Open Data continues to make progress as manifested in data portals, organizations adopting it, and associated literature. Are private companies also involved in Open Data? Yes. As early as two years ago, we wrote about Esri’s initiatives in ArcGIS Open Data. Imagery and geospatial data company DigitalGlobe have created DigitalGlobe’s open data portal, as part of their efforts to provide “accurate high-resolution satellite imagery to support disaster recovery in the wake of large-scale natural disasters”. This includes pre-event imagery, post-event imagery and a crowdsourced damage assessment. Associated imagery and crowdsourcing layers are released into the public domain under a Creative Commons 4.0 license, allowing for rapid use and easy integration with existing humanitarian response technologies. For example, their imagery for areas affected by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 is available here.
On a related note, I have worked with DigitalGlobe staff for years on educational initiatives. They provided me with high resolution imagery for an area in Africa I was conducting a workshop in, and more recently with imagery in Southeast Asia that I needed in conjunction with helping Penn State prepare exercises for their GEOINT MOOC (Massive Open Online Course in Geointelligence). They have always been generous and wonderful to work with and I salute their Open Data Portal initiative. In the MOOC we also used their Tomnod crowdsourcing platform with great success and interest from the course participants.
The first imagery from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite, launched in early August 2014, has already been received and although still in the testing and calibration phase, the imagery has been lauded a new standard in resolution (maximum 31 cm) and clarity. Despite the fact that the imagery was taken from an altitude of approximately 620 km, the images provide a level of detail and image sharpness that were previously only available from aerial photography.
Samples of the data are available on the DigitalGlobe and Mapbox.com sites and include imagery from Barcelona and Madrid in Spain. From the airport imagery it’s possible to identify individual planes, runway markings and other detailed airport infrastructure.
In addition to the improved resolution, WorldView-3 incorporates additional spectral bands (29 in total) to sense previously undetected changes in vegetation, variations in surface composition, moisture levels and building materials.