Stephen Wood, Vice President, DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center
As we reflect on the incredible changes that took place in Egypt in the past weeks, I’m amazed and excited about a new role satellite imagery is playing in world affairs.
DigitalGlobe supplied imagery on a near daily basis throughout the Egyptian protests, helping media outlets and others understand just what was happening on the ground. We were able to see daily how and where crowds were gathered, the evolving response from the government and the military, and clear images of where protesters, tanks and military personnel were converging.
It wasn’t just about casting a lens on an area of the world. It was about telling the whole story, answering the many important questions the entire world was asking. How large were the protests, and where were they growing? What equipment was the military using to defend key positions? And what was the potential economic impact of the uprising?
We could answer many of these questions by looking at daily imagery of Tahrir Square, the Suez Canal and the oil fields across the country. Within eight hours each day, we processed and analyzed the imagery. We could see then, from unfiltered, unedited pictures, proof that protests were growing exponentially. That ships were still moving through the canal. That oil production continued.
We had answers. And for the first time during massive political change, we could help people see the full story. Witnesses around the world shared our images at a rate we’ve never seen before, tweeting, retweeting and posting them as clear evidence of the amazing events across Egypt. Our commercial satellites had truly become high tech witnesses in the sky.
As we expand our constellation and ground network, our goal is to process images and deliver insights as close as possible to real time. What I know now is that the world will be watching, and waiting, to see just what stories these pictures tell.
Note: You can see some of these images, including the demonstrations and celebrations, at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalglobe-imagery/5451619256/in/set-72157625943553169/