Monitoring Infrastructure through the Eyes of Satellites

Is it possible to inspect and protect critical infrastructure from the sky with the help of satellites? Let’s discuss this and see what are the use cases and benefits of infrastructure sector monitoring by using satellites.

Satellite Monitoring vs Traditional Monitoring

Infrastructure is essential for the functioning of a society and economy. The distribution of water, energy, and commercial facilities should be maintained consistently to guarantee security and stability and minimize the risk of failure.

Traditionally, infrastructure has been monitored by: 

  • Ground-based teams
  • Helicopters 

Each of these methods has its pros and cons, which we will discuss thoroughly in one of our next articles. Here are just a couple of reasons why and where satellite monitoring can be a great alternative to traditional methods:

  • While ground-based inspection can be challenging due to remote, hard-to-access locations, satellites are able to embrace literally any geographical spot. 
  • While helicopter inspections require dealing with flight permits and technical limitations, satellites are available everywhere at any time and allow to monitor thousands of kilometers, at scale.  

Also, combining a few monitoring techniques can provide a fuller picture of the assets’ conditions and significantly mitigate operational and maintenance (O&M) risks.

Use Cases for Infrastructure Monitoring with Satellites

Site planning 

As stated previously, one of the benefits of satellites is that they provide data at scale, being able to cover thousands of kilometers and hectares all around the globe, with no exception. Before starting investments, private companies or governmental authorities can get near real-time data about the particular location, for instance, land condition, including land motion, moisture etc but also the presence and proximity of different types of objects on the site. It applies to both underground assets like gas pipelines and above-the-ground assets like power lines. 

Changes monitoring 

Another great power of satellites is that, being complemented by the technology, they provide an accurate and automatic evaluation of asset conditions over time. It allows spotting crucial changes in assets’ health, for instance, gas leaks as well as changes in the surrounding area, for instance, newly started construction works too close to the network. Or new vegetation has grown nearby and that can damage power lines. Hence, satellite data can be an efficient tool for the identification of infrastructure issues and mitigating risks caused by human activity or the environment surrounding the assets.

Preserving biodiversity 

We at Spottitt have clients for whom protecting and improving ecosystems within their area of operations is one of the priorities. More to that, we observe that infrastructure owners and operators now see themselves as being responsible for the greater impact they have on the environment. Here, space-based Earth observation (EO) offers a truly global perspective for observing environmental changes. Satellite remote sensing can be a great help in mitigating negative consequences of biodiversity loss, whether it concerns plant biodiversity or changes in species composition. 

Concluding Benefits of Using Satellites for Infrastructure Monitoring

To summarize, some benefits of using satellite monitoring for the infrastructure sector are: 

  • understanding, and more importantly, reducing risk on the assets
  • increasing operational and maintenance efficiency
  • achieving environmental and climate goals

Satellites can be used as a standalone monitoring solution or in conjunction with other tools to provide a robust and reliable ground for asset managers for making the right decisions on their infrastructure. Satellite data also can help mitigate risks of failure, downtime and critical collapses. It’s applicable for all types of assets, any geographical location and landscape surface. It reduces human effort and provides insights in a rapid and digital manner. 

Technology does not stand still. It’s time to embrace the incredible capabilities of satellites for infrastructure sector monitoring. 

Niccolo Teodori

Niccolo Teodori

Chief Growth Officer

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