May 25, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of company is VEOWARE?

VEOWARE is a Technology and Data company.

How does the industry look like?

VEOWARE evolves in the space industry ($344.5B in 2016*) and specifically focuses on the Earth Observation services market ($2B in 2016**). Globally, revenues are generated from the following sectors:

  1. Satellite services sector ($127.7B) (e.g. satellite TV & radio services, or Earth Observation services)
  2. Ground equipment sector ($113.4B) (e.g. navigation chipset for car GPS, consumer satellite dishes)
  3. Governmental budgets ($82.9B) (e.g. NASA missions, European Space Agency missions, etc.)
  4. Satellite manufacturing sector ($13.9B) (e.g. large telecommunication, military surveillance & Earth Observation satellites)
  5. Launcher sector ($5.5B) (e.g. SpaceX,  Arianespace launch services)
  6. Commercial human spaceflights ($1.1B) (e.g. Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, parabolic flights, etc.)

*The global space industry dynamics (Bryce, 2017) is further explained in here

**The state of satellite industry report (SIA, 2017) is further explained in here

What does VEOWARE do?

VEOWARE SPACE is democratising satellite imagery for its customers, enabling the completion of complex GEOINT projects, further data analytics and faster decision.

What is a satellite image?

A satellite image is an actual image captured by a satellite to answer a specific question asked by an end-user. Example:

  1. Are there troops at the border of country XYZ?
  2. Are there any factory currently in activity in this industrial zone?
  3. How healthy is the vegetation and the crops is this area?
  4. What is the urban expansion of our country?
  5. How many wind turbines are there in the world?

An image is characterized by many technical factors, among which the spatial resolution, often shortened to the “resolution”. The resolution gives an indication of the details that one could see (resolve) in the image. If you want to see a car of 3 meters long and 2 meters wide, your satellite should be equipped with a technology that offers a resolution of 2 meters or less. The better the resolution, the more details one will be able to identify in the image and usually the more valuable the image will be on the market. Many articles explain the differences between high and low spatial resolution, some have been provided in the links below.

Note that a satellite image can either be captured in the optical domain or in the radar domain depending on the technology which the satellite has been equipped with. VEOWARE SPACE focuses on Optical imagery. Examples of typical optical very high resolution satellite images are provided here

What problem does VEOWARE solve?

Miniaturisation of satellite technology and the use of commercial of the shelf components allowed the launch of mega constellations of very small satellites (<5kg). While imaging the Earth at a low resolution, algorithms running on the images are able to detect changes, globally, on a daily basis. Once a change is detected, stakeholders require such change to be further characterized and analysed using larger satellites (3 tons) able to deliver a much higher resolution. There is however a shortage of these very high resolution satellites due to their traditional manufacturing time/time to orbit (5 years) and total development cost (>400M€). As a result, the imagery price remains extremely high and the market is thus either under-served or simply un-served at all.

VEOWARE SPACE solves this problem by timely delivering more affordable very high resolution imagery data at a much higher revisit time than traditional satellite operators.

Why very high resolution imagery?

Very High Resolution satellite imagery is the finest, most consistent, and most effective way to characterize  changes, globally (= everywhere on Earth). A picture is worth a thousand words. 

With about 7 Billion people on Earth, one estimates at about 1 Billions the amount of changes occurring on the surface of our planet every hour.

  • about 1 billion motor vehicles, all consuming part of the hundreds of millions of barrel of oil that are extracted and transported every day
  • about 1.5 Billion of households, all consuming food & goods that are transported by more than hundreds of thousands of ships and planes every day
  • More than thousands of infrastructure (dams, bridges, roads, airports, harbors, pipelines), power plants (coal, fuel oil, gas, nuclear, oil shale, peat, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, etc.) shall be monitored daily

But why is VHR really useful?

From the total amount of changes occurring every single hour, only 40% of them will detectable from space as weather institutes estimate at 60% the cloud coverage (= in an area of 100 km², only 40km² is cloud free). For the sake of segmenting, one focuses only on changes that take place above land (29% of Earth total surface).

Should an image captured at a 3 meter of spatial resolution (e.g. Planet) be able to detect these changes, one suggests that only a fraction are actually worth a shot at a high resolution (e.g. 70cm to 1m). Specifically, 43% is assumed as it represents the portion of land that is estimated habitable and thus more likely to “human size” changes.

VEOWARE recommends to use the following conservative assumption that only 5% of those changes are worth a shot at a resolution below 50cm as this represents the percentage of habitable area that is considered as urban. This brings a need to cover more than 10 million detectable (= cloud free) changes every hour using very high resolution imagery. Note that this is a conservative case and it does not cover any large open mines, oil field, energy facilities, cropland, and others non-urban applications.

If each early change detection can be turned into intelligence for companies worldwide and can help them gain / save as little as the hourly fee of one monitoring officier/person (e.g. £25/hr), then very high resolution has the potential to un-lock more than £100 billion of value per year! (10,000,000 change / hr * £25/change * 12 hours of daylight * 365 days / year)

How big is the need?

In an ideal  world, the industry wishes it could provide a live refresh of Google Earth.  In reality, most business cases could experience a 10x growth if an hourly refresh would be offered. So how many satellites does this correspond to?

With the current state of art technology, it takes about 10 seconds for a world-class satellite to image an urban area of 2500km² (average size, worldwide) and another 10 seconds to re-orient itself for the next target. Considering the total urban area (see above “Why VHR imagery?”) of 3,500,000 km² that shall be covered every hour, it represents about 450 minutes of capacity to be delivered every hour.

To-date, very high resolution satellites have however only been collecting imagery at 10:30 AM and 01:30 PM to maximize the illumination conditions and minimize the cloud coverage.

  1. From an orbital perspective, the market would need twelve times more the current capacity to cover phenomenon’s taking place at 07:00 AM, at 08:00 AM, at 09:00 AM when 90% of the population is actually moving, showing their habits.
  2. From an imaging time perspective, state of art satellite currently offers a maximum of 100 minutes of clear imagery per day where the market would need 4.5 times more capacity every single hour (instead of daily)

Everyone accepts this situation as every satellite is known to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. No one believes that getting more capacity at the current price make sense. This where VEOWARE will disrupt this paradigm. By reducing significantly the imagery price, End-User will want to get more and more until their purpose, analysis, or interest is satisfied.

To bridge this gap, satellite operators have invested tremendous amount of money to bring their next generation by 2020-2025. If all succeed (very un-likely), the market will see about 45 new very high resolution satellites in orbit. Leaving aside for the moment the geo-political consideration and assuming that they would all work together for the greater good of human kind and information gathering, all these satellite would not yet meet the need: keeping in mind that state of art satellite can image about 100 minutes per day, 45 satellites can thus image 4500 minute per day or equivalently 187 minute per hour < 450 minutes required.

How is VEOWARE truly different?

First, VEOWARE SPACE has the potential to disrupt its industry as its proprietary technology and its technical concept enable the production of Very High Resolution (VHR) imagery data, which are the most difficult to generate (only large corporation able to do significant CAPEX investment – large and heavy satellites (> 1 ton)).

Very High Resolution data sales account for 80% of the revenue in the sector and none of the established or emerging players have been able to deliver an affordable solution so far. Thanks to its proprietary technology, VEOWARE SPACE will be the first company, worldwide, able to reduce by 10x the size of its VHR satellites, launch them more frequently than anyone else and thus offer the industry holy grail service:  very high revisit + very high resolution, at an affordable price.

Does VEOWARE have a unique technology?

Yes, the company has been developing a unique proprietary technology enabling an exponential growth of a new kind of very high resolution satellite constellation.

What is your offering?

VEOWARE SPACE offers its customers high quality (10m CE90 geolocation) optical imagery data at a spatial resolution of less than 50 cm Ground Sampling Distance safely tasked & delivered:

  1. directly by / to their Ground Station(s) for local operations
  2. as a constant feed to their Data Platform enabling further data analytics

All imagery will be generated by VEOWARE SPACE extremely agile satellites, which at scale, will offer an hourly revisit at the equator for less than 5€ / km² (to be compared with current > 25€ / km² for same quality data).

Where does VEOWARE fit in the value chain?

VEOWARE SPACE is a satellite operator, procuring satellite from vendors and operating them to generate its revenues through data sales (via processing third parties & re-sellers).

Equipment Suppliers (platform and payload) provide the satellite manufacturers with their high tech unit developments. Together with the components manufacturer they drive the performance and the innovation of the industry.

The satellite manufacturers select their equipment based on the requirement received from the satellite operators who focus on procuring and operating satellite to generate revenue (service model).

Once efficiently collected, the raw data are “downlinked” back to ground but remain un-usable as multiple corrections shall still take place. The Processing starts by turning the data (1001010101) to an actual image. Depending on the application (oil & gas, mining, agriculture, etc.) the images are stitched together and potentially layered with additional data sources (e.g. #tweet maps, habitants per km², revenue map).  At this stage, real life Analysis can be made (e.g. how many zones are there in Belgium that are located at a distance of less than 10 km from a river, 20 km from a major city and which vegetation index show healthy agriculture?).

 Analytics go one step further and build predictive model using automated Geographical Information System analysis and smart algorithms. Companies doing Analytics narrow down a limited amount of crucial questions where an algorithms could eventual  take action (with or without human supervision).

Is your business affected by BREXIT?
 BREXIT will impact VEOWARE in its ability to bid for the European Commission (EC) open calls but should will not prevent the company from working with the European Space Agency (ESA) which is more open than just EU. Countries like Canada or Switzerland can openly bid for ESA contracts (member states)

BREXIT will however not impact VEOWARE in its ability to serve the EC Copernicus Program. Third parties (even US) do provide imagery to the EC on a commercial basis (specific agreement to be put in place, sometimes with a local reseller if necessary).

BREXIT will impact the UK government spending in the space sector. Best scenario would be a decision in favor of more independence and thus an increase of the yearly budget (e.g. replacement to Galileo program). Worst case would be a reduction of the Earth Observation budget.

BREXIT will finally make it more difficult on logistics and will likely have an impact on travel cost (potential need for extra paperwork & work VISA for EU talents, etc.).

BREXIT will weaken the GBP but should not impact VEOWARE as we deal both in GBP and in EURO.

How about public privacy?

Satellite imagery is collected from above and cannot be used for individuals recognition. The best commercially available (government approved) is 30 cm where 5mm (>500x better) would  be required to identify a person. Such imagery is however sufficient to unveil what kind of garden equipment your neighbor has just bought and whether there was someone swimming in the pool even thought there should not have been anyone at home at that time…

To mitigate such problem, the industry is progressively moving from imagery to analytics, limiting the amount of companies handling, having eyes on, or keeping sensitive satellite data. Instead, such companies grant access to developers (via data platforms) to build and run smart algorithms on the data + only deliver the answers (e.g. graphs). This way prevents the mass to see all the details hidden in the imagery while enabling the downstream segment to grow and consume more and more data.