GIM organized a seminar on Environmental Mapping at their office in Leuven. GIM specializes in geo-applications. They work with aerial images to make analyzes. Good example of this is the fight against polio in Nigeria. Using satellite images, all remote huts, villages and other small communities were identified as guidelines for vaccinating doctors. In this way, in entire regions the battle against this childhood-disease was won.

Satellites yes. And drones. And airplanes or helicopters. Each with its specific accuracy and ‘where to use’-question at the basics of the problem. Drones are precise and very local usable but with limited flight time. Airplanes and helicopters cover a larger area, but are expensive. Satellite images are dependent on (the lack of) clouds.

But this technological evolution is moving forward rapidly. From my past as a GIS-coordinator I can confirm that waiting for new, recent aerial photographs was for months, sometimes even years. At GIM it was clear that also in this sector, miniaturization has begun. The Sentinel project aims, by the end of 2016, to have as many mini-satellites in space so every day a new picture can be made of the entire planet. Again, every day!

Radar technology enables these satellites to make images through clouds. So it is fast, becoming clearer and more precise, and perhaps most importantly, cheaper. New data will not be free, but older aerial photos will be freely available. And not everyone needs pictures from yesterday.

In short, it is the symbiosis. Satellites, aircrafts and drones – which is when the most appropriate? For satellites and aircrafts you’ll find a proper partner in GIM. For the drones you’re already at the right place …