Planet image of Odessa, Ukraine taken June 20, 2022. PlanetScape Ai has recently shared that their human rights work has extended into Ukraine. © 2022, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
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PlanetScape Ai and Planet’s Professional Services Team Scale the Fight for Human Rights


PlanetScape Ai works with governments and international organizations to support human rights worldwide. Born of founder and chief scientist Andrew Marx Ph.D.’s years of research into genocide, geographic information systems, and remote sensing, PlanetScape Ai specializes in the development and implementation of customized analytic services, leveraging artificial intelligence and high-cadence data streams to provide actionable information to decision-makers worldwide.

Regions experiencing war or internal political instability are at increased risk of mass atrocities. The chaos that breeds the conditions leading to war crimes and genocide can also make reporting difficult, if not impossible. Countries may impose flight restrictions, and on-the-ground reporting is dangerous and inefficient. But, Marx says, “Planet’s space-based observations give us the ability to see what’s happening in the darkest corners of the world. We’re talking about areas where we have no other information coming out. [Remote sensing] is a way we can investigate these areas.” 

The goal of these programs, Marx says, is to prevent something like another Darfur, “where large-scale attacks are occurring over the course of weeks or months and we don’t hear about it until people make it to a neighboring international border.” According to Marx, deploying modern satellite-based monitoring programs can help in two ways. First, and the primary goal, is to identify what’s happening quickly and get that information to groups that can prevent further violence. Second, it helps document incidents for international criminal courts or future war crimes tribunals. 

“What Planet does is unprecedented. It reduces the time of detecting an attack—to as little as 24 hours—and it narrows the time window of when that attack occurred,” shared Marx. “Knowing when something was last intact and when it was first detected as destroyed increases the evidentiary value of the information. A narrow window can be used with other information, such as if there were military units in the area who may have done this. That’s something that Planet brings to the table, which is new – decreasing that time window.” 

PlanetScape Ai uses PlanetScope data and proprietary algorithms and workflows to run large scale, custom, satellite-based monitoring programs. The powerful combination of data and algorithms increases efficiency by orders of magnitude over traditional satellite-based monitoring programs. 

That efficiency wasn’t a given when PlanetScape Ai started using Planet, however. Marx needed help to figure out how to scale his monitoring to large areas. With this in mind, they reached out for assistance at Planet. Planet’s Customer Success organization is a dedicated team that works to understand Planet customers’ unique use cases and work with them toward accomplishing the mission at hand. 

“Working with Andrew Marx at PlanetScape Ai was an ideal scenario. He had the vision, knowledge, experience and he knew what needed to be done to successfully build out his project. But there was the project-specific edge case of the algorithm that he needed to develop to automate and scale his efforts. In conversations with Andrew, he shared his timeline and expressed that he needed to bring in additional resources to assist in the development of the algorithm. I suggested we talk with Planet’s Professional Services team to scope out the efforts,” said Kinsie Rayburn, Customer Success Manager at Planet. 

In less than two months, with only weekly check-ins, Marx shared that “Planet’s Professional Services group was able to help us realize efficiencies using state-of-the-art cloud computing approaches. The robust code base the team put together will make expanding to more regions and larger areas a lot easier. The resiliency and the documentation make it easy to scale. That’s a tremendous benefit as opposed to a customized solution, which only serves one purpose. We ended up realizing efficiencies we weren’t expecting.”

What efficiencies? Planet Professional Services reduced PlanetScape Ai’s time running Amazon Web Services (AWS) from an expected 6 hours a day to less than 2 hours a day with cloud-based parallel processing. This reduction meant that PlanetScape Ai’s first long-term monitoring campaign quickly justified the initial cost of the Professional Services contract. In addition, Planet Professional Services took the initiative to create additional automations for PlanetScape Ai’s analytic workflows, which saved PlanetScape Ai an estimated $80K/year in buildout costs and maintenance.

“We looked to Planet’s Professional Services for cutting-edge best practices engineering and scaling, and that’s what they delivered. Future work should be a lot easier because they developed it correctly with good documentation. I’m thrilled with the work and look forward to working with the team again,” said Marx.

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