Friday, 7 November 2014

Google Skybox for Good: Access Satellite Images Freely


Google Skybox for Good: Access Satellite Images Freely
There is great news for all the non-profit institutions out there. Now you can access all the images you need via Skybox. The company has been recently purchased by Google in August for 500 million$. It uses the satellite SkySat-I and a technology called the Skynode, which allows companies to improve their performance through high fidelity imaging and analytical data. Skynode is comprised of a 2.4 metre satellite communications antennae, packed in the premier applications which allow an user to access relevant images in as little as 20 minutes. It comes with a flexible access plan.

Advantages of Skybox-

  • It allows access to those images that a business company requires- trucks, ships, cars, etc. It also displays the grid of ports, pipelines as per the requirement of the client. 
  • It provides real-time video streaming for global movements in 90 seconds videos at a rate of 30 frames per second for clarity.
  • It provides algorithms that help to solve business problems that may arise at any moment. 

Google has recently announced its Skybox for good programme that allows the use of skybox imaging for non-profit causes. Since skybox provides real-time images of the earth, it has immense possibilities for helping humans. Through the use of crystal clear pictures and analytical data, non-profit institutions can tell their story with better facts and data. It allows them to reach more people and to spread awareness.

How the Skybox for good program is helping people all over-

  • The program has already started tracking the melting of the Helheim glacier in Greenland which allows environmentalists to track the effects of climate change.
  • Google has partnered with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Signal Program to trace the development of the displaced people of Sudan by their Internally Displaced Persons program. 
  • The images have also been used to view the beaches that have been cleared of landmines in Sri Lanka. The program has successfully taken some images of the Nagarkovil Village in the northern portion of Sri Lanka. HALO trust had verified that this area was free of landmines. Skybox imaging has helped to prove the rehabilitation of people by showing the presence of 84 houses and 40 acres of cultivated agricultural land.
  • Skybox has also made the tracking of elephants and other wildlife movements to determine the condition of endangered animals and study breeding patterns of animals in the wild. This can be helpful in the understanding of animal behaviour on a better level.
  • Sky Truth and Appalachian Voices are monitoring the rate of deforestation on the mountain tops for expansion of mines. The images available show the shocking truth about the devastating effects of this deforestation on the local community and wildlife of the Appalachians.

This program is available for anyone who attributes Google and does not profit from such images in any manner. Non-governmental institutions can also request for images pertaining to their areas of interest. This initiative from Google will definitely be a milestone in helping NGO’s and other institutions by allowing them to freely access satellite images.

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