PlanetScope image of agricultural fields in Kazakhstan taken June 20, 2024. © 2024 Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.
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Kazakhstan Leverages Planet Data for Agriculture, Resource Management, and Disaster Response


Spanning over a vast expanse of 2.7 million square kilometers, Kazakhstan stands as the world’s largest landlocked country–a colossal landmass characterized by its diverse geography, ranging from bustling urban centers, to sprawling steppes and rugged mountain ranges. For authorities tasked with monitoring land use and environmental change, both the scale of the country and the diversity of its environments present a considerable challenge.

As is the case almost anywhere where broad area monitoring is required, satellite imagery and remote sensing data provide avenues to overcome these challenges. The authorities in Kazakhstan have long recognized this fact. The country has developed and operated its own set of Earth observation satellites since 2015. It consists of both a high-resolution satellite, KazEOSat-1, and a medium-resolution satellite, KazEOSat-2. Since 2018, the imagery these satellites provide has been supplemented by data from Planet. The resulting combination of public and commercial data allows Kazakhstan to realize the full utility of satellite imagery in improving the efficiency and efficacy of public administration. 

“We found Planet data extremely valuable for us because we’re using it for monitoring the whole country,” said Osken Toishibekov, Deputy Chairman of the Board at KGS.

Kazakhstan’s satellites are operated by its national space operator, Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary (KGS), which is able to provide imagery to government agencies throughout the country. The imagery is utilized across civil government, including in agricultural monitoring, emergency and disaster management, forestry, water quality monitoring, permit enforcement, controlling illegal waste dumping, as well as in civil defense and national security applications. 

According to Toishibekov, “Planet was the only satellite data provider, which could meet our needs to monitor the whole country of Kazakhstan for agriculture, deforestation, water bodies, illegal constructions, or waste dumps.”

The small number of satellites operated by the KGS does, however, mean that its capacity to produce data at a high temporal cadence is limited. This means that for particular use cases, the data set is incomplete. In the areas of agriculture and monitoring of illegal logging, for example, the most valuable insights are derived when change can be detected over short periods of time–a cadence that the KGS system, with two satellites servicing many use cases, is often unable to provide.

This is where Planet comes in to provide KGS with supplementary satellite data via a simple, bundled package. This approach provides Kazakhstan with access to all new image collections over the country, as well as access to the entire Planet archive, which contains an average of 2,400+ images of nearly every location on Earth’s landmass. KGS is then able to act as the unitary distributor of satellite imagery for local and national authorities in Kazakhstan. Taking this approach towards transparent product bundling results in a simplified procurement process that is both cost effective and scalable. It is an efficient, streamlined approach that can easily be replicated globally in countries that face constraints similar to those in Kazakhstan. 

“Planet provides multidimensional data where we can look closer, deeper, wider, and even backwards to provide monitoring more comprehensively. We were able to discover more illegal constructions in cities and towns, so the government is able to take appropriate action. Because Planet has all the data tools, analytics in one cloud-based platform, we can provide more valuable information to our decision-makers,” added Toishibekov. 

The data set that combines Planet data with that of Kazakhstan’s own Earth observation satellites has proven to be invaluable. It has been utilized to identify over 1 million hectares of unused arable land in the country. Between 2018 and 2021 municipal authorities were able to use satellite imagery to identify and mitigate the number of illegal dumping sites in the country by 35%. The imagery the KGS system provides was also utilized to control for unauthorized construction in 551 cities and towns between 2019 and 2021. 

In Kazakhstan, state institutions operate a land distribution scheme, which allocates unoccupied plots of land for small scale agricultural production. Farmers are then able to utilize the land in accordance with the Land Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. KGS has been using Planet data to monitor land use under the scheme since 2019. Additionally, inappropriate land use was identified on 700,000 hectares. 

“Planet data is extremely valuable for us. Now the government can give this land to the farmers and boost development of agriculture in Kazakhstan,” said Toishibekov. 

These insights enable the effective utilization of Kazakhstan’s abundant land resources, to the benefit of small-scale farmers throughout the country. At the same time, satellite imagery is being used to enable those farmers to implement precision agricultural practices. Having successfully mapped the country’s arable farmland, KGS is able to utilize Planet data to provide farmers with both crop identification as well as yield forecasting. This data helps farmers throughout the country to optimize their planning and increase their overall productivity. 

Satellite imagery is also helping Kazakhstan to effectively manage and monitor its forestry resources. There are 12 million hectares of forested land in the country. Monitoring this valuable resource poses a significant challenge. KGS uses Planet data as a supplement to their own imagery to identify the construction of new roads and illegal logging sites. In addition, daily monitoring PlanetScope data enables KGS to detect and efficiently allocate resources to manage forest fires. The timely, broad-area monitoring provided by Planet is helping the relevant authorities build a more complete understanding of the hazards faced by the country’s forestry resources. 

In light of these outcomes, the result of years of effective cooperation between Planet and KGS, the government of Kazakhstan has decided to reaffirm their commitment to building out the country’s remote sensing capacity. In October of 2023, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry Bagdat Musin met with Robbie Schingler, Chief Strategy Officer at Planet. Together they signed a memorandum of understanding, confirming both parties’ commitment to continue working together in order to fully realize the potential utility of satellite imagery in the country.

“In the beginning we were just providing images for Kazakhstan. Now we are developing information systems and platforms where we provide not just the data or information…we are digitizing the business processes of government bodies where they use this data in their processes. Combining our data and Planet data is cost effective and scalable and can be repeated in other countries which can face the similar challenges like Kazakhstan,” said Toishibekov. 

This renewed commitment on the part of Kazakhstan is a testament to the power of satellite imagery as a tool for civil government. At Planet we work to make change in the world visible and accessible. By doing so, we enable our civil government customers to take action–to use their limited resources in a more efficient and effective way, and achieve better outcomes for the communities they serve.