That is the view of South Dakota State University professor Matt Hansen, one of several scientists who worked with Google to launch Google Earth Engine. The new technology was showcased at the annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2010.
Hansen, the co-director of the Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence at SDSU, said that up until now, analyzing remote sensing data from satellites has required a hefty investment in infrastructure and lots of training. But not anymore. New policies by the U.S. Geological Survey are making satellite images available for free. That change in policy, paired with the cloud-computing capability offered by organizations such as Google, is making it possible for ordinary people to analyze satellite imagery without having expensive equipment.
“Eventually — soon, I expect — they’ll have the entire Landsat archive online at Google. And they’ll have the cloud computing capability to process all the data,” Hansen said. “This is an incredible advantage in terms of generating the value-added products that we create for quantifying deforestation, natural hazards, cropland area, urbanization, you name it.”
Google Earth Engine was one of the innovative ideas unveiled at the Cancun climate talks. Hansen and postdoctoral researcher Peter Potapov of SDSU worked with Google to help process more than 50,000 images in order to produce a detailed map of Mexico to demonstrate the technology.
"We are very excited about our collaboration with Dr. Matt Hansen and SDSU,” said Rebecca Moore, engineering manager for Google Earth Outreach and Google Earth Engine. “We're hopeful that the combination of our technology and his deep scientific expertise will contribute to a better understanding of the earth and its dynamics."
Hansen noted that the technology is a response to a far-sighted decision by the U.S. Geological Survey to make satellite imagery data available for free. Just two years ago, a user would have had to spend $32 million simply to get access to the images Google and Hansen’s SDSU team processed.
“It’s not just Google. It’s good data policy. When the U.S. Geological Survey made the data free, all of a sudden this whole new world opened up to us. It implies that you have to have to have cloud computing capability to mine all of those data,” Hansen said. “Landsat imagery went from a cost model to a free basis, so the data that we use as our main monitoring observation, 30-meter Landsat data, went from $600 per image — which is around 185 kilometers by 185 kilometers — to being free. So instead of begging and borrowing for money to work with, say, a couple hundred images, we now can access tens of thousands of images. Once you do that, you need to upscale your computing.”
Improved publicly available processing tools will “democratize” the processing of satellite data, as more people become engaged in working with the data. But, he noted, that will require more collaboration between academics, government scientists, and perhaps private industry in processing and characterizing the satellite data sets.
“There is always a chance that uninformed people will try their hand at making advanced products, and they’ll be able to do it because they will not have to have the infrastructure behind it,” Hansen said. “That’s going to put the onus on accuracy. We’re going to have to put a lot of money into accuracy assessment or what we call validation — having data sets that help determine the accuracy of the map products. This will ensure that the most accurate information on how the earth is changing is used in making policy decisions.”Lance Nixon
Lance Nixon | Newswise Science News
Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
18.05.2018 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center
Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss
18.05.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy