Improving our View of the Changing World with Planet

Exabytes (billions of gigabytes) of information travel the world on fiber optic cables at nearly the speed of light, but economic reports generally update on monthly, quarterly, and even yearly schedules. At Orbital Insight, we extract economic metrics from satellite and drone imagery to measure change on a national and global scale. However, we can only measure change as frequently as we receive imagery, so if we want to track the economic pulse of the world on a daily or weekly basis we need imagery of the world on a daily or weekly basis.

For this reason, we are excited to partner with Planet, a leader in geospatial imagery providing daily monitoring capabilities from its constellation of nano-satellites, to gain access to more imagery more quickly than any other analytics company in the financial market. Together, we will usher the vanguard of space-based monitoring and machine learning into the hands of change-makers: people who watch economies build, watch markets expand, and watch the world grow.

We work with all satellite imagery providers in order to provide unbiased knowledge of socio-economic trends, and each of them are vital to to our signals. The beauty of Planet’s imagery is in high-frequency imaging. Planet is on track to be the first to image the whole Earth every day at resolutions that show economic activity, which has implications to all of our customers, but especially those in the financial market.

Frequent data helps answer these important questions, and the same situation holds true for analyzing satellite imagery — the more frequent the data, the more accurate and well-informed the predictions based off those images.

Our priority is to find high impact trends that can’t be quickly and reliably measured with traditional tools. Waxing and waning shadows on floating oil tanks reveal oil supply from space, cars in store parking lots indicate peak business hours and prefered stores, new construction indicates a prospering economy, shrinking surface water is a sign of instability. These changes, sent to the right people in near real-time, have the potential to affect thousands of decisions every day.

The ability to identify ships in satellite imagery can help us better understand port activity.

Planet’s data is crucial to measuring change on a global scale. A single image can give a snapshot but a sequence allows us to see the story. Satellites systematically return to the same position to capture the world, making comparisons between images seamless. With millions of images beaming down from space, we can watch the evolution of cities, forests, or bodies of water. Imagine the ability to monitor constantly-evolving activities such as shipping, construction, and transportation on a daily basis, and to understand and watch how increases and decreases in each part of the supply chains propagate along the chain and into neighboring industries.

This partnership was driven by the financial services industry’s growing appetite for new and actionable specialty data sources, our ability to generate both geospatial data and analytics at scale, and Planet’s desire to provide new insights to financial markets. Thanks to Planet’s high frequency imaging, we have access to more imagery than any other analytics company in the global financial services market, and together, we will allow for the highest number of observations than any other available source on a daily basis.

In Planet’s words “See change. Change the world.” At Orbital, we use machine learning and data science to turn pixels into numbers and numbers into insight, delivering distilled measurements of the change that we see. We leave the world changing to non profit organizations, cities and governments, and hedge funds and investors from around the world.