Urthecast is a HD near live streaming video of the earth from space. The company is a 19 strong team. Cameras are being installed on the space station in 2013. The company has representation from Canada, UK, US and Russia. Partners include RSC Energia (Russian leader in space industry), Rutherford Appleton Lab (UK space leader), MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.
Trace is the writer and editor for Urthecast and was one of the first employees. She is taking us through the specifications. The cameras to be used for the stream are one medium-res and one high-res camera. The scope of vision is between 5-45km and resolution is about 1m per pixel. The images will be downlinked to ground stations after conversion to JPEG5 format.
The objective for Urthecast is to make the data from earth observation available to a global community. Where historically earth observation has been for policy makers, military and high-level research, it will now be available for agricultural management, environmental research, education, urban planning, and so on.
Urthecast will also facilitate content aggregation from people around the planet to create a living record of perspectives on earth arising from these images. Views of the earth created by people with their own high definition cameras can be knitted together with the Urthecast platform content, together with stories of these places.
Essentially Urthecast is an arc of earth images and stories.
We’re given a demonstration of the medium resolution flat-bed-style camera, picking out sections of the planet. We can view mapping facilities, see changes over time, zoom in and pull out.
The Urthecast camera is being set up on the ISS mainly from an economic perspective as the Russians have strongly invested in the project and made the platform for the high definition camera available for free. However, the additional value is that the space station is manned. So if the camera fails, there is a possibility for repair.
The platform is going to have skins to be able to see night views and seasonal views etc. You will also see where the station is now and any videos that have been recently captured.
The website is the fun, interest-oriented data. Data is their key business/revenue model. They are building APIs for live data and will make their High Res archive data available on a licence basis.
For more of the truly astonishing project, go to: http://urthecast.com/
Nate notes he had his own company which is still operating. The capacity to learn, the talent pool is here. Biggest trend in the innovation in the area has been the growth of open source software. Between open source and the cloud, you can start a business here. Urthecast has not yet hosted events here but they plan to do so in the future. Plans down the track are to offer prize money or seed money for doing something cool with the data once the APIs are ready.
Thanks so much to Nate, Alex, Trace and Kevin for their time today. Absolutely fascinating.