What On Earth Colloquium

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#WhatOnEarth2018

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Southland leading the way in building New Zealand's space economy

27 February 2018

Tim Newman

 

New developments in earth observation technology could help give Southland's primary sector a competitive edge. 

Next week, Venture Southland will host a national space conference in Wellington, which will focus on the development of the new technology.

Labelled the 'What on Earth Colloquium', the event will be held at Te Papa Museum on March 6 and 7.

Venture Southland strategic projects manager Rhiannon Suter said the focus of the event would be on the economic benefits satellite earth observation could have for Southland and New Zealand as a whole. 

"[This technology] has been pretty broadly used amongst government and the state agency sectors in terms of mapping, but I think what's really exciting is with the new marketplace. It's going to make it possible for the private sector to use this data."

Suter said in areas such as farming, forestry and mining, earth observation satellites could open up a range of new opportunities. 

"There are big benefits for Southland to grow as a space support sector, but also to be able to use the data coming from these satellites to help our primary sector be productive and efficient, and and respond to changes in the global economy.

"Satellite imagery can be used to measure pasture growth, and help farmers do that more efficiently rather than having them walk around a paddock, they will be able to look at a data set which will help them better manage that resource." 

Suter said Southland was an ideal place for the industry to expand. 

"Southland is really important in terms of New Zealand's export sector; dairy, meat, and aluminium ... but also just physically where we are.

"We're a really good location for downloading data from polar rotating satellites, and through the development of the Awarua Ground Station we've build a lot of relationships. 

"The Southland region has also invested a lot of money in ground level topographical information, and its a really good time as the global satellite industry diversifies and becomes disrupted, with smaller satellite agencies becoming more and more important on the global stage."

Venture Southland is hosting the event in conjunction with the newly formed New Zealand Space Agency, with support from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Land Information New Zealand, the Ministry for the Environment, and the Centre for Space Science Technology.

More than 220 delegates from industry, government and business will be attending, including speakers from Geoscience Australia, Airbus Defence and Space, and the German Aerospace Center. 

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment science, innovation and international general manager Peter Crabtree said there were exciting opportunities for growth in the domestic space industry, with New Zealand providing more than just an attractive launch location. 

"The cost of satellite data is dramatically reducing with improved access to space and more efficient data processing.

"Space-based data applications now make up over half of the value of the global space industry.

"Earth observation data is also becoming increasingly important in helping to address some of our biggest economic, environmental and social challenges – everything from precision agriculture to disaster responses."

Crabtree said the colloquium will help in developing a strategic vision for the earth observation community. 

"Space is a global endeavour and we know we can't work in isolation. New Zealand's emergence as a spacefaring nation has attracted attention from around the world and put us on the path to developing a number of new partnerships.

"It will also enable the New Zealand to pursue agreements and commercial partnerships that expand our access to data and industry capabilities."

Original source of article: The Southland Times

 
 

How Big Data is revolutionising NZ

26 February 2018

Baz Macdonald, EOS NZ

 

NZ is set to have its second satellite Earth observation conference from March 6-7 at Te Papa in Wellington. At this colloquium experts and scientists from all over NZ and the world will be discussing how NZ is, and will be, effected by space technologies. In this, the second of a three-part series running up to this conference, Baz Macdonald investigates how NZ is a world leader in big data applications, and the effect it having on NZ research and industry.

In 2011 NZ became one of the founding members of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) organisation, a not-for-profit company dedicated to creating the world’s largest radio telescope. When completed, the SKA will be the most sensitive telescope ever created, and allow us to see 10 times deeper into space than we ever have before. However, a telescope of this size and sensitivity also brings with it some significant challenges, the foremost of which is the amount of data it will create, with some estimates showing that in one day the array will create more data than the whole internet has created in the past thirty years.

The telescope will require thousands of dishes and aperture array telescopes, which will be installed in the deserts of Australia and South Africa.

While NZ may not be hosting any of the telescope infrastructure, we are playing an important role in the development of the project by helping to advance the technologies that will support it. NZ researchers and R&D firms are working to find ways of dealing with the big data deluge the satellite will create.

This research is already underway, and although SKA is not yet completed, the benefits of this research are already being seen - particularly in how it is bolstering NZ industries and researchers in their use of data heavy technology, such as Earth observation satellites.

As a result of this research and development, New Zealand is considered a world leader in tackling this data deluge, and continues to invest money and effort into the fields of AI, data learning and cloud computation.

 

The big data deluge

Nicolás Erdödy is the founder and CEO of Open Parallel, an R&D firm that is working alongside NZ Universities and companies in developing the technology necessary to make SKA a success. In researching how to deal with the data deluge from SKA, Erdödy said they are continually discovering practical applications for NZ industries.

“To process [SKA’s data] you need supercomputers, as well as new tools, operating systems, storage and applications. By working on that, we start to learn how we can use these new tools to optimise primary industries”

Open Parallel recently demonstrated this by using an algorithm developed for SKA to show how satellite data could be used to read water levels on a pasture, making water and irrigation management easier for farmers.

“Essentially, by participating in SKA, we are improving our way of thinking, which is giving us better intelligence in improving problems that exist in NZ’s day to day system.”

As well as improving current systems, this research is preparing New Zealand for impending issues – such as helping the country, and the rest of the world, stay one step ahead of growing data needs.

Data levels have continued to exponentially climb, over the past 30 years ago, with what was once a trickle of data quickly becoming a waterfall.

Increasingly, the question of dealing with this deluge is not about how to store it, but how to process and gleam pertinent information from such vast quantities of raw data.

Erdödy said humans are excellent models of how to deal with big data. Human brains are capable of storing incredible amounts of information, but more importantly, are capable of organising, prioritising and classifying information so that it is applicable to any given situation, instead of constantly being bombarded with every single piece of information known.

As the amount of data generated increases, we need to continue developing ways of parsing out that information into digestible quantities and for specific functions, as human brains do. However, instead of biological intellect and intuition, big data requires computational tools such as AI, machine learning and cloud computing to do this.

 

The AI solution

 Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that has grown hand-in-hand with big data, and is considered by many to be the most effective and efficient way of extracting relevant information from raw data.

On the cutting edge of NZ’s AI development is Christchurch based geospatial company Orbica. Using satellite, drone and aerial imagery, Orbica founder Kurt Janssen and his team have created an AI algorithm which can quickly extract, with above 90% accuracy, building outlines, roads, and surface water types. 

This is a process that has previously been mapped manually by someone at organisations such as LINZ. But now, using Orbica’s technology, what previously took hours or days now takes only minutes with no manual effort.

Orbica do this by taking huge amounts of data and using an algorithm to distil it into only the relevant information – in this case, the outlines of buildings, roads and water sources.

 “Our focus is turning that data, into big intelligence automatically, with certainty and precision. Information that people inside organisations can actually use to make real world decisions daily,” Janssen said.

Orbica use a sophisticated new sub-class of AI called deep learning in order to extract this information. This process mimics biological neural networks in how it uses information already known in order to make judgements about new data. In the case of Orbica, it is how their algorithm isolates objects regardless of their appearance, by learning all the different visual permutations of the subjects and adding them to a knowledge bank for future reference.

Once the data is processed through the AI algorithm, it is then put through a geographic information system engine to fine tune it. These corrections are then fed back to the algorithm so that with each data set, the accuracy improves.

 

we start to learn how we can use these new tools to optimise primary industries”

Open Parallel recently demonstrated this by using an algorithm developed for SKA to show how satellite data could be used to read water levels on a pasture, making water and irrigation management easier for farmers.

“Essentially, by participating in SKA, we are improving our way of thinking, which is giving us better intelligence in improving problems that exist in NZ’s day to day system.”

As well as improving current systems, this research is preparing New Zealand for impending issues – such as helping the country, and the rest of the world, stay one step ahead of growing data needs.

Data levels have continued to exponentially climb, over the past 30 years ago, with what was once a trickle of data quickly becoming a waterfall.

Increasingly, the question of dealing with this deluge is not about how to store it, but how to process and gleam pertinent information from such vast quantities of raw data.

Erdödy said humans are excellent models of how to deal with big data. Human brains are capable of storing incredible amounts of information, but more importantly, are capable of organising, prioritising and classifying information so that it is applicable to any given situation, instead of constantly being bombarded with every single piece of information known.

As the amount of data generated increases, we need to continue developing ways of parsing out that information into digestible quantities and for specific functions, as human brains do. However, instead of biological intellect and intuition, big data requires computational tools such as AI, machine learning and cloud computing to do this.

The AI solution

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that has grown hand-in-hand with big data, and is considered by many to be the most effective and efficient way of extracting relevant information from raw data.

On the cutting edge of NZ’s AI development is Christchurch based geospatial company Orbica. Using satellite, drone and aerial imagery, Orbica founder Kurt Janssen and his team have created an AI algorithm which can quickly extract, with above 90% accuracy, building outlines, roads, and surface water types. 

This is a process that has previously been mapped manually by someone at organisations such as LINZ. But now, using Orbica’s technology, what previously took hours or days now takes only minutes with no manual effort.

Orbica do this by taking huge amounts of data and using an algorithm to distil it into only the relevant information – in this case, the outlines of buildings, roads and water sources.

 “Our focus is turning that data, into big intelligence automatically, with certainty and precision. Information that people inside organisations can actually use to make real world decisions daily,” Janssen said.

Orbica use a sophisticated new sub-class of AI called deep learning in order to extract this information. This process mimics biological neural networks in how it uses information already known in order to make judgements about new data. In the case of Orbica, it is how their algorithm isolates objects regardless of their appearance, by learning all the different visual permutations of the subjects and adding them to a knowledge bank for future reference.

Once the data is processed through the AI algorithm, it is then put through a geographic information system engine to fine tune it. These corrections are then fed back to the algorithm so that with each data set, the accuracy improves.

 

Using the cloud

Alongside processing, one of the other major hurdles of big data is storage. The datasets of technology such as satellites only get bigger as their imagery becomes more complex and accurate, making it a challenge to download and store this information.

For many NZ companies and researchers, data size has acted as a barrier to entry in utilising Earth observation data. However, the rise of cloud computing has begun to offer an easy and accessible solution to this problem.

GNS Science remote sensing scientist Rogier Westerhoff has been working on reading groundwater levels nationwide using satellite data. Only a few years ago, Westerhoff’s work was being dramatically slowed by the time and effort required to download and process satellite data – with it taking a month to download a year’s worth of data and several more months to process it. 

Last year Westerhoff began using cloud computing service Google Earth Engine, which is designed specifically for the processing and analysis of Earth science data. With this service, which is free for non-commercial use, Google offers scientists access to a cluster of computers which contain multi-petabyte storage servers. 

“Computations which would have taken me months on my own computer, now all of a sudden take me only a few minutes,” Westerhoff said.

“I literally felt the world of possibilities open up [when I began using Google Earth Engine].”

Cloud computing removes the hurdles of the processing and download speeds of internal computing facilities, by allowing users to access data online through a vast network of facilities – each of which is processing only a portion of the data, but at scale this adds up to an incredibly fast and efficient way to manage large amounts of information.

Cloud computing means data can be processed much more quickly without any need to download the entire data set. What may have been terabytes worth of raw data can now be analysed and refined down to only a few hundred megabytes of specific information for you to download.

Westerhoff said by freeing up this time and energy, cloud computing has opened up the world of scientific research and allowed scientists more room to explore cross-discipline research.

“You start to realise that you could integrate different scientific disciplines. In my case, for instance, integrating surface water science with ground water science.”

Another significant effect, is how cloud computing has increased the scope of open-source information. With data now more open and accessible due to the cloud, scientists can avoid creating the same datasets and instead focus on analysing data for their own research. As creating datasets has previously been a large part of any research endeavour, this accessibility has the potential to exponentially increase the amount of research being done.

Westerhoff has been working to introduce this cloud technology to regional councils, so that they can more effectively and efficiently harness satellite data for the management of a range of regional features – including water levels, land use and coastal sediment flow. Westerhoff said the reaction from the councils he has worked with has been very enthusiastic, as they too have realised the possibilities that open up when you can analyse satellite data so efficiently.

Rogier Westerhoff, Kurt Janssen and Nicolás Erdödy will all be presenting at the satellite Earth observation conference from March 6-7 at Te Papa. 

To register to attend the colloquium click here: https://whatonearth.co.nz/event-registration/registration

 
 

How satellites are bolstering NZ business

19 February 2018

Baz Macdonald, EOS NZ

 

NZ is set to have its second satellite earth observation conference from March 6-7 at Te Papa in Wellington. At this colloquium experts and scientists from all over NZ and the world will be discussing how NZ is, and will be, effected by space technologies. In the first of a three-part series running up to this conference, Baz Macdonald investigates the practical applications of Earth Observation Satellites for NZ industry.

Earth Observation Satellites (EOS) have been an important aspect of scientific research since the launch of the first earth observation satellite Landsat 1 in 1972. These satellites represent the non-military applications of satellite technology, and have an increasing presence in our global orbit. As of last August, there were 1738 satellites in orbit and 620 of those had the main purpose of earth observation – representing over a third of all satellite activity. NZ has a close-tie to these satellites, as approximately 200 of them are tracked as they pass over from satellite ground stations at Awarua and Lochiel in Southland.

The number of EOS has seen an exponential increase over the last couple of years, with a 66% rise just between 2016 and 2017.

This growth is due in part to the increasing commercial applications of EOS data. Industries across the globe are starting to realise the potential this data offers for managing and developing their businesses.

NZ industries too have begun to experiment in this progressive space, with many of our primary industries seeing the potential for using EOS data to aid local businesses in interesting ways.

At the forefront of this experimentation are some of NZ’s biggest players, including LIC, Indufor and GNS Science – each of which has begun to develop and experiment with practical applications for EOS data within their fields.

Future forward farmers

NZ’s recent growth in this space has been in part due to the increasing availability of satellite resources. In 2005, there were only 50 EOS satellites in orbit, compared to 620 as of last year. This means that NZ has much more frequent coverage, making it more viable for business use.

The amount of coverage available depends on the satellite company. American company Planet is the largest EOS service provider in the world, owning and operating 30% of the current EOS in operation. They offer daily coverage of NZ, which is why agri-technology co-op LIC chose them for their new service, aptly named SPACE (Satellite Pasture and Cover Evaluation).

This service offers farmers reports on the levels of their pasture dry-matter, based on satellite data which is collected and analysed using an algorithm co-developed by LIC and American company FarmShots.

The industry standard is that farmers will check the levels of their dry-matter every seven to ten days, requiring the farmer to spend half a day manually inspecting each paddock on their farm. This service offers farmers the convenience of having this information readily available on their computer, saving them the time and effort of manual inspection.

LIC have been running this service out to different regions, starting with Canterbury at the end of last year and Waikato just this week. When the service is available in new areas, they offer a fixed free six-week trial to farmers, so that they can compare the accuracy and efficacy of the programme beside their manual practises.

LIC business advisor Simon Parry said feedback from farmers had been positive, with many saying the reports were as accurate as their manual inspection.

A challenge for this service, however, is reports are dependent on a cloudless moment when the satellites pass for images to be capable of analysis. This means that although LIC is capable of providing farmers with reports every single day, the frequency of reports can be sporadic depending on weather conditions.

“In a perfect world, it would be a clear day every seven days, and we would provide a report the day after,” Parry said. “But, the reality is that farms can have two or three reports in a row, and then a break of seven days, or ten days - it just depends on the weather conditions.”

Fortunately, weather trends typically mean that reports are available within the 7-10 days that farmers need an update on their dry-matter conditions.

LIC are still working on calibrating the algorithm for regions throughout NZ, but Parry said he can see many more future applications for farmers using this EOS data – including, measuring moisture levels, analysing a pastures metabolisable energy, and assessing pasture health.

 Efficient felling

To many companies the rise in EOS data has gone hand in hand with the development of many new technological advancements, including drones, other aerial technology and LiDAR.

Companies, such as forestry consultancy group Indufor, have been combining these technologies for the management and assessment of large scale assets – such as tree stocks.

Indufor use a combination of EOS data, drones and LiDAR in order to keep an active catalogue of the quantity and quality of forestry companies’ stocks, essentially acting as auditors for the industry. This includes evaluating how plantations are growing, monitoring any damage to them, and reconciling harvests with the tree stocks.

Indufor head of resource management Pete Watt said in the past this required a lot of leg work, with staff on the ground manually checking forestry stock. However, earth observation satellites have offered a more efficient solution.

“Rather than drive the roads, we are able to process satellite data and provide an indication of how well the forest is actually performing.”

Watt said each piece of technology offers another aspect of tracking forestry stock, with satellite coverage offering a large-scale picture of these assets, and then drones and LiDAR offering more focused data on issues identified by the satellite images.

Watt said one of the advantages satellite data has offered, is immediately being able to recognise and locate these anomalies. This way field inspectors know exactly where to go to find irregularities in a tree plantation, instead of having to spend time hunting for it.

“An example of that might be if you’ve established a crop and it hasn’t performed. You want to know exactly where it hasn’t performed so that you can send the foresters out to change the management strategy or replant it.”

Watt said this trend towards satellite imagery has been supported by the corresponding rise in cloud-based processing, which allows users to access the satellite data and analyse it much more quickly.

“In the bad-old days, we would take down maybe three satellite images, which would be about a gigabyte each, and process it on a desktop computer – that would take maybe three or four hours. But now you’ve got all of the same datasets just sitting in the cloud. We’ve moved away from downloading and prepping the data, to just doing the analysis.”

An evolving practise

Although companies such as LIC and Indufor are effectively using EOS data to aid their industries, the truth is that we are only just beginning to discover the depth of practical applications EOS data could offer.

These possibilities only continue to widen as satellites become equipped with more and more sensors, increasing the amount of data available in each image. These sensors mean images contain data relating to a broader range of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. As we increase the number of bands recorded in each image, it continues to expand what is possible in using this EOS data.

Researchers across the world are continuing to develop and refine our understanding and ability to use EOS data for practical use. NZ’s own GNS Science is on the forefront of this research, and have been experimenting with using EOS data as a method to identify possible mineral and geothermal deposits. 

In their latest study, they have been working with NZ company Hardie Pacific in looking to improve the efficacy of this practise by using new and more accurate satellite data. Previously, GNS had been using an Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), an instrument aboard NASA’s flagship EOS, Terra. In this latest study, however, GNS have moved to the more accurate WorldView3 (WV-3) satellite.

GNS Science remote sensing scientist Dr Salman Ashraf said due to NZ’s thick vegetation you need the highest possible resolution image for the identification of possible deposits.

ASTER takes images where each pixel represents 30x30m worth of land mass. Ashraf said that in Australia, where the land being analysed is mostly bare, it is possible to properly map with this resolution. However, the thick vegetation density of NZ makes this resolution less optimal, with the majority of each pixel dominated by flora and fauna, and with perhaps no, or a small amount, of data regarding the ground composition.

There are techniques to un-mix the vegetation and mineral data, but only if the pixel provides enough mineral information to begin with – which at ASTER’s resolution and with NZ’s vegetation density, often if does not.

The biggest advantage of WV-3 is the pixel size. For that resolution, images have a resolution of 3.5x3.5m per pixel, Ashraf said.

“There is a far better chance for us to get a pure signature of bare surface and rock in those smaller pixels.”

However, although images are taken at this resolution, US currently has restrictions in place which limit the resolution at which these images are available. As a result, GNS only has access to images in which a single pixel is 7.5mx7.5m.

“They downgrade it, but even at this resolution it is more than 16 times better resolution than ASTER.”

ASTER and WV-3 are fairly similar in the number of radiation frequencies they can record, however WV-3 is more accurate in the amount of information it can record from each of those frequencies.

This additional information makes it more likely that GNS scientists will be able to identify the specific readings associated with mineral and geothermal deposits. Ashraf said this is achieved by taking readings at a site where they know there are currently deposits, and then using WV-3 readings to try and find similar patterns in the surrounding area.

“For instance, gold presents a certain way. So, if we know that it exists in a spot, and a similar situation is somewhere else, then we can check that area for the presence of gold.”

By mapping with this WV-3 technique, Ashraf and his team have produced 12 mineral maps related to orogenic gold deposit formation at Macraes Flat in the Otago schist area. These maps do not necessarily mean there is a certainty of gold deposits in highlighted sites – but, it does immediately narrow the search parameters, and give a solid starting point for ground teams and aerial photography to investigate.

This aerial photography also offers a solution to the issue of NZ’s vegetation cover. In areas where vegetation is so dense that there is no ground surface visible with WV-3 image resolution, GNS scientists are also looking to deploy hyper-spectral aerial scanners, which can get an image resolution of 1x1m per pixel.

“With each pixel, we would have 50 times better resolution with which to identify surface reflection.”

Ashraf said that these identification techniques are particularly useful in mapping geothermal deposits, as it is often not possible to walk around these areas to take samples due to the volatile nature of geothermal hot-spots. 

These mapping techniques also offer a more socially acceptable approach, Ashraf said. In NZ, there are cultural restrictions in some places which stop scientists from taking samples – for instance, iwi have reservations on some of NZ’s geothermal hot-spots. Using satellite imaging, scientists can now map and analyse these areas through un-invasive means.

“We can look at it from a distance without disturbing the sacredness of these places.”

In a similar vein, this is a more environmentally sound approach to mapping our geological deposits, Ashraf said, as it doesn’t require scientists to dig up as many samples or to create explorative pits or mines.

Dr Ashraf, Pete Watt and Simon Parry will all be presenting at the satellite earth observation conference from March 6-7 at Te Papa. 

To register to attend the colloquium click here: https://whatonearth.co.nz/event-registration/registration

 
 

Nanogirl to host ‘What on Earth’ Colloquium

8 February 2018

 

Big data, artificial intelligence and automation are high on Dr Michelle Dickinson’s radar when she hosts next month’s ‘What on Earth’ Colloquium in Wellington.

Dr Dickinson is the director of Nanogirl Labs Ltd, more commonly known as Nanogirl – a science-savvy female who uses her engineering skills to solve her way out of challenges in life. Dickinson is also a senior lecturer in Engineering at the University of Auckland.

The ‘What on Earth’ Colloquium will be held at Te Papa in Wellington on March 6 and 7.

Hosting the ‘What on Earth’ Colloquium is synonymous with her mission to make the benefits of science accessible to all.

The event will cover innovative topics around earth observation including land and marine monitoring, mapping, artificial intelligence and precision agriculture.

Speakers will include Geoscience Australia, Airbus Defence and Space, German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the European Commission who will talk about the Copernicus Programme.  

Dr Dickinson says she is excited to host the event.

“I am really looking forward to the sessions on artificial intelligence, big data and the future of automated industries.”

Climate change is a special focus of the event and Dr Dickinson says that information obtained from earth observation satellites can be used to better manage and conserve our environment.

Dr Dickinson lauded Rocket Lab’s successful launch of their Electron Launcher last month highlighting New Zealand’s growing space sector. Rocket Lab is among presenters at the event.

“Whether you are in industry, policy, science or a student interested in how earth observation from space can help us to build an even better New Zealand for the future, this event is for you” Dr Dickinson says.

The event will bring together people from a wide range of sectors with an interest in earth observation, identify the benefits of earth observation to industries and lay the groundwork for the creation of an earth observation organisation or community.

The event is being hosted by Venture Southland in partnership with the New Zealand Space Agency, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Ministry for the Environment and the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

Registrations for ‘What on Earth’ 2018 are open at www.whatoneearth.co.nz

 

For more information please contact:

Venture Southland Strategic Projects Manager Rhiannon Suter on (03) 211 1404

 

Click here for the event programme.

 
 

What on Earth?

18 December 2017

 

What does the latest satellite Earth observation technology mean for New Zealand industry, environment and climate? March’s ‘What On Earth’ Colloquium in Wellington is the perfect place to answer that question.

Venture Southland in partnership with the newly-formed New Zealand Space Agency, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) is hosting the event at Te Papa in Wellington on March 6 and 7.

Venture Southland GM Business and Strategic Projects Stephen Canny said there were huge potential economic and environmental gains to be made for New Zealand from applications and tools produced using Earth observation satellite data.

These include primary industry capability, water management, disaster recovery, rural fire management, fisheries development and exclusive economic zone monitoring.

Following the establishment of Southland’s satellite ground station at Awarua in 2008, Venture Southland hosted the first “What On Earth?” Colloquium in 2011 in partnership with the Royal Society of New Zealand and the European Space Agency.

Mr Canny said the second event in March would profile leading edge New Zealand and International projects with industry and state sector applications, bring together people from a wide range of sectors with an interest in Earth observation, and lay the groundwork for the creation of an Earth observation industry organisation.

The event will be of interest to industry users of land information, including those in the agricultural and forestry sectors, Space industry organisations, relevant policy makers and agencies, research and technical specialists and big data and machine learning specialists, he said.

MBIE General Manager, Science, Innovation and International, Dr Peter Crabtree said: “As we move towards a more diversified and lower-carbon economy, we need smart solutions to our big challenges, including in areas such as agriculture, smart cities and managing natural hazards.  The New Zealand Space Agency is  a committed partner in the What On Earth Colloquium as we believe it is a fantastic opportunity to build New Zealand’s earth observation community and strengthen the connections with key international players as we develop the New Zealand space industry.”

Justine Daw, GM – Partnerships, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research, said “Since the mid-1980’s, earth observation has been adding value to New Zealand research and industry. It has grown in size and sophistication since then, and the breadth of participation in the second What on Earth Colloquium is testament to this.”

LINZ Group Manager Positioning and Resilience Graeme Blick said Earth observation satellites were uniquely placed to deliver timely, country-wide views on the state of the land and ocean.

“As environmental challenges accelerate, the problems our country must solve also increase.We are entering a new era of technological advances in this field that can be immediately translated into benefits for the New Zealand society. “

CSST Chief Operating Officer Rafael Kargren said Earth observation data provided an additional layer of information, to help inform strategic decision making and policies.

“It is a data set that is relatively new to the market but is advancing quickly. Now is exactly the right time for New Zealand businesses, industry and government to utilise this information and integrate it into their decision- making processes. Space has become a fast-paced industry, so the sooner we are able to get on board, the better.” Mr Kargren said.

Registrations for ‘What On Earth’ 2018 are open at www.whatonearth.co.nz