Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Discovery Day Resources

Making efficiencies using satellites – “It’s not rocket science”

A Local Digital Discovery day for Local Government, hosted by the Space for Smarter Government Programme (SSGP) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Local Digital Programme, focused on accelerating the uptake of satellite-enabled services to make efficiencies and improve local services.

The event held on 13 March 2015 at the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell, Oxfordshire was attended by around 70 participants and had representatives from 30 different Local Authorities.

The objectives of the day were to:

  • Understand the basics of satellite application opportunities for local services
  • Demonstrate examples of how satellite data is already being used by Local Authorities (LA)
  • Explore how local government can use satellite data to improve public services and save money
  • Identify ideas for how local government can work with the satellite industry going forward

All of the presentations from the day are available below.

  1. Introduction to Local Government
  2. The Satellite Applications Landscape
  3. The basics of Space Applications – Earth Observation
  4. The basics of Space Applications – PNT
  5. The basics of Space Applications – Sat Comms


A number of services were discussed but it was clear from each of these that there were underlying structures and issues to address, such as:

  • Optimisation of resources
    • Targeting Local Authority work responses rather than routine schedules
    • Asset tracking and removing redundant journeys
  • Subscription based models for satellite services
    • As opposed to one LA owning and running them
    • Would also allow for national services if procurement was more standardised
  • There are direct costs and savings but often the benefits of satellite services are in social benefits rather than directly in Local Authorities budgets so this needs to be understood and appreciated
  • Information sharing and data integrity are essential
    • Capturing data once limits the overall costs

One of the attendees summarised to say that “satellites help complete the solution where the data is combined with other datasets” and that the real scope with satellite data “is to look at the problems nationally and sharing responsibilities across borders to save work on the ground”.

Participants stressed the importance of case studies highlighting the benefits of satellite applications. The case study needs to focus on the benefits, cost savings and results and not necessarily the exciting science.

A number of paradigms that needed shifting were also noted:

  • Satellite data is not Local Authority boundary specific
    • Collaboration is key across authorities and funders
  • New models of service delivery
    • Potential to facilitate those that can do the delivery and allow them to do it rather than expect Local Authorities to do it themselves
  • Move away from reactive to a proactive, preventative real-time work
  • Do service providers want to sell into Local Government or be a partner in a collective solution?
  • Sustainability of services and commercialisation of services
    • Services to councils being free / cost neutral and utilise their data sets and key distribution networks