Astrosat Manages the Jungle of Malaysia with Data from Space

The space science and management company Stevenson Astrosat Ltd. and Copernicus Masters winner 2015 was invited to make the effectiveness of its revolutionary Recovery and Protection in Disaster (RAPID) system evident to the Malaysian government in field conditions. In association with the UK Space Agency and its International Partnership for Space team (IPSP), Astrosat’s CEO, Steve Lee demonstrated the capabilities of the RAPID system to Malaysian ministers for more than 14 intense hours in the jungle, alongside fellow IPSP company Crib Gogh.

RAPID – Recovery and Protection in Disaster
The technology solution designed by Astrosat accumulates, manages, analyses and shares critical infrastructure data, enabling a modular system of data layers. RAPID is characterised by an intuitive design, intended to turn a huge density of information in the form of data streams into a welcome and easily interpreted interface, within the chaotic environment of disaster relief. In doing so, the practical use of ‘downstream’ data, that is data taken from orbiting satellites, supports first responders in dramatic circumstances of disaster relief.

Deforestation challenges Malaysia
Especially in Malaysia, deforestation causes dangerous and devastating flash floods. Therefore deforestation is one of the main concerns of Malaysian government ministers. In order to show how RAPID could address this endangerment, Astrosat needed to prove that its technological solution was capable of working underneath the country’s jungle canopies. By using Earth observation data and turning it into easy to observe imagery of the according landscape, RAPID’S technology enables quick assessment in critical situations, as every second counts. Thereby, RAPID can especially assist first responders in difficult to access terrains, in order to evaluate the situation as quick as possible and action can be taken efficiently.

Astrosat provides real time data in the jungle
The Scottish space science and management company was able to demonstrate tailor-made data layers showing real-time satellite imagery in the depths of the jungle. This was a major achievement, considering the lack of cellular or wireless network as well as the challenging jungle canopy that represented a significant hurdle through obscuring satellite signalling. RAPID processes raw satellite data into interactive digital maps which can be queried via non-technical staff in a user-friendly manner. This technology turns raw data from space into valuable intelligence and provides the end user with a powerful visualisation tool.

The Malaysian ministers were very impressed on-site. The demonstration of Astrosat’s technology, brought data collected from space down below the vast tree canopies of the jungle.

To target problems effectively, Astrosat equipped RAPID with the ability to record customisable layers of data. This results in the ability for developing nations to select the environmental data they need desperately and which they consider to be a national priority. What has been successfully demonstrated in Malaysia could be a solution for multiple other countries around the globe, which are dealing with similar environmental issues.

Astrosat is a private sector managed Earth Observation (EO) company based in Edinburgh, Scotland that focuses on commercial development and exploitation of EO data. Their clients are spread all over the globe – from South East Asia to Central America – and consume products as diverse as deforestation monitoring to energy efficiency in the urban environment. Astrosat’s team of 24 people includes astronautic experts, oceanographers and geoscientists. It has won numerous awards for its innovative exploitation of the space sector. Most recent was the triumph of the 2015 Copernicus Masters Smart Cities and Intelligent Transport Challenge in October last year.

Copernicus Masters
Earth observation and the big data it produces hold huge potential for the creation of innovative products and services. Myriad industries and areas of public interest stand to profit from the advances of the Copernicus programme. On behalf of ESA, Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO) and its world-class partners launched the Copernicus Masters in 2011 as part of its mission to foster user uptake of Copernicus Services.
This international competition annually awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data. Since its inception, the Copernicus Masters has evolved into a unique global initiative for Earth observation by bundling a wide variety of knowledge and expertise. The submission phase for the 2016 edition will run from 15 April to 18 July.


Lena Nietbaur was Marketing & Communications Manager till December 2019.

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