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Software/Analytics Exploiting Commercial Satellite Imagery



PROPOSALS ACCEPTED: Phase I and DP2. Please see the 16.2 DoD Program Solicitation and the DARPA 16.2 Direct to Phase II Instructions for DP2 requirements and proposal instructions.

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems, Sensors

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate innovative methods to for leveraging commercially-available satellite imagery data for use in national security applications.

DESCRIPTION: There is a critical DoD need for improved large scale situational awareness that can be addressed by leveraging the growing availability of public and commercial satellite imagery and sensor data. Access to commercial and public satellite imagery and sensor data enables the development of data analytics applications throughout the public and private sectors. Users are able to monitor weather events, crop growth, natural resource harvesting (e.g., mining and logging), urban growth, and many other natural and human-driven activities worldwide. In many cases, data is available with little delay between observation and data delivery. The data can be used for time critical applications such as natural disaster impact predictions and assessments as well as near- and long-term applications such as famine prediction, regulatory and international law compliance assessment, new infrastructure demand evaluation, food and natural resource availability assessment, and regional stability evaluation.

The same commercial and public satellite imagery and sensor data may also be beneficial for DoD and national security related applications, particularly when used to augment other data. Commercial satellite imagery combined with other intelligence can support international drug interdiction, maritime security, and treaty compliance. Further, the use of unclassified satellite imagery and data enables greater sharing of analysis products with non-DoD US agencies and coalition partners for conducting joint operations.

PHASE I: Develop a system concept and software architecture for applications of commercial and public satellite imagery and sensor data for DoD, US interagency, and/or US-supported coalition missions. Develop algorithmic approaches that enable monitoring, prediction, and assessment capabilities for the selected application or mission. Identify metrics, constraints, and performance levels needed for supporting the selected applications and missions, including data distribution approaches. Develop and demonstrate a limited-functionality prototype of the software system. Applications may use a single data source/type (e.g., imagery) or a combination of sources/types. Phase I deliverables shall include a final report that describes the system concept and software architecture, algorithms, and experiment and demonstration data.

PHASE II: Develop, demonstrate, and validate a prototype software solution. The prototype should focus on information collection, analysis, and analysis product dissemination at the appropriate time scales. Conduct tests of the system (software, data collection and distribution, etc.) to show performance relative to established metrics and associated requirements (processing, data access/exchange, and networking) for a deployed application. Phase II deliverables shall include a final report that contains the final system and software architecture, a prototype that has been tested in a realistic environment, test and measurement data, and system functionality and performance analysis.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Commercial applications: System architecture and software enabling information collection, analysis, and analysis product dissemination at the appropriate time scales required for application support.

DoD/Military applications: Ability to support DoD, US interagency, and/or US-supported coalition missions.


  • Jorge E. Patino, Juan C. Duque, A review of regional science applications of satellite remote sensing in urban settings, in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Volume 37, January 2013, Pages 1-17, ISSN 0198-9715.
  • Longley, Paul. Geographical Information Systems and Science. Wiley, 2005.
  • Lewis, James A., Commercial Satellite Services and National Security: We are Not Alone. Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 2003.

KEYWORDS: satellite imagery, geographic information systems, data analytics

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