SkyWatch-Picterra tie-up to ‘democratise’ satellite data
The applications for satellite image data are potentially limitless. Used in environmental monitoring, detection of illegal activity (mining, deforestation) and industry, retail and finance, it provides a rich seam of data that is beyond the budget of many smaller companies.
A partnership between SkyWatch, which builds space data aggregation software, and Picterra, a software-as-a-service geospatial platform enabling businesses to autonomously extract intelligence and analytics from satellite and aerial imagery, aims to change that.
The deal sees SkyWatch’s EarthCache, a set of tools that allow developers to add Earth observation (EO) data into their applications, married to Picterra’s machine learning SaaS platform. Equipped with an out-of-the-box IT infrastructure, the new service promises to give access to terabytes of imagery from satellites, aerial and drone devices with just a few clicks.
90% cheaper, 95 times faster
By inking the partnership, Picterra claims it will be the “leading solution on the market for extracting insights with self-serve ML/AI tools and EO imagery, enabling any company to cost-effectively access unprecedented geospatial intelligence and analytics capabilities” and says the platform is 90 percent cheaper than data science services and 95 times faster than traditional data analysis methods. It’s says a machine learning model could be built in less than half an hour with no coding skills.
Picterra CTO Frank de Morsier said: "We are delighted to be able to close the loop thanks to this partnership with SkyWatch. We can now offer to our customers a self-service platform from direct access and purchase of imagery down to the extraction of their customized geospatial analytics."
SkyWatch CEO co-founder James Slifierz said: "Partners such as Picterra allow us to further our mission to make Earth observation more accessible. By allowing companies to automatically and easily create geospatial analytics, Picterra helps solve another piece of the 'space-to-application' puzzle.”
Future-tech and IXAfrica: Full Life Cycle Expertise
Future-tech is unique among data centre consultancies for a number of reasons. Not only does the Reading-based firm have high levels of expertise in markets ranging from Helsinki to Johannesburg, but Future-tech offers services across the complete life cycle of a facility.
“We are involved with projects from the initiation to completion,” explains James Wilman, Future-tech’s CEO. “We go from initiation phase - which could mean the site selection process or technical due diligence for a merger or acquisition - all the way through establishing the brief, the various design stages, construction oversight, commissioning, operation, end of life cycle replenishment, and can start right back at the beginning with refurbishment.”
While some factors, like the facility requirements for major tenants, remain the same no matter where you are, Wilman explains that “it's the environmental conditions, construction methodologies, supply chain, and skill sets available in different locations that vary, and that makes this a very interesting job.”
Future-tech was selected by IXAfrica as the life cycle design strategic partner for its hyperscale campus project in Nairobi, Kenya. Wilman explains that, over the past year, Future-tech has been leveraging its strong local knowledge, working closely with Kenyan architects and engineers, and collaborating with both Guy Wilner and Clement Martineau, to help IXAfrica successfully deliver Kenya’s largest hyperscale data centre.
“Future-tech did its first project on the African continent in 2012 in Kenya. I've been involved in the data centre space there for a long time, and have known Guy for a number of years through projects and interaction in Europe,” says Wilman. “As the IXAfrica project came into being, Guy and I spoke about it as he knew that we were already quite familiar with the area. We assisted out with the initial planning and project design, and the relationship really grew from there.”
Wilman adds that the experience helping Future-tech support the IXAfrica project has been hard-won. “It's been a steep learning curve, figuring out how to work in Africa. Some of our earlier projects were quite challenging, but we're fortunate to be at a point now where working throughout the region feels really comfortable,” he explains. “One of the things about Nairobi - which we found out when we were working on our first project in the city back in 2012 - is that, because it's about 1,200 metres above sea level, the altitude actually de-rates the onsite equipment. Having your equipment perform less well because of the altitude can massively impact the whole facility.” Understanding the factors that define a local environment can be the difference between success and disaster for a data centre, and Future-tech’s extensive experience in Kenya is a key supporting factor for IXAfrica’s success in Nairobi.
Wilman has also developed a strong collaborative relationship with Guy and Clement. “We've got over a gigawatt of design projects going through our office at the moment with different clients, which means that we're always learning new things. What is refreshing about working with Guy and Clement is that when we bring them a new idea, they listen to us,” says Wilman. “We've had a good run in Nairobi with IXAfrica built off of a long relationship, and I hope we get to continue working with them on their future projects.”