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

Case Study: SterlingGEO – 100 to 1

General Information

  • Provider: SterlingGEO
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO)
  • Thematic area: Environment Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations Natural Hazards
  • End user(s): Central Government and Local Authorities


  • 2015

This project is ongoing and a final case study will be published upon its completion. In the meantime, below is the abstract of the project.

Project Background / Overview

Recent developments in UK government investment, software technology, data, the cloud and attitudes towards space as an applicable technology for government use, have created the potential for a perfect storm. Historically, capital expenditure costs, ongoing investment requirements and skill issues have limited the implementation of remote sensing within both national and local government. Whilst specific organisations have embraced the potential, it is far from ubiquitous and development of the market is slow.

The aim of this project is to break down these barriers to create a long-term sustainable use of remote sensing throughout sizable components of the UK government structure by:

  • Delivering services not technology – focussed on an specific issue creating direct and measurable returns on investment
  • Negating the need for capital investment, re-training, additional staff or major changes to IT infrastructure
  • Creating a vehicle for  data use, from existing sources to future capability including Sentinel, NovaSAR and next generation “small-sats”
  • Designing the service around the needs of the client and not the abilities of the technology

The aim will be to sign up 100 organisations across all elements of local and national government by 2016 to a range of services, powered by Space and other associated remote sensing technologies (airborne and ground). The organisations will access single or multiple “apps” through standard browser technology to view and download information (not data) in a form that is suitable for immediate use and knowledge creation, allowing decisions to be made.

Focus areas

The focus of the project is to deliver information derived from space to a wide range of government departments previously not using earth observation as a tool for completion of their terms of reference. It is intended that:

  1. An operational system is developed that provides a unique capability to:
    1. Ingest areas of interest (e.g. Administrative boundaries / specific sites / areas of interest)
    2. Use these to monitor available data from a range of earth observation data providers
    3. Identify data of use and consume, passing it to one or more processing engines to derive useful and meaningful information 
    4. Manipulate the analysis to deliver a product suitable for consumption by the end user in their standard business processes
  2. The system will have a range of processes (applications) suitable and valuable for one or more of the departments. These will range from change detection to environmental monitoring and feature extraction. Initial applications have been identified (e.g. illegal build monitoring and urban greenspace loss) however, the project will seek to engage with and develop on behalf of the departments involved.
  3. The users will receive on a pre-defined basis, information in a form that can be consumed easily and provides meaningful information into key decision making processes.
  4. The system will also allow historical analysis seeking to define trends over time in a form usable by the departments for future planning purposes (you do not know where you are going until you know where you have been and where you are)
  5. The project will seek to use open source data, leveraging existing government funding (e.g. Sentinel Series, OS Open Data and data published by specific Government organisations) where possible, to maximise the likely continuing use of the service.
  6. The project will seek to deliver a level of success such that the users will be keen to engage with one or more suppliers at the end2016, to continue the service in the years to come.
  7. Finally, the project will offer a robust demonstrable capability for all parties concerned in seeking global promotion of the UK space capability and the subsequent financial benefits from export sales.

Next steps

In the short term and by March 2016:

  • Base Operational system live.
  • Test applications provided to circa 5 organisations
  • Demonstration bed available for engagement of the wider community
  • Route for further apps to be created in place