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ISTEP: The Intelligent Space Tasking and Exploitation Platform


ISTEP: The Intelligent Space Tasking and Exploitation Platform

ADGA’s R&D is changing the way earth observation data is accessed and used by many industries, including emergency management.

Space-based earth observation (EO) data of all kinds are underutilized due to barriers preventing individuals, organizations and governments from deriving value from these data products. Despite this, the number of EO satellites is increasing every year. Over 300 operational satellites are in use for EO, including 65 spacecraft launched in 2016.

ADGA Space Solutions division has conducted the R&D behind our latest project ISTEP (Intelligent Space Tasking and Exploitation Platform). ISTEP is a platform that will provide user-centric focus and infrastructure to eliminate barriers of pre-requisite knowledge currently needed to integrate information from multiple EO sensors. The possibilities for building applications with ISTEP technology are nearly limitless. These include, but are certainly not limited to, all aspects of emergency management, agriculture and food security, forestry, infrastructure and industrial monitoring, and environmental stewardship. The first application currently in development is flood monitoring.

ISTEP is designed to provide users with information derived from EO data products when they need it, where they need it, and only what they need. The platform is realized through client-server architecture leveraging mobile technology, and interfaces with existing EO missions to access the latest and best-suited data for a user’s needs. The ISTEP prototype will address emergency responders’ needs for flood information.

To develop a user-centric prototype, the ISTEP team identified two primary user roles: a field user and an emergency manager. Building from these roles, they defined a use case capturing the concept for interactions within an operational ISTEP system.

The field user is an emergency responder on the ground in a flooding situation. Typical duties of a field user include the delivery of supplies and the local coordination of sandbagging, trenching, pumping and other related activities. Accordingly, the field user is most interested in information relevant to their current location and planned route. The field user is constrained by intermittent access to communication networks and limited time to consult incoming data.

The emergency manager is located in a local base of operations. Typical duties include the coordination of multiple field users, the acquisition and interpretation of situational awareness information, and the identification of safe routes for and efficient use of flood response resources. The emergency manager is most interested in current and future flooding situations in a specific geographical area. While the emergency manager is less constrained than the field user, they may require the flexibility to set up a temporary base of operations should a flooding situation arise.

What makes ISTEP unique is its ability to achieve user-centric tasking via exploitation of EO platforms. The user profile and interactions with the mobile device will define the user context (e.g. user role, user location). In turn, this context will drive both tasking and ordering of satellites.

Tasking will be primarily driven by user location. Satellites will be tasked when they have availability over the geographical area of interest. The role of each user in a given flood response effort will define the data of interest and thus the selection of satellites to be tasked.

ISTEP is the first EO solution of its kind, with promising methods to revolutionize how first responders receive, react and respond to critical emergency-driven data.