevation data. Imagery data adds a whole new level of complexity to doing geospatial analysis. Images are large, complex, data sets with lots of important metadata required to process accurately. Until recently, this has limited imagery analysis to humans. Subject to that limitation, the value that could be extracted from these data was constrained to the insights that could be gained by human analysis and processed by the workforce of analysts dedicated to this task.

Today, we see an emergence of machine learning techniques and cloud computing technologies that enable us to process global data sets and extract insights automatically. Even with these improvements, there are several challenges still regularly faced by imagery analysts:

  1. Discovering and accessing imagery data is time-consuming and often challenging.
  2. Even a small geographical area can represent a huge amount of data, demanding automated analysis and requiring cloud computing resources.
  3. Imagery analysis has lagged behind more traditional machine learning (e.g. natural language processing) and so many of the existing techniques and analysis tools do not natively handle raster data.
  4. Imagery analysis tools require deep understanding of the data, programming, and remote sensing to use them effectively.

GeoAI Mentoring

GeoAI Mentoring is a completely customized training experience for organizations that seek to build their in-house analysis capability. While the above challenges make starting a geospatial project sound pretty overwhelming, Astraea can help train your team to handle all of this effort. We will work directly with your data science team to complete your project. As we execute this project, we will teach your team the specific technical skills and foundational background information they need to tackle the next challenge on their own. In terms of the old adage “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. We will teach you to fish.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” ~Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Icon showing one person helping another person up stairs.
Icon showing one person helping another person up stairs.

We believe that GeoAI Mentorship provides the highest value to organizations because your team will learn the specific skills that they need to solve your organization’s problems. Unlike conferences, where employees need to travel offsite, just to spend all day attending sessions that may or may not be related to the problems they face in the office, GeoAI Mentorship focuses on the specific tasks at hand and gets them completed efficiently. Traditional training often provides a great foundation of information, but it frequently lacks the specificity required to generate value for your organization. By working hand-in-hand with your team to solve a specific problem, your team gets a completely customized experience and your organization gets a solution that works. If your team already has foundational knowledge, we won’t waste their time teaching it to them again.

Learning how to build your own geospatial analytics involves education about imagery data, sensor platforms, phenomenology, analytical techniques, and tools. At Astraea, we have deep expertise in all of these areas. GeoAI Mentorship provides practical experience through which the mentees learn the theoretical information they need to know in conjunction with the technical skills needed to solve the specific problem. This includes training on applicable tools and any programming needed to enable your team.

How does it work?

GeoAI mentoring is low-overhead from the beginning. We will hold a series of two to three discovery meetings where we will learn about your specific objective, understand the data you have or need to acquire, review the current infrastructure in place for conducting analysis, and index your team’s skills. In between these meetings, we will conduct background research on your domain and data, ensuring that the discovery meetings are as productive as possible. We will also collaborate to create and deliver a project plan, which includes an estimate of how much of our effort we will need to complete the project with your team. From that estimate, we will establish a flat-rate contract with a ceiling based on the estimate.

For this planning effort, we charge a flat fee of $1,500. Astraea will deliver our high-level project plan at the end of this phase (regardless of whether you chose to engage us further). Once engaged, we will provide as much time and support as your team needs to solve your problem. You will pay for only what you use of our time and services. Once your team is moving forward without our help, we can step back and provide advice and support on an as-needed basis.

Who can benefit from GeoAI Mentorship?

Our GeoAI Mentorship service is designed to help organizations at all levels of geospatial experience. From organizations that are considering using spatial data for the first time to teams who are looking to take their analytics to the next level. Senior leaders, as well as analytic teams, love this service because it gets them where they need to go in a highly focused way.

Related tools and services

Astraea’s mission is to enable organizations to take advantage of Earth observation data. To achieve this, we provide a range of products and services.

Data Discovery

Anybody who has tried to collect a meaningful geospatial data set will tell you it is complicated. For imagery products especially, there are so many factors involved that it quickly deters many from even getting started. If the complexity doesn’t stop people, often the price of data will be the next barrier. We can help in several ways.

First, we have built Earth OnDemand to help users discover data through a visual search engine that has spatial and temporal filters. Earth OnDemand is available for free. Today, we have several key public (free) data sets available here, and we are adding commercial providers soon.

We want to help users find the best data to solve their problem economically. There are many situations where you can leverage public data to either solve your problem completely or focus your data purchases on areas most relevant to your inquiry. We can help you find the data you need to get your analysis off the ground.

Data Analysis Tools

The next major hurdles organizations come to when they want to analyze imagery is that the sheer size of imagery data necessitates significant computational resources. This means getting IT departments and Amazon Web Services (AWS) experts involved and quickly turns a simple analysis into a major thrust.

Astraea has developed EarthAI Notebook to address these challenges. This tool is a hosted platform that allows your analysts (and ours) to get to analysis right away. With direct access to data through an API and scalable infrastructure, we can help you focus your efforts on your business needs.

EarthAI Notebook logo
EarthAI Notebook logo

RasterFrames

Once you have your data ready to analyze, you need to leverage the power of a cloud to execute your process. Astraea has built and open-sourced RasterFrames to make analyzing imagery using an Apache Spark cluster easy. RasterFrames allows you to represent your image as a data frame and then handles the complexity of distributing the compute job on Spark. We help organizations learn how to harness the power of RasterFrames. Additionally, if you find new applications for RasterFrames and need us to extend it, we can help add functionality to the library.

RasterFrames logo sequence of supporting platforms and how they relate to one another.
RasterFrames logo sequence of supporting platforms and how they relate to one another.

Why do we offer this service?

Simply put, Astraea seeks to unlock the power of geospatial data. We can only succeed at this if there is a large community of users who are empowered to use our platform. While we offer full-service GeoAI services and training services to organizations who want them, we believe that GeoAI Mentorship provides the highest leverage for organizations seeking to grow their internal geospatial capabilities. We want you to be able to get as much out of our tools as possible and mentorship allows us to focus on your needs as an organization.

As a Benefits Corporation, we seek to make the world a better place. We believe that working transparently with our customers is the key to a long, mutually beneficial relationship. Helping you succeed in your GeoAI efforts on our tools, helps us succeed. As part of this commitment, we offer discounts to non-profit organizations and NGOs.

How do I get started?

Fill out our form. A member of our team will reach out to you to discuss your project.

Astraea.Earth

See the Earth as it could be. Astraea’s EarthAI platform provides a suite of products focused on removing the complexities of discovering, processing, and analyzing EO data at scale.

Jamie Conklin

Written by

Building tools to unlock the potential of satellite imagery for all. www.linkedin.com/in/jamieconklin

Astraea.Earth

See the Earth as it could be. Astraea’s EarthAI platform provides a suite of products focused on removing the complexities of discovering, processing, and analyzing EO data at scale.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade