Q&A with Planet’s Jennifer Marcus, VP of Government Strategic Partnerships; and Rich Leshner, VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs
How has Planet advanced the geospatial tradecraft?
Jennifer: Planet’s dataset encourages advancements in the tradecraft. Our datasets allow not just the markets we serve, but also the broader Intelligence and GEOINT Communities to make improvements in how analytics are done and how human-based intelligence analysis is gathered.
Who are the main customers and industries Planet serves?
Rich: We serve several markets. We’ve seen growth within energy and infrastructure, consumer mapping, defense and intelligence, and civil government sectors. But our biggest customer is the agriculture market. We work with people directly involved in growing and harvesting crops, as well as industries that manage the agriculture ecosystem.
What solutions and services does Planet provide its customers?
Jennifer: Planet offers a unique set of imagery collected throughout the day from everywhere on earth, which allows our customers to observe changes occurring in roads and buildings, movements of ships carrying imports, movements of planes at airfields, etc. We have a taskable constellation of satellites that collects these sets of images. We also have a set of products emerging around analytic feeds. We also provide a few professional services such as training, architectural workshops, and general guidance, so our customers get the most out of our platform and products.
How distinctive is Planet from other GEOINT organizations?
Jennifer: First, we collect imagery through small sats. We are leading the industry with this. We have the largest constellation of small sats in orbit. We are involved in the design, build, launch, and mission control of all these satellites. We also do all the image processing. Second, in terms of traditional GEOINT, we work with customers to customize our products to support their missions.
Rich: As a person who came from the civil side of space to Planet, I initially wondered, are we doing something that will provide a new, unique data set to this community, particularly on the science side? We are adding a revolutionary capacity to understand the earth, in terms of our available daily global imagery. This is not only offered to the science sector, civil application sector, weather sector, etc., we provide highly valued data that contributes to broader missions, things that can tangibly touch a lot of people’s everyday lives over time.
How has Planet leveraged USGIF resources?
Rich: We were growing as a company, and we realized that we needed to engage the broader community and not just government members, but other companies and universities. It was the smartest place to go to engage with our community.
Jennifer: The GEOINT Symposium, which we look forward to every year, is one of our most significant resources. It is such a fantastic community event where we can see all of our customers, friends, partners, and other GEOINT Community members. It provides us with opportunities to connect. Other USGIF events, such as GEOINTeraction Tuesdays, also allow us to communicate with people and make sure we’re engaged in all the right places that support the community that USGIF has built and the business that we are building with our customers.
What excites you about the future of GEOINT?
Jennifer: With the data set Planet collects, and all of the buzz on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and analytics, we can see daily change that all of us in this industry worked for, and I’m excited to see this data set merge with all of the data already available.
Rich: We’re talking about a community that’s able to leverage the data set or make it more vibrant and informative. When you combine that with our capacity to understand growth in our industry, I’m excited about how that new data could appear.
Feature image: Eruption of Taal Volcano, Batangas, Philippines, Jan. 12, 2020. (Photo credit: Planet)