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北部的一个地区的彩色卫星地图Virginia shows that parking lots around Dulles Town Center are relatively open, as noted by the oval-shaped patchwork of green blocks just above the center of the image. But other parking lots, noted in shades of orange and red, are relatively busy. Such geospatial information can serve as a measure of economic activity and traffic congestion. (BlackSky Image)

How do you know when a region’s economy has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic? You could wait for the verdict from the unemployment figures, gather reports from individual businesses and scan news reports about business reopeniings. You could count how many cars show up in the parking lots of factories and shopping centers. Or you could just let Spectra do all of that.


As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, Spectra is learning how to recognize the early signs of recovery, or the telltale signs of a rebound.

“这就是Blacksky真的是关于的:我们如何通知您正在发生的事情,或者亚博体育提现不出来在从其他任何地方听到它之前会发生一些事情?”说Patrick O’Neil, director of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

历史上,布莱克斯基已经是西雅图的一半Spaceflight Industries— along withSpaceflight Inc., a sister subsidiary that concentrates on satellite launch logistics. Over the years, it’s shared inmore than $200 million in investments太空飞行行业已吸引PayPal联合创始人Peter Thiel的MithriL资本管理,这是Microsoft联合创始人Paul Allen的Vulcan首都和法国意大利语Space Alliance

Now BlackSky is on track to take a dominant role in Spaceflight Industries’ portfolio, due to a最近宣布的计划为日本的三井有限公司获得SpaceFlight Inc.Brian O'Toole.布莱克斯基省总统兼首席执行官总裁告诉Geekwire,该交易应该在一个月内包裹。


“Our goal is to get to a baseline 16-satellite service around the first quarter of next year,” O’Toole said.

O'Toole看到Blacksky,Spaceflight Inc.和Leostella正在作为Spapfflight Industries的健康迹象的变化,以及西雅图的航空航天行业。“我们现在有三家新的西雅图公司出来了......每个人都在自己,休息和跑到更大的市场机会,”他说。



Subscribers to the Spectra service can set up the topics they want to keep track of, and in response, the software platform monitors news feeds, social-media postings and other sources for events related to those topics, tied to geographical locations.

A screenshot of the BlackSky Spectra dashboard shows how developments relating to the COVID-19 crisis are fed into the cloud-based collection recommendation system for review. (BlackSky Graphic)


例如,一个新闻发布会上的白色House’s coronavirus task force almost certainly wouldn’t merit scheduling a satellite image, but disruptions in maritime shipping probably would. Spectra uses artificial intelligence to decide whether it’s worth ordering up a picture from BlackSky’s satellites, or from other satellites operated by BlackSky’s partners.

“What actually happened when the COVID crisis started was that we started getting major reports very early on of impacts to how businesses and people were conducting their lives. Those events started falling into the system,” O’Neil said. “And because the system is tuned to pick up on things like disease outbreak or troop deployments, the system automatically started tasking our satellites to take pictures of various things going on.”

Satellite-based surveys of parking lots are among the tricks of the trade: Spectra uses image recognition to determine how many cars are in the lots, and then the software compares those numbers against a baseline. If you’re worried about places where congestion might violate social distancing guidelines, you’ll want to stay away from the red areas. But once the threat has passed, increased parking-lot usage might well be interpreted as a sign that things are getting back to business as usual.

Similarly, a survey of how many airplanes are parked at a given airport can provide a sense of how the outbreak is affecting air traffic.

Atlanta airport satellite image
A satellite image of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport reveals an unusually high number of parked airplanes (identified in yellow boxes) and an unusually low number of parked cars.Click on the image for a larger version.(BlackSky Photo)

Spectra isn’t just tuned in to the coronavirus outbreak. Another case study involved tracking how在澳大利亚港口罢工affected coal shipments to China over the course of several months in 2017-2018. Computer models projected how shipping congestion was likely to affect port operations three weeks in advance.

“We found that there was major interest in this from commodity traders, obviously, but even the ship operators wanted to know this stuff so they can decide whether to slow down their trip,” O’Neil said. “Maybe they’ll pull off the gas a little bit and travel at a more fuel-efficient rate, because they know, ‘Hey, even if I get there, I’m not going to be serviced for another five days.’ ”

光谱是从联邦政府和商业客户汲取兴趣。近三年前,黑人科技赢得了1640万美元的合同from the Air Force Research Laboratory to deliver a version of the platform tailored for government applications. So, how’s that project going?

“I’m not going to get into specific contracts, but I will say our traction both within the U.S. government and internationally has increased significantly,” O’Toole said. “We now have direct contracts with many organizations … not only for our imaging capability, but for our analytics capability that gets delivered through Spectra.”

Along withMaxar TechnologiesPlanet, BlackSky is in the running to receive more government business through aprocurement process for commercial satellite imagery that’s being managed by the National Reconnaissance Office。The NRO is due to announce its plan for procurements this year. O’Toole said he doesn’t expect the coronavirus outbreak to affect that timeline.


“The speed and economics of our satellites are much different than the traditional guys. They’ve got a couple of really big, expensive satellites that provide exquisite imagery. But when you add in the revisit [capability], the speed of delivery and then the economics — which are going to drive a lot of new commercial information and insights — I think we have a significantly differentiated capability,” O’Toole said. “I’m really excited about what these next couple of years are going to look like.”

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