Reprocessing Data Challenges of Producing A Time Series

August 2009 Monthly Chlorophyll-a Composite; data courtesy of the ESA Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative project

August 2009 Monthly Chlorophyll-a Composite; data courtesy of the ESA Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative project

Being able to look back at how our planet has evolved over time, is one of the greatest assets of satellite remote sensing. With Landsat, you have a forty year archive to examine changes in land use and land cover. For in situ (ground based) monitoring, this is something that’s only available for a few locations, and you’ll only have data for the location you’re measuring. Landsat’s continuous archive is an amazing resource, and it is hoped that the European Union’s Copernicus programme will develop a second comprehensive archive. So with all of this data, producing a time series analysis is easy isn’t it?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. There are the basic issues of different missions having different sensors, and so you need to know whether you’re comparing like with like. Although data continuity has been a strong element of Landsat, the sensors on Landsat 8 are very different to those on Landsat 1. Couple this with various positional, projection and datum corrections, and you have lots of things to think about to produce an accurate time series. However, once you’ve sorted all of these out and you’ve got your data downloaded, then everything is great isn’t it?

Well, not necessarily; you’ve still got to consider data archive reprocessing. The large Space Agencies, who maintain this data, regularly reprocess satellite datasets. This means that the data you downloaded two years ago, isn’t necessarily the same data that could be downloaded today.

We faced this issue recently as NASA completed the reprocessing of the MODIS Aqua data, which began in 2014. The data from the MODIS Aqua satellite has been reprocessed seven times, whilst its twin, Terra, has been reprocessed three times.

Reprocessing the data can include changes to some, or all, of the following:

  • Update of the instrument calibration, to take account of current knowledge about sensor degradation and radiometric performance.
  • Appyling new knowledge, in terms of atmospheric correction and/or derived product algorithms.
  • Changes to parallel datasets that are used as inputs to the processing; for example, the meteorological conditions are used to aid the atmospheric correction.

Occasionally, they also change the output file format the data is provided in; and this is what has caught us out. The MODIS output file format has changed from HDF4 to NetCDF4 with the reason, being that NetCDF is a more efficient, sustainable, extendable, and interoperable data file format. A change we’ve known about for a long time, as it resulted from community input, but until you get the new files you can’t check and update your software.

We tend to use a lot of Open Source software, enabling our clients to carry on working with remote sensing products without having to invest in expensive software. The challenge is that it takes software provider time to catch up with the format changes. Hence, the software is unable to load the new files or the data is incorrectly read e.g., comes in upside down. Sometimes large changes, mean you may have to alter your approach and/or software.

Reprocessing is important, as it improves the overall quality of the data, but you do need to keep on top what is happening with the data to ensure that you are comparing like with like when you analyse a time series.

New Horizons for Remote Sensing

This image of Pluto from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was received on July 13, and has been combined with lower-resolution colour information from the Ralph instrument. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.

This image of Pluto from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was received on July 13, and has been combined with lower-resolution colour information from the Ralph instrument. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.

You can’t have failed to have seen the amazing images of Pluto taken by the New Horizon spacecraft over the last week. What you may not have thought about, is that these images are taken using remote sensing technology.

Remote sensing, particularly when referred to as Earth observation, is thought of as a scientific field focussed on looking at our planet – we often use this in our own marketing! However, the simplest definition of remote sensing is being able to know what an object is without being in physical contact with it (inspired by Sabins 1978). Although the Earth is the most obvious example, European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to comet 67P highlighted, remote sensing can go extra-terrestrial, or in this case interplanetary!

New Horizons has seven scientific instruments: three optical, two plasma, a dust sensor and a radio science receiver/radiometer. The three optical instruments are:

  • Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) that’s a panchromatic high magnification imager, which at its closest approach will have a pixel size of approximately 50 m.
  • Ralph is a visible and infrared imager and spectrometer that has three panchromatic and four colour imagers within its Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera, which takes images twice a day; it has a pixel size of around 250 m. In addition, Ralph has a Linear Ealon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) that’s an infrared spectrometer with 1.25 – 2.50 micron wavelengths, which will produce thermal maps of Pluto.
  • Alice is an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer with 1 024 spectral channels at 32 spatial locations along its rectangular field of view. It analyses the composition and structure of Pluto’s atmosphere, by measuring either ultraviolet emissions or absorption of sunlight by the atmosphere. A basic version of Alice is also onboard Rosetta.

The image at the top of the blog, which was first shown around the world last week, was taken in black and white by LORRI, but has been combined with lower resolution colour information from the Ralph instrument – a technique call image fusion.

The remaining scientific instruments are:

  • REX (Radio Science EXperiment): measures atmospheric temperature and pressure.
  • SWAP (Solar Wind Around Pluto): studying Pluto’s interaction with solar winds.
  • PEPSSI (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation): a directional energetic particle spectrometer, measuring the density, composition, and nature of particles escaping Pluto’s atmosphere.
  • SDC (Student Dust Counter): built and operated by students of the University of Colorado, it measures the concentration of space dust in the solar system.

The pictures produced by the instruments on New Horizons are fantastic. However, with extra-terrestrial remote sensing the travel time involved is significant; New Horizons was launched on the 19 January 2006 and Rosetta on the 2 March 2004. This means the technology onboard is a decade old, although they were cutting edge instruments at launch and so the lag is probably not ten years, but it is behind what we can do now. For example, QuickBird-2 has a pixel size of 0.61 – 0.72 m. However, improved spatial resolution is not only dependent on the technology. The high speed flyby of Pluto meant sensors only had a short amount of time to take the images, and so the focus needed to be the whole planet, or specific areas, in high resolution detail. There is also the problem of bandwidth, and the difficulty in transferring large amounts of data back to Earth.

Remote sensing is a fast moving field of science, technological advances and innovative ideas for data that mean exciting discoveries happen regularly. Last week’s UK Space Conference gave an insight into what’s happening next. Make sure you’re onboard!

 

Pixalytics blog with contributions from Davydh Tretheway.

2015 UK Space Conference Lifts Off

Uk Space 2015We’re at the UK Space Conference 2015 in Liverpool, and exhibiting! The opening day of the conference has been interesting, exciting and bookended by astronauts. The conference’s plenary session began with an upbeat assessment of the UK space industry, and the progress being made on the UK Space Growth Strategy of delivering a £40 bn sector by 2030; we’re currently at £11.8 bn. The plenary also had a presentation from Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut; and the day ended with Tim Peake, Britain’s next astronaut, phoning into the conference from his preparations in Baikonur.

The European Space Agency’s new Director General, Prof Johann-Dietrich Woerner, gave a very inspiring presentation that put space at the heart of society, politics, science and technology and highlighted the need for new ambitions, disruptive technologies and a village on the far side of the moon! Other interesting presentations included Aleksandra Mir & Alice Sharp who explored the collaborations between art and space. Stuart Armstrong from the fantastically named ‘Future of Humanity Institute’ explained how we could colonise the universe, using natural resources from the planet Mercury. Stuart Marsh, from the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, described using a greater range of persistent features (rather than just urban and rocky features as previously used) to provide more complete maps of ground movement from InSAR. A thought provoking session on the use of Earth Observation data within Climate Services took place on day two, particularly on the need to start developing information products, rather than simply providing data and images.

The exhibition has also been positive. We’ve had good conversations with new people, reconnected with some old friends and given talks to groups of schoolchildren who attended as part of the conference’s Outreach / Education Programme.

Pixalytics stand at UK Space Conference

Pixalytics stand at UK Space Conference

At our first exhibition earlier this year, we published ten top tips for first time exhibitors; now we’d like to add an eleventh – Make sure you know whether or not you have a stand? We are not kidding! We’d reserved exhibition space within the Small Business Hub, which included a cocktail table, two stools and space for one pull-up banner. The plan looked like we were all on one big stand with tables distributed throughout; however, when we turned up yesterday we had our own stand complete with walls! This was a surprise to us, and all the other Small Business Hub exhibitors. The surprise was followed by creative thinking, a shopping trip and then we Blue Peter’d our stand! You can judge the results in the picture on the right.

The conference was great, and can’t wait until 2017!

4 Things We’re Doing Differently for our 2nd Exhibition

Pixalytics-show preview imageNext week the UK Space Conference 2015 takes place in Liverpool, and Pixalytics is exhibiting! Regular blog readers will know we recently undertook our first foray into exhibiting at Geo-Business 2015, and we learnt a huge amount. Second time around we’re doing things slightly differently:

Different Type of Exhibition – The UK Space Conference has a full programme of speakers, and is complemented by the exhibition; whereas Geo-Business was focussed around the exhibition and was complemented by a conference programme. This difference means the UK Space Conference exhibition will be visited mostly during coffee breaks and lunch. There will of course be people around not attending particular sessions, but on the whole it will be quieter during the conference programme. The question is how many people will take time out from eating and drinking to visit the exhibition?

Different Exhibiting Space – At our first exhibition we hired a space, and then had to fill it. This time we’re part of the Small Business Hub within the exhibition, and alongside a number of other small companies we’ll have a cocktail table, a pair of stools and space for one pull up banner. The lack of space is compensated by the fact it’s a much more cost effective way to exhibit. Obviously, there will be less to attract people’s attention to us, so how much of a footfall will we get in the hub?

Different Type of Attendee – All delegates have to pay to attend the UK Space Conference. In theory, the attendees will definitely want to be at the conference and will have clear links to the space industry; whereas with free entry exhibitions there is sometimes more of the ‘it could be interesting and lets have a look’ approach – we’re not knocking this, as we’ve used it a number of times ourselves. However, when money has to be paid out it lends a certain focus to attending. It will be interesting to see if this changes the quantity, or quality, of potential business leads visiting our stand.

Taking Less Promotional Material – One thing we learnt from our first experience was that we took too much promotional material, and we ended up bringing the majority back. The one advantage of over buying is that we already have promotional materials for this conference. We’ve had to design, and buy, a pull up banner, which is something new, otherwise we’ll only be taking the items we believe we’ll use.

There are a lot of different flavours of exhibitions. If you go to the industry focussed conferences you’re likely to be surrounded by competitors, if you go to customer focussed ones will they be interested in your products and if you go to niche exhibitions it may only be relevant to one part of your business. As a small company new to exhibiting, how do you know which one is right for you?

We’re finding this out by using the scientific process of experimentation; we’re trying two different conferences this year and will compare what we think they have achieved for us. Next year we may do something different again, until we find out what works best.

If you’re up at the UK Space Conference next week, pop into the Small Business Hub in the centre of the exhibition hall and say hello!

Why the Current Internet Satellite Space Race Matters?

Artist's rendition of a satellite - mechanik/123RF Stock Photo

Artist’s rendition of a satellite – mechanik/123RF Stock Photo

The starting gun fired some time ago on the race to create a global satellite internet network. Last week OneWeb, backed by the Virgin Group and Qualcomm, stretched its legs with the announcement of a $500 million investment from companies including Airbus and Coke-Cola. The project intends to create a network of 648 microsatellites providing global high-speed internet and telephony services, to ensure everywhere on the planet has access. It’s planned these will be launched in batches, starting in 2017 with go live in 2019.

However, OneWeb isn’t the only runner in this race. Elon Musk’s Space X company, backed by Google, also has plans for a 4 000 strong internet satellite network; testing is due to begin in 2016 and current plans have it reaching full capacity around 2030.

These two developments could signal a change of pace in the satellite industry, as they will both be using mass produced satellites. Although neither project has realised the specifications for their microsatellites, some details are available. Both networks will be in Low Earth Orbits of around 1100 to 1200 km, weights will also be similar with OneWeb’s at 150 kg and Space X’s slightly more at around 200 kg. The microsatellite size is expected to be around half a square metre – although little has been announced about this to date; Airbus was recently awarded the build contract for OneWeb. Both constellations plan to use the microwave frequency Ku band, although Space X has also indicated interest in the Ka band.

Apart from mass production, the other element of these networks worth thinking about is the sheer quantity of satellites involved. The United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs recorded 239 satellites launched last year, and this was the greatest number ever launched in a single year. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists last satellite database, from 31 January 2015, there are current 1 265 satellites in orbit around the Earth. Therefore, if both of these projects cross the finish line, they will more than quadruple the current number of satellites.

More objects in space increases the likelihood of potential collisions and impacts, and increases the potential space junk and debris in the atmosphere – although, OneWeb has already announced plans for deorbiting its satellites at end of life. This increase of objects in LEO does bring to mind the Kessler Syndrome hypothesized by Donald Kessler in 1978. He proposed a scenario where the density of objects in LEO is so great that the debris from a single collision between two objects would set off a cascade of subsequent collisions so great, that it would prevent any further spacecraft from passing through the LEO area; as explored in the 2013 film Gravity. This level of satellite concentration will need careful managing and monitoring.

In terms of Earth observation, the satellites will probably cause minimal impact. Due to their size, they will show up as rogue pixels on very high-resolution images, but wouldn’t register on the coarser resolution of systems such as Landsat. In terms of frequency bands, the Ku band isn’t generally used for Earth observation; although the altimeter, ALTIKA, onboard the joint French and Indian SARAL mission does operate at the Ka band and any use of that band by the Space X project will be worth watching. This isn’t the first time Earth observation has had to fight its corner for bandwidth, there is an ongoing battle with mobile data companies for use of these microwave frequencies that could also be used for wireless data transmission.

The internet satellite space race is an event that must be watched, it will change the satellite and telecommunication industries; and has the potential to change fundamentally what orbits the Earth.

Month on the World’s Oceans

San Francisco USA, Pseudo-true colour image. Landsat 8 data courtesy USGS/NASA/ESA

San Francisco USA, Pseudo-true colour image. Landsat 8 data courtesy USGS/NASA/ESA

June’s been a really busy month for me on the world’s oceans. I’ve not actually been out on the water, but flying over it having attended both the World Ocean Summit and the International Ocean Colour Science (IOCS) meeting. Both of these events focussed on the oceans, although they had very different participants and perspectives. In addition, the 8th June was also World Oceans Day and had the theme ‘Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet’.

The World Ocean Summit, organised by The Economist, took place at the start of June in Cascais, Portugal. It focused on the development of the blue economy, with most of the participants from governments or non-profit non-governmental organizations. There were a number of talks highlighting the potential innovation opportunities the world’s ocean might offer, and the policy and worldwide governance framework needed. Throughout the summit, there was a repeatedly voiced concern over the state of the world’s oceans, and the serious peril and decline it’s in. Whilst many large organisations are now looking to exploit the oceans, many local communities have been doing this for years and they are seeing changes and challenges. The oceans are an integral part of Earth’s ecosystem, and without them we could not survive on this planet. The resources are potentially huge, but tapping into these requires a co-ordinated bottom up approach. Otherwise we risk damaging the ocean and our own existence.

My second major event was IOCS last week in San Francisco, and as the name suggests the meeting focused on mapping and understanding the ocean through the use of ocean colour remote sensing i.e., detecting and quantifying what causes changes in the colour. The participants were mostly scientists, students and space agencies, who were discussing current work and future plans. There was obvious excitement over the launch of Sentinel-2 (which incidentally occurred successfully very early yesterday morning) and Sentinel-3, which will carry the OLCI ocean colour sensor, due to be launched towards the end of this year. Cloud cover remains a limiting factor in many locations, as clouds get in the way when optically sensing of the ocean and so the more data collected the better insight we’ll gain into the complexities of the biological processes.

There were lots of new areas of focus discussed at the meeting. I was particularly interested in exporting of carbon to the deep ocean and the calculation of uncertainties i.e., how well have we estimated the values that have been derived.

I was also fascinated by the development in our understanding of rapidly changing ecosystems, such as the Arabian Sea and high latitude polar oceans, which are strongly affected by the effects of climate changing; for example, the reduction of the snow cover over the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau region changes the strength of the Asian monsoon season, which in turn impacts the phytoplankton that bloom in the Arabian Sea. This has caused a particular species of plankton to bloom (Noctiluca, also known as sea sparkle because it can glow when disturbed at night), which are eaten by jellyfish but can negatively affect fisheries as they’re too big for zooplankton to eat.

I’d love to say after a busy month it’s good be home, but I’ve not quite got there yet! I went straight from San Francisco to Switzerland, where this week I’m attending the 2015 Dragon Symposium that’s focused on an Earth observation scientific exchange programme between the European Space Agency and China.

Sentinel-2A Ready To Start Its Watch

Integration of the Vega VV05, carrying Sentinel-2A, in the launcher assembly area at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 11 June 2015. Image courtesy of ESA–M. Pedoussaut, 2015

Integration of the Vega VV05, carrying Sentinel-2A, in the launcher assembly area at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 11 June 2015.
Image courtesy of ESA–M. Pedoussaut, 2015

Sentinel-2A is due to be launched next Tuesday, 23rd June, from French Guiana. It’s the second satellite in the joint European Union and European Space Agency Copernicus programme, following Sentinel-1A’s launch in April 2014. Sentinel-2A carries a Multispectral Imager (MSI) that has 13 spectral bands:

  • 4 visible and near infra red spectral bands with a spatial resolution of 10 m
  • 6 short wave infrared spectral bands with a spatial resolution of 20 m
  • 3 atmospheric correction bands with a spatial resolution of 60 m

It’s advantages over the US Geological Survey Landsat-8 mission includes the higher spatial resolution, and that Sentinel-2A is the first in a pair of satellites that will operate in tandem; Sentinel-2B is due to be launched next year. The key advantage of having an identical paired satellite constellation is that they can map the Earth much faster. On its own Sentinel-2A will return to the same point above the Earth, referred to as the revisit time, every 10 days; whereas it’s currently 16 days for Landsat-8. However, when Sentinel-2B is added the revisit time will halve to only 5 days at the equator. This improvement is hugely significant for the development of time critical applications. Also, there are plans to work Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 together to provide an even higher repeat coverage of around twice a week

When both Sentinel-2 satellites are operational, they will acquire over 1 Tb of data every single day, and currently this data has ESA Sentinel-2:

  • Land Use & Land Cover (LULC) Monitoring – Providing data on how land on the planet is used, and helping to monitor how this changes over time. For example, monitoring deforestation, desertification, reforestation, drying up of wetlands, urban creep and flood mapping amongst others. The European Commission leads the way in this type of monitoring with the CORINE Land Cover Project, which has produced European wide maps for 1990, 2000, 2006 and 2012 that classify 44 different types of land; available through the Copernicus Land Service.
  • Plant Health – Providing information on vegetation and growth such as leaf water content, which will be particularly helpful for farmers in determining when, and how much, to water crops to improve yields. Also wider uses such as the leaf area index (LAI), which is one of the Essential Climate Variables used by the United Nations to monitor climate change.
  • Inland and Coastal Water Management – Providing higher resolution ocean colour data than available from ocean colour missions, such as MODIS and VIIRS, that supports the monitoring of water quality. Using products such as Chlorophyll-a to help the identification, and mapping, of harmful phytoplankton algal blooms, and turbidity to measure water clarity.
  • Disaster Mapping – Supporting a variety of disaster situations through the Copernicus Emergency Management Service.

The Copernicus satellite programme offers an exciting new data source and is made available free of charge to users, making this a critical resource for everyone working in the Earth observation industry. Every company needs to look at what new products and services they could develop from Copernicus data, or how they can make existing processes more efficiently and effectively. If you don’t, you can guarantee someone else will. How are you going to the use Sentinel-2A data?

Three years and beyond …

3rd BirthdayThe start of June marked the three-year anniversary of Pixalytics! Given that statistics indicate almost half of all start up businesses fail with the first three years, the fact that we are still here is a major success!

Not only that, but in the last twelve months we grew turnover a little, paid salaries for the whole year, didn’t take on any more debt and had our first employee – albeit a fixed term and part-time employee, but an employee nonetheless! All of which we considered to be achievements; however we want more.

As any small business owner knows, it’s very easy to get sucked into the treadmill of finding work, completing the work, getting paid and then going straight back to finding more work. You spend so much time working in the company, there isn’t any time to work on the company which is critical for growth and development. During the second half of 2014, we spent time working on Pixalytics.

We’re in a mentoring scheme where we are based and we’ve worked with our mentor, Phil Johnston, to better understand our business. Having the external critical friend asking the awkward questions isn’t easy, sometimes we couldn’t answer Phil, sometimes we didn’t want to answer Phil and sometimes we completely disagreed with Phil. However, all of his questions made us think harder about what Pixalytics was and how we wanted to develop it. By the end of 2014 we’d updated our company brand, marketing materials, website and our strategic thinking.

We’re a science company, and we like to experiment and see what happens. At the start of 2015 we were ready to start our growth strategy. So far this year, we’ve:

  • We’ve written a book! The Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing is due to be published in October/November 2015.
  • Exhibited for the first time at GEO Business 2015, and we’ll also be exhibiting at the 2015 UK Space Conference.
  • Expanded both our customer base and the services we offer.
  • Started developing new ways of interacting with our clients.
  • Forecasting growth this year in excess of 35%.

We still have a long way to go, to get to where we want to be; we need to continue to develop the customer base and the products we offer. Andy is spending more and more time within the business and this will continue to grow, but we’d like to get to the point of being able to employee someone else full time.

The first three years have been a huge learning curve, we’ve made some mistakes and there are certain things we’d do differently. We experiment and if things don’t work out; we remember the words of Samuel Beckett:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

We’re a growing small company, and we want to do all we can to make sure it stays that way for the next three years and beyond.

Ten Top Tips for First Time Exhibitors

Pixalytics promotional postcards

Pixalytics promotional postcards

This is the last blog in our quartet covering our first experience of exhibiting; and today we’re going cover the top tips we wish we’d known before arriving at the exhibition.

  1. Know your sizes: We had a 2m by 2m exhibition stand and in addition, we’d bought a furniture package and hired a TV. When we arrived on build day, the furniture and TV stand took up so much space we wondered if we’d get in the stand let alone any potential customers! It looked like we had bought far too much equipment for your stand.
  2. Don’t start stand building too early: We knew our stand would not take hours to build, but wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. Stand building began at 8.00am, and when we arrived at 10.00am the venue was full of construction workers, power tools galore and metal bars that looked like they should be on a bridge somewhere! Just getting to our stand was an obstacle course, so we had a look around Islington in the morning and came back to a quieter exhibition venue in the afternoon.
  3. Have back up plans – We had a stand design in our heads, but it started to unravel immediately. The furniture was bigger than anticipated – see tip one! The stand walls weren’t fixed, they flexed; this meant we could not get enough pressure on the solid canvases to lock the Velcro strips, which were the recommended attachment method. Hence, our canvases would not stay up. (During the exhibition, we saw other exhibitors had attached things by using hooks over the stand walls, giving us a future construction method).After a bit of brainstorming, we used our furniture as display stands instead! It was not our original plan, but worked.
  4. Take a bag of useful items – Having items such as scissors, tape, stapler, bulldog clips, etc, made brainstorming and changing our plans (see tip 3) easier as we had options. For example, we used bulldog clips to hold up our flag bunting.
  5. Movie, not PowerPoint – The hired TV took a memory stick, but only displayed pictures or movies, and not the PowerPoint presentation we’d prepared. We converted the presentation overnight, but needed a little bit of help from the onsite TV people to put it on continuous loop.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up – From previous blogs, you’ll know we’re a small company doing an economical stand, and we were concerned how it would compare with the big companies. Our stand was different, and it looked like no other at the exhibition. It did generate a lot of talk. Our flag bunting split the crowd; some had bunting envy, others didn’t like it. However, it provided a great talking point for visitors – see tip 9.
  7. If you’re stuck, ask for help – All the exhibition organisers, equipment suppliers and venue staff were really helpful, and we got great assistance on everything we asked about including missing table foot, help on setting up the TV (see tip 4) and we’d like to extend a special thank you to Sophie who drew the winner of our prize draw.
  8. Buy less promotional items – On a previous blog we mentioned our decisions on which promotional items to take. The postcards were very successful, the leaflets were useful and the pens were fine (although, almost every stand offered free pens). What we didn’t get right were the quantities, we had bought far too many! Small businesses are resourceful, so the postcards will become our compliment slips and we’ll use the pens in the office … for most of the next decade!
  9. Talk to the visitors – I know it’s an obvious thing to say, but you have talk to people. It’s easy to stand and smile at people as they walk past, but it’s when you start talking to them that things happen. We were able to attract people onto the stand with our postcards and prize draw, and then we could start talking to them, which led to a number of unexpected and interesting conversations and possible leads.
  10. It is tiring!!! – It is exhausting standing around and talking to people all day, particularly when you are more used to being sat in an office. At the end of each day we were delighted to take our shoes off!

So was it worth it? Regularly blog readers will know this has been something we’ve been wondering for our first exhibition.

On the business side we spoke to many people, some we already knew and some we did not; both groups generated conversations and potential leads. The question is whether any of these leads will turn into actual turnover over the coming months.

On the exhibition side, we learnt a lot! We’ve got a small business stand at the 2015 UK Space Conference in Liverpool in July, which is a slightly different approach as we only have a space with a table and chairs, so it will provide an interesting comparison. We look forward to meeting any fellow GEO Business exhibitors also going to Liverpool.

We‘re on Stand K31 at Geo Business 2015!

We’ve made it! We’re officially first time exhibitors! After months of discussions, decisions and preparations, at this precise moment you’ll find us on stand K31 at the Geo Business Show 2015 in the Business Design Centre in London.

In a previous week, we discussed our approach to the exhibition and wanting to have something different that stands out without breaking the bank. The blog picture reveals our stand design; we’ve large scale canvas prints of a variety of satellite images coupled with retro items such as a globe and map bunting. We were a little worried about our stand construction, but it all seemed to go went well. Let us know what you think?

South West UK, Pseudo-true colour image. Landsat 8 data courtesy USGS/NASA

South West UK, Pseudo-true colour image. Landsat 8 data courtesy USGS/NASA

In terms of promotional items, we have our brochures, postcards of all the canvas prints, a number of A5 sheets on our key products/services and our pens. In addition, we’re giving away a small canvas Landsat image of South Devon, as shown on the right. Come on drop your business card or complete an entry form off at our stand, and we’ll select the winner tomorrow before the exhibition closes.

Geo Business 2015 runs both today and tomorrow, and so do come along and have a look at our stand. Give us some feedback on our design, enter the competition or just pick up a few postcards or a pen! If you feel like it, talk to us! We’d be glad to discuss remote sensing, Earth observation and all things Pixalytics with you; maybe find out if there is anything we might be able to help you, or your organisation, with. Who knows what ideas, products or solutions our discussions might come up with?

Don’t forget, tomorrow at 12.30pm in Room F, we’re running a free workshop called ‘How to add value to remote sensing by applying cutting edge scientific research to create richer imagery and data’. It would be great to see people there.

Finally, we’ve also previously talked about how we’d determine whether all of this effort is worthwhile. We’ve come up with these three metrics to measure our toe dipping into the exhibition world:

  • New contacts for customers or research partners.
  • In the next four months, gain sufficient new client business from the exhibition to cover our costs – after all this is why we are all exhibiting!
  • Develop a long-term business relationship over the course of the next year.

We’ll let you know how we got on next week. However, if you’re at Geo Business today or tomorrow why not come up and have look, talk to us and take away a few freebies. We’d love to see you.