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Spy satellites capture photos and infrared images of various businesses.

Spy satellites can trace the information of hidden businesses

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The High-altitude surveillance by more than 730 satellites launched in the space in last decade can collect the data of businesses from all over the world.

The small start-ups named SpaceKnow, Descartes Labs, Orbital Insight or more in San Francisco are selling this information to other market traders.

The start-ups are collecting the information from photos and infrared images of various businesses. The data is reported to be captured by satellites that are orbiting in space.

Many start-ups are finding their business using this technology. Such start-ups can sell insights of the businesses that are collected via cameras and other sensors installed on the cube satellites.

Orbital Insight is one of the first companies that built its business using cube satellite data. James Crawford is the founder and chief executive of the company. Recently he shared the report of three big retailers: J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Sears using the satellite information.

These satellites use high-altitude surveillance which was used by global businesses earlier. The big companies and governments collected data about people through internet services, cameras, and other devices.

Mark Johnson, chief executive and co-founder of Descartes Labs, a satellite information start-up said, “Businesses will not be able to hide from competitors or regulators or watchdogs. They need to realize that their traditional competitive advantage - information will be available to everyone.”

Founder of the start-up named Orbital Insight, Mr. Crawford said, “The future is automation, with humans only looking at the very interesting stuff.”

Mr. Crawford also added that the analysis by these satellites will lead to better market and enhanced understanding of the global economy.

Fred Abrahams, a researcher believes it to be a check on the entire world’s businesses and governments as well. Mr. Abrahams and his team make the use of satellite imagery to track everything. They can track the activities of illegal mining and logging operations.

According to Euroconsult, about 2,220 more satellites will be sent into the orbit in the next decade. It will bring a wide array of sensors on the planet. Euroconsult is a research firm that tracks the space market.

The satellites can trace the activity of more than 2,60,000 retail parking lots and monitors the around 25,000 oil tanks around the world.

Start-ups like Orbital Insight and SpaceKnow revealed that some of their clients use the satellite information to get the data about the growth of their competitors.

The low cost of building, launching and operating the satellites have resulted in bringing this advancement. These cost-effective and light-weight satellites can easily capture the sharper images.

As a result of this, the companies are sending their satellites into the orbit to generate data. The recent progress in artificial intelligence allows these machines to examine the collected data with better accuracy and promptness.

The start-ups then buy the data from the satellite operators to build the automated systems. These systems can analyze the data based on the high-resolution images of objects like cars, mines, buildings and oil tankers.

The satellite cameras have infrared sensors that can detect heat. The “hyperspectral” sensors identify vegetation or minerals. The radar scanners on satellites can then make the three-dimensional images of the captured landscape.

A new satellite has been launched in December 2018. It will soon start tracking the wireless signals. The technology will help to understand the performance of many other industries such as cell phone companies or cargo ships.

Even after such advancements, a few specialists express its drawbacks as well. According to them, satellite data is not always as convenient.

The information through satellites provides only a rough guide about the company’s performance. The satellites gather the activities done on the outdoors of the factories but these are not as complete or reliable.

At the same time, the satellite is more complicated technology than the smartphones and street cameras. The satellites in the space can suddenly stop working. Any technology failure is also possible in the system and a technician cannot be sent into space to fix it.

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