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Space-enabled big data reveals the bigger picture

Written by  Wednesday, 24 November 2021 08:58
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The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Morbihan – a French department in the south of Brittany.

How the world is responding to life under the coronavirus pandemic is being illuminated by real-time economic indicators informed by data from space.

Alternative data specialist QuantCube Technology has added four new real-time economic indicators to its Macroeconomic Intelligence Platform, which is used by asset management firms, hedge funds, pension funds, investment banks and corporate treasurers to monitor global trade, inflation, tourism and other macro-economic variables.

The platform uses artificial intelligence and big data analytics to process information gleaned from satellites combined with information from news sources, social media, professional networks and consumer reviews to generate its insights.

The four new indicators encompass: urban growth, which measures development in cities and urban areas over time; nitrogen dioxide, which tracks human activity by comparing average levels across different regions; water stress, which monitors water surface fluctuations to pinpoint the likelihood of drought; and agriculture, which tracks agricultural land use to help predict changes in agricultural yields.

“Over the past two years, we have been working closely with the ESA on a demonstration project, applying artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques to their Earth observation data to create a ground-breaking new set of economic indicators,” said Thanh-Long Huynh, chief executive of QuantCube, which is based in France.

“Combining the satellite data from ESA with additional QuantCube data sources – including news and social media data, industry and employment data, international trade and shipping data, meteorological and oceanographic data, and more – allows us to provide a new set of indicators for measuring economic changes in granular detail across key sectors of the economy.”

Volker Schumacher, Applications Engineer at ESA, said: “ESA guided the QuantCube team through its business applications programme in a demonstration project and helped to co-fund the firm’s service development into the best way of incorporating Earth observation data, for instance from the Copernicus programme’s Sentinel satellites, within its real-time economic indicators.

“We’re very happy that QuantCube is now launching these four new global satellite indicators to market and that financial institutions and other organisations will be able to benefit from this new real-time economic intelligence.”


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