In thi blog, Satellite technologies are a new frontier in global development. Once a luxury of governments alone, from the late 1990s satellites began to be privatised and now satellites of all sizes are shooting into orbit. The benefits for the world’s poorest, and for the planet, could be boundless, as long as their data is open to all.
That was in the late 2000s, when he was analysing satellite imagery as part of his undergraduate studies at Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in Maharashtra state, India. And the computer analysis of a picture could take even longer. Sometimes Roy would start the analysis at night and it would still be running the next morning. Satellite technologies are a new frontier in global development.
But civil society organisations and individuals are harnessing the technology in innovative ways, making it harder for countries to hide human rights abuses from the world. The ‘democratisation’ of the data coming from the skies could be a win for communities in lower-income settings.
Satellites are being used for everything from monitoring illegal fishing to tracking malaria, from supporting early warning systems in flood-prone nations to measuring crop yields and giving farmers advice on fertilisers. So, can satellite technology deliver the boost for development that it promises?
In this Spotlight, we consider whether satellites can help governments meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, in this crucial decade for development.
Applying satellite technology is not without its challenges: satellites are unevenly distributed among countries, meaning the poorest are reliant on being granted access; locating and educating remote and nomadic communities is no easy task; and programmes designed to combat development challenges can struggle to collect the reference data needed.
As the world faces the unprecedented challenge of dealing with COVID-19, researchers are working on models using satellite data that one day may help analysts predict pandemic outbreaks. Beyond that, whether satellites can fulfil their development potential will rely on their becoming the truly democratic tool they promise to be. I hope you like this blog, Satellite technologies are a new frontier in global development. To learn more visit HawksCode and Easyshiksha.