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Mapping platform Soar recently announced its partnership with the China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co. Ltd. (Siwei), a company under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CSAC). The partnership is set to bring images from CSAC's SuperView satellite constellation and GaoFen satellite to Soar's growing library of satellites, aerial sensors, and drone content.
Depending on the altitude, Soar can serve imaging information sourced from satellites, sensors, and drones which provide varying levels of precision.
The combination of these sources can produce highly accurate maps that can be used for a variety of purposes. The team behind the platform aims to challenge the dominance of current satellite image repositories and make highly-detailed mapping data more accessible for public consumption.
The SuperView and GaoFen satellites are designed to provide very high-resolution images of the Earth. SuperView is made up of four commercial remote sensing satellites, all of which are capable of panchromatic and multispectral imagery which allows them to achieve sharp and accurate images.
The data is meant to be used for defense, natural resources management, and mapping purposes. GaoFen, on the other hand, provides near real-time images for use in disaster prevention and relief, agricultural support, and climate change monitoring.
Through the addition of these two new feeds, Soar's platform will be able to deliver improved mapping content to its users.
A Boost to Soar's Platform
The pictures from these Chinese satellites are 20 times higher in resolution compared to Soar's current satellite data which currently relies on the European Space Agency's Sentinel program and NASA's Landsat. These two data streams from China will introduce imagery of 0.5 meters and 0.8 meters per pixel resolutions to the platform.
Such high-resolution satellite images allow users to observe landscapes such as forests and coastlines in greater detail. They can even be used to identify individual trees, roads, pathways, landmarks, and objects. These can also yield more critical information, allowing researchers and even casual users to explore and observe phenomena such as environmental changes and natural disasters.
Growing Applications of Mapping
The use and applications of satellite imagery, mapping, and remote sensing data have been growing over the past decade. Previously, satellite imagery was only accessible to aerospace agencies and was only made available for research and governmental applications such as military, intelligence, geosciences, environment studies, and natural resources management.
Today, satellite data is now widely used commercially. Many commercial consumer-oriented apps, including the likes of Uber, Airbnb, and Waze, now rely on global positioning systems (GPS) and interactive maps to function. Such apps could benefit from highly detailed information to produce more accurate maps and improve their respective user experiences.
These developments have created a wider market for mapping data. App developers can now tap into application programming interfaces (APIs) like Google Maps to quickly enable functionalities such as location search, routing, and even traffic information. Soar intends to unlock even more capabilities, especially with its near real-time information offering.
Wider Availability of Data
Soar looks to become a major player in the growing mapping data market by creating a collaborative ecosystem in which stakeholders can participate. Central to this ecosystem is the marketplace that allows users and data owners to benefit.
Users can get instant access to various mapping content and images by simply purchasing the data they need. Data owners can also make their feeds and images available to other users by uploading and selling. Drone photographers, for instance, can profit from their efforts by selling their low-altitude images on the platform. The marketplace allows data owners to retain the rights of their content.
This effectively lowers the barriers that hinder smaller developers and ordinary users from accessing highly detailed, up-to-date, and accurate images. Interestingly, enthusiasts have been able to contribute to a wide variety of global concerns using such data.
Casual explorers have already made archeological and geological discoveries using Google Earth and Maps. Soar’s high-resolution maps can lead research groups and curious enthusiasts to even more discoveries.
Both Soar and Siwei have expressed enthusiasm in their recent partnership. It is the first time that the Siwei will be partnering with a global company based outside China. Siwei hopes that its deal with Soar would help showcase China's advances in its space program and enhance its position as one of the world leaders in satellite and mapping technologies.
Ultimately, this partnership can greatly benefit users as the wider availability data would enable them to unlock all sorts of applications which possibly can lead to breakthroughs and innovations.