Glossary of terms and acronyms
related to geo information services

Data: in the context of this study, data is a digital steam coming from one or more sensors (mainly satellites) that are then used as the basis for processing into information. EO data is that data related to the measurement of parameters associated with the Earth.

Data providers (data suppliers): EO data providers distribute raw data from their own or other satellite systems. Initial processing on raw data, such as radiometric correction and geometric correction is usually carried out to correct for any distortion due to the characteristics of the imaging system and imaging conditions. See also Satellite Operator.

Data Processing Services: service type converting available data into easy, accessible and available format.

Data types from data providers: Some definitions below will help us with the understanding what type of data companies are supplying.

  • Low and medium: Satellite data with low and medium resolution are characterized by spatial resolution at hundreds of meters down to a few tens of metres. We have taken a cut-off between medium and high resolution imagery of 20m.
  • High: Satellite data with high resolution are defined by spatial resolution less than 20m but higher than 2.5m
  • Very high: Satellite data with very high resolution of less than 2.5m.
  • Radar: Radar data is coming from a SAR (Synthetic Aperture radar). The performance of radar systems is not yet as high as those from optical systems hence we take a threshold between high and medium resolution of 5m and between high and medium resolution of 20m.
  • Airborne: This data, which can come from a number of different sensor types, should be requested when high speed and high precision image collection is needed.
  • UAV’s (Unmanned airborne vehicles) or RPAS (Remotely piloted aircraft systems) are becoming increasingly common. In terms of data they do not differ significantly from conventional airborne systems excepting that the quality will generally be lower due to payload limitations.

Downstream: This is used to refer to the part of the value chain delivering information services. We make the distinction between “value-adding” and “downstream” to separate those companies which are dealing directly with data coming from EO satellites ie EO data and those working with derived products in which EO data has been used. The distinction is expected to become more important for future surveys where we anticipate to analyse further down the value chain.

EO geo-information services company: A company using EO data coming from satellites in any of its products however small that might be. Hence it could be doing 99% of its business using airborne or ground based data and only 1% based on EO data but its figures for geo-information services will be included 100% in the survey. On the other hand only the business of a company concerned with geo-information services will be included. Hence a company doing 99% of its business in satellite manufacturing and only 1% in geo-information services, would only have 1% of its figures included in the survey.

Earth Observation related Services: The term EO-related services is taken to mean any geo-spatial information service activity which in some way involves data coming from EO satellites (including meteorological satellites) ie any satellite with one or more sensors that measure parameters coming from the earth’s surface or atmosphere. The involvement may be direct ie processing or distributing imagery or indirect ie consultancy based around knowledge of the imagery or its use. It starts from the point where imagery is transmitted to the ground so it does include reception and processing of imagery but does not include construction of ground stations or the satellites delivering the data. Note that it includes all geo-spatial information services activities where satellite EO data has been used and so extends to downstream information processing of geospatial information where data being used has been derived from EO imagery possibly in combination with other data types.

Ground Station Operator: An organisation which is operating the equipment necessary to control and to acquire data from EO satellites. They may be doing this for their own satellites or under contract to a satellite operator or other 3rd party.

Raw Data Sales: Service type which sale of data collected on source which has not been subjected to processing or any other manipulation.

Value Adding: The EO Value Adding sector is the group of companies that processes the raw or semi-processed data from the remote sensing instruments, and converts the data into information that is commercially useful to end users.

Value Adding Services: are defined as any business process meeting any of the following criteria: enhancing or upgrading the space signal; targeting specific end-users with dedicated applications; combining several applications at once.

Value Chain: Earth Observation industry composes a unique value chain that provides various information to the customers. The whole EO value chain includes EO system providers, system operators, data providers, value-adding, downstream, research Institutes, non-EO service providers and customers. In this survey we are only concerned with companies that supply or work with EO data in some form.