San Francisco International Airport © 2019, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

Civil Government Expands Investment in High Frequency Satellite Imagery


Effective governance requires good data. Local governments are spending billions to upgrade their technology infrastructure, ranging from smart cities initiatives to data migration to the cloud. At the same time, budgets are constrained and expenditures need to be justified by demonstrating clear value.

Planet satellite imagery is proving to be a cost-effective data source that enables government leaders to make more informed decisions with real-time information. Planet has signed a roster of new deals with civil government customers in the first half of 2019, underscoring continued traction in this strategic market.

The City & County of San Francisco is using Planet’s high resolution imagery for biweekly monitoring of infrastructure upgrades and maintenance at San Francisco International Airport. This includes the upcoming multi-million dollar project to reconstruct one of the main runways which accounts for more than two thirds of all traffic. Planet’s current imagery enables more efficient reviews of airport plan updates, and allows airports to collaborate more effectively with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on airport planning, design, operations and maintenance decisions.

At the state level, Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management enrolled as a new Planet customer after the United States Midwest experienced the wettest spring on record in over 100 years.

“When disaster strikes, you need to take immediate action,” says Jon Paoli, who serves as Iowa’s GIS/IT Coordinator Communications and Infrastructure Bureau Chief.

Pacific Junction, Iowa, before the flooding in early 2019 © 2019, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pacific Junction, Iowa, after the flooding in early 2019 © 2019, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Planet’s always-on, high frequency satellite imagery allowed Paoli and his team to generate a state-wide, up-to-date assessment of the scale and scope of damages during recent record floods. They were able to ensure a coordinated response by aligning stakeholders at all levels reaching up to the governor.

“Planet data helped us direct our attention and resources,” Paoli says. “We increased our situational awareness with the most recent images of affected areas throughout the state.”

Planet is also growing its global customer base outside of the U.S. In Colombia, Autoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales, the national agency responsible for issuing environmental licenses, is using Planet imagery to monitor permitted areas to evaluate whether there is deterioration of the environment and natural resources due to human activity. Without satellite imagery, it can be challenging and expensive to regularly monitor permitted areas, particularly in remote locations.

Renewal customers speak to the unique value of Planet imagery.

“No other data source provides you so much imagery, so frequently, in such hard to reach regions,” says Davide Bertolo, chief geologist at Regione Autonoma Valle d’Aosta in Italy.

The Alps are a popular tourist destination, but landslides pose a severe risk in this region. Bertolo’s team is in charge of ensuring protection for the community and tourists, who are an important source of income.

“We assessed other imagery options,” Bertolo says. “But only Planet could provide an economical option covering our entire region at the frequency and resolution we need.”

The variety of applications across different geographic regions speaks to the opportunity for continued adoption of satellite imagery in the sector. Planet’s customer base also includes New Mexico State Land Office, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Humboldt County in California, and County of San Luis Obispo in California.