Development Seed, "a timely conversation" at the Data Providers Workshop.

Blog / Ian Schuler / April 19, 2017

Vojvodina, Serbia, copyright: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA
Vojvodina, Serbia, copyright: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA
Vojvodina, Serbia, copyright: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA
Vojvodina, Serbia, copyright: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA

We are on the cusp of a data revolution. We have the technical capability to extract tremendous information and insight from satellite imagery and sensors. Robust cloud infrastructure and powerful open source technology for machine learning and computer vision allow us to do this at scale and at depth. Today we have highly-local, up-to-the minute traffic and weather data in our pockets. This information drives millions of decisions every day. Tomorrow, satellites will deliver critical daily insights to farmers, first responders, investors, and policymakers.

To take part in this data revolution, data providers must change the way that they produce and deliver data. Current methods of data distribution are optimized for our government, university, and research partners. Everyday users demand data that can integrate with their smartphone app or voice assistant. To drive the future, Earth observation (EO) data must be ready for the web. We must rethink how we process, distribute, and archive data. We must revolutionize our methods of drawing insight from this data. And we must be thoughtful about how we deliver these insights to decision makers.

Development Seed is one of dozens of organizations working to build this future. Amazon Web Services (AWS) doesn't simply put satellite data on the cloud; it also convenes users to agree on data conventions that meet the needs of modern web apps. We work with some brilliant people at NASA who are considering how to move more of their data operations onto the cloud. OGC has defined a process for community standards to better support standards development in a world of quickly changing technical realities. Sector-based groups like Radiant are providing the coordination, training, and open software to empower new user communities. And GEO is expanding its reach to engage first-line user communities like the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

This movement will be on full display at the GEO Data Providers Summit this week. The event will feature people who are rethinking everything from ingest and processing, to pipelines and automation, to analysis and insight generation at scale, to creating usable and insightful interfaces. We are delighted to be part of the conversation. We will share our experiences building user-facing apps like the Astro Digital platform; developer facing resources like sat-utils; machine learning tools like skynet; and data provider platforms like NASA's Cumulus.

This is a timely conversation. Urgent environmental, social, and humanitarian challenges can be better understood and addressed using massive data and computational resources now available to us. The solutions to these challenges will be shaped by the daily decisions of billions of people around the globe. Let's get them the data they need to build a better planet.


About the author

Ian Schuler

Ian Schuler - As CEO, Ian oversees the technology strategy and development capacity at Development Seed, keeping it pointed at the most interesting problems in development. Ian has a rich history of building teams and communities at the intersection of technology and human rights. Ian was a founding member of the National Democratic Institute’s ICT team where he led innovations such as SMS-based election monitoring and open election data. Ian went on to build Internet Freedom Programs at the State Department’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Ian oversaw a growth in the State Department’s Internet freedom portfolio from $20 million to over $100 million. His stewardship of Internet freedom funding helped to grow the community of organizations advancing digital rights. Ian graduated from Johns Hopkins University, where he "focused" on physics, economics, computer science, and international relations.



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