Streamlining Global Geospatial Data

DARPA selects Descartes Labs as the platform partner for its ambitious Geospatial Cloud Analytics program


Descartes Labs announced this week it was selected by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to be the platform partner for the agency’s Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program.

With the proliferation of sensors and resulting data, it has become a tall task for human analysts alone to compile, prepare, and examine high volumes of disparate data from multiple vendors. The goal of CGA is to ease analyst workloads and to accelerate the extraction of insightful intelligence by aggregating vast amounts of open satellite data into a single, cloud-based repository. Descartes Labs spun out of Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2015, and its advanced predictive analytics platform graduated from beta testing last month.

“Being chosen is both an honor and testament to the data refinery and platform Descartes Labs has built,” said Adam Smith, Descartes’ head of business and sales. He added that GCA “highlights the necessity of a broad collection of satellite imagery data, for both government agencies and for-profit companies across industries.”

The Descartes Labs platform aims to establish advanced predictive analytics on a global scale. Built on a powerful, cloud-based supercomputer, the platform is able to process and run machine learning on terabytes of complex data simultaneously for applications such as “monitoring rapid urban development, tracking deforestation across the globe, and identifying new oil and gas wells,” Smith said.

Later in the CGA program’s life cycle, organizations selected by DARPA will use Descartes’ platform to develop strategic, operational, and tactical analytic applications to be offered in the commercial marketplace.

Descartes Labs won’t be the only company building a cloud system under CGA. BAE Systems will build its own infrastructure with $2 million in DARPA funding. Other companies, such as GeoNorth Information Systems will procure and process data for use in the cloud systems.

In the first six-month project phase, valued at $2.9 million, Descartes Labs will integrate as many as 75 new datasets into its platform, including optical imagery, synthetic aperture radar, radio frequency, weather, green energy, shipping, and more from a network of data partners. These datasets will supplement the platform’s existing data library, which includes NASA’s Landsat constellation, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel constellation, and the entire Airbus OneAtlas global basemap. A phase-2 award option is valued at $4.2 million.

“Both the public and private sector are beginning to recognize the power of satellite imagery and how that data can be leveraged to glean insights on the state of the world, from supply chains to the global food supply,” Smith said. “This program will drive recognition of the value of satellite data and support the emerging movement to make clean, insightful satellite imagery data more accessible.”

Photo Credit: Descartes Labs

Posted in: News   Tagged in: Analysis, DARPA, Data, Machine Learning & AI, Remote Sensing

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