Data Interpretation Next Challenge for Emerging Nations: Panel


Societal benefits - space applications in emerging regions panel.

There is no lack of new space resources available to emerging players in the space industry. Low-cost satellites and more affordable broadband are allowing the wide dissemination of data.

The next stage is to provide these nations with the tools to understand what the data means so they can act on it in emergency situations, according to participants in a panel at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

"We see a lot of new entrants to the marketplace and one of the reasons we see that is (space) is an attractive investment," said Tim Deaver, the vice-president of market development government solutions at SES World Skies.

But it has its limitations, the participants acknowledged. During the floods in Thailand, there were a lot of images coming to government officials, but they didn't know how to act on them, they said.

"The critical issue in the emerging nations, particularly with their dealing with disaster mitigation, is trying to have the skills available in their own location to be able to assimilate all the information that comes in ... and then generate it into actionable knowledge," said Martin Sweeting, the group executive chairman for Surrey Satellite Technology.

But the encouraging thing, said a representative of the Global VSAT Forum, is companies have been able to effect change in national policy in emerging nations by banding together.

VSAT bills itself as "an association of companies delivering advanced digital fixed satellite systems and services to consumers, commercial and government enterprises worldwide."

Since it was formed 14 years ago, the company has seen many emerging nations break from monopolies to more competitive approaches with industry - particularly in Africa, noted David Hartshorn, secretary-general of the VSAT.

It will likely take a healthy infusion of government policy and sharing of knowledge with more advanced countries to help the emerging nations stand on their own two feet.

But given the cost of disaster management, more effective measures of mitigation and response show that it is more cost-effective to give a helping hand for these nations as soon as possible.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.