DARPA taps geospatial analytics startup for cloud data marketplace

September 19, 2018 // By Rich Pell
DARPA taps geospatial analytics startup for cloud data marketplace
Geospatial analytics startup Descartes Labs (Santa Fe, NM) has announced that it has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to participate in a program designed to harness commercially available geospatial imagery.

DARPA's Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program "seeks to enable instant access to the most up-to-date images anywhere in the world, as well as cutting-edge tools to analyze them." It plans to do so by virtually aggregating the ever increasing vast amounts of commercial and open-source satellite data that is available in multiple formats - optical, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and radio frequency (RF) — in a common cloud-based repository with automated curation tools, relieving data scientists of the need to gather, curate, and prepare data from disparate sources.

As part of the platform selection phase of GCA, Descartes Labs was awarded a $2.9 million project with a phase two award option of $4.2 million, for a total of $7.2 million. Teams selected by DARPA will use the Descartes Labs Platform - which features a cloud-native infrastructure designed to provide the storage, computing, access, and tools needed to analyze massive, complex geospatial datasets - to build global-scale applications and offer them in the marketplace as a commercial service for data scientists.

The GCA marketplace will address several specific analysis objectives, including food security (strategic analytics), fracking (operational analytics), and maritime change detection/illegal fishing (tactical analytics). To support these objectives, and pave the way for the development of additional applications, says the company, it will integrate up to 75 new datasets sourced from members of a diverse data partner network.

"Our vision of the future aligns well with the goals DARPA has for this program," says the company. "Data scientists will be able to harness the proliferation of sensor data and design and run more calculations than ever before, creating new opportunities to understand our world."

"New applications will be made available to speed science along and find, and predict, answers faster. We are building a virtual data refinery that will power this marketplace, to give analysts the tools and computational horsepower for doing global science at scale right at their fingertips."

Descartes Labs
DARPA

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