Open Telekom Cloud for Business Customers

Forecasting from space: Satellite data in the cloud

by Editorial team

They’re around 30 times faster than a passenger jet and are constantly circling our planet: The Union of Concerned Scientists counted more than 1,700 artificial satellites in orbit in August 2017. A large proportion of them – some 40 percent – are Earth observation units constantly monitoring our home from space. Each day, they send countless surface photos and radar images back to us.

Anyone wanting to use this data from space can soon access it directly from the Open Telekom Cloud. Companies previously had to download the data and save it on their own servers. With terabytes of information being added each day, this was a huge effort taking up large amounts of storage space. And before the data could even begin to be processed, companies had to have powerful computing resources available. But that’s all in the past now, since they can simply access and process satellite data directly in the cloud – no downloading necessary.

Satellite data now affordable for smaller firms

“We are democratizing European satellite data,” says Jurry de la Mar, Account Director for Research and Science at T-Systems. How exactly? Firms with smaller budgets can now use satellite data even if they don’t have their own expensive IT resources. “This will create completely new applications and the potential for new digital services. More companies, for example, will now have the opportunity to analyze changes to infrastructure or environments around the world completely automatically – something oil concerns already successfully take advantage of.” Behind the initiative is a European Union program called Copernicus Data and Information Access Service, or Copernicus DIAS for short.

Improving harvests and cleaner air with the cloud

Other sectors can apply satellite data to their own specific business models. For example, insurers might optimize their risk assessments to make their work more efficient by using satellite images to spot shifting landmasses, such as when a hilltop begins to slope downward. Or environmental agencies could use the data to help analyze the air quality of cities and the water quality of the oceans before developing targeted solutions to such problems based on their findings.

Digital farming via satellite imagery

Farmers can also use satellite data to help avoid crop damage and improve their harvests. This brand of digital farming employs images from space to glean crucial information about temperature, humidity and crop conditions. Comparing photos from the previous twelve months enables farmers to recognize where their fields show irregularities over the course of an entire growing season. These images show, for example, areas that are either too dry or wet. Armed with this knowledge, farmers can take specific measures to help their crops.   

The Open Telekom Cloud will also have an archive of satellite images of the past 20 years to facilitate long-term analysis. This will enable firms to gain insights by comparing old and current photos. In the past, companies did not have access to this sort of data, because it was stored on servers located at various national space agencies on different continents. But now everything will be gathered together in the Open Telekom Cloud and made accessible to each and every company wanting to use it for commercial purposes.

The new satellite images sent each day to the Open Telekom Cloud will also be added to the permanent archive. Soon, there will be a databank with over 40 petabytes of information – that’s the equivalent of eight billion smartphone photos measuring five megabytes each.

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