Syria crisis tests BlackSky satellite data portal

Image: BlackSky platform provides Aleppo data
BlackSky’s online imaging platform can link a satellite view of the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo to real-time social media streams about the area to provide greater context. (Spaceflight Industries Graphic)

Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries is giving early adopters a preview of its online BlackSky satellite imagery platform, which blends overhead views of sites around the world with social-media posts and other reports about what’s shown in the pictures.

One of the first subjects to be tackled is the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where tens of thousands of civilians have been caught in devastating bombing attacks and house-to-house fighting. That’s apt, because the members of the early adopter program include the United Nations as well as the World Bank and RS Metrics, a company that uses satellite imagery to track global developments.

“Tracking critical global events as they happen is of interest to all of our early customers,” Jodi Sorenson, vice president of marketing and communications at Spaceflight Industries, told GeekWire in an emailed comment. “We chose to use Aleppo as an example to demonstrate the platform’s ability to provide insights on areas of particular international importance.”

The BlackSky platform offers access to imagery from more than 10 Earth-watching satellites, including Korea’s KOMPSAT spacecraft and UrtheCast’s Deimos-2. Customers can also use the platform to order up near-real-time images of specified sites.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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