Satellite Imagery Provides Insights into Holiday Supply Chain Management

Dec 26, 2019 · 3 min read

The holidays are a time of giving, tradition and family; they’re a time to reflect and look forward. While relaxing and spending time with friends and loved ones, few pause to think about the networks that enable these celebrations — the global supply chains that deliver smartphones, chocolates and socks across the world to people’s homes every holiday season.

Raw materials are gathered in some of the world’s most remote places, transformed into goods in far-flung factories and delivered to your door through a sophisticated system of trucks, trains, planes and ships. Satellites are able to monitor many of these happenings giving a comprehensive look at global economic activity.

Here are some examples of how Earth-observation can provide unique insights into the processes that contribute to holiday cheer.

Beneath a glacier high in the Tian Shan mountains, Kyrgyzstan’s Kumtor Gold Mine will produce an estimated 560,088 ounces of gold in 2019. In this high-resolution SkySat image acquired on October 14, 2019, individual trucks are visible on the terraced slopes of the mine’s open pit.

Signatures of activity at factories could be belching smokestacks, open-air stockpiles, rail cars delivering raw materials or trucks lined up at a warehouse. This SkySat image captured activity at a labyrinthine industrial complex in Tianjin, China on December 5, 2019.

A cargo ship departs the Dalian Container Terminal on October 11, 2019. Satellites can monitor not only the comings and goings of marine traffic, but also estimate the number of shipping containers awaiting transport.

The Port of Oakland is a hub for both receiving goods from the Far East and distributing grain and produce from California’s productive Central Valley. This image shows land and sea traffic at the busy port on November 15, 2019.

Cars pack the parking lot of Sawgrass Mills mall in South Florida on Black Friday, November 29, 2019. Despite a long decline in brick-and-mortar sales, the crowds demonstrate a continuing American appetite for bargains.

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