Satellite imagery can benefit Malaysia planners

PUTRAJAYA: A US-based company that provides satellite imagery is eyeing Malaysia as a market for its service. It believes it can help the Government better map out the nation’s development strategies with its technology.

Jill Smith, global chief executive officer of Digital Globe Inc said the company wants to extend its business to Malaysia and sees that the country has a good understanding of how the technology can be beneficial.

“Government support for such technology is there, which can help Malaysia strike a balance between modernisation and (resource) conservation,” she said.

Smith was speaking after meeting with government officials during the 4th National Geospatial Information System (GIS) Conference and Exhibition in Putrajaya.

Digital Globe provides its satellite imagery from its three satellites that orbit the earth, collecting about two million sq km of images everyday — equivalent to about six times the land mass of Malaysia.

Its latest satellite, named Worldview2, can produce a high-resolution image of an area, as well as offer in-depth information on what lies below the ground. This also makes it easier for researchers to know where resources, such as prized minerals, are located.

“Initiatives to harvest these natural resources can be better managed and monitored, and the images can also help with planning residential developments so that these it do not disturb the delicate balance of nature,” Smith said.

Worldview2 can also detect changes in land and water movement, enabling it to provide environmental warnings which may be precursors to a natural disaster.

Such data, she said, can be stored so that governments can then use them to plan follow-on courses of action after the disaster.

“Governments will want to know how landmass has changed because understanding this is the biggest imperative for any government to react to or prepare for a situation,” she said.

Wide spread

Digital Globe is also looking at expanding its services to the rest of Asia. According to Smith, the region poses a huge growth opportunity for GIS services, especially in countries that are seeking more avenues to better manage their natural resources.

“Developed countries have no burning imperative for GIS services because their development is somewhat complete. Opportunities are wider in Asia,” Smith said.

The company is working with some Malaysian agencies to help them gain a broader understanding of the country’s terrain, in order to plan and manage developments more effectively.

One of them is the Malaysian Centre For Geospatial Data Infrastructure (MACGDI), which is one of the departments under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

MACGDI has has sought Digital Globe’s assistance to build MyGDI, a definitive map source which can be used by all government agencies.

The department is also working with town planners to properly plan certain cities in Malaysia, as well as with large plantations to monitor the health and growth of crops.

According to MACGDI, geospatial data is imperative to enhancing government-service delivery, natural-resources management, and environmental monitoring.

With help from Digital Globe, it hopes to build its National Geospatial Data Centre (NGDC), which will amass geospatial data and satellite imagery of the country for the purpose of data sharing and dissemination within the public domain.

It also hopes to provide complete, high-resolution coverage of the country’s landmass and beyond.

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