UK Space Conference Getting Ready For Take Off

Next week we’ll be in Manchester at the 2017 UK Space Conference.

The UK Space Conference is held every two years, and attracted over 1,000 delegates and over 100 exhibitors when held in Liverpool in 2015. It is a key event that brings together the UK Space Community and this year is taking place over three days, 30th May to the 1st June.

We are exhibiting on stand C7, near the centre of the hall, where you’ll be able to come and talk to us about our products and services including:

  • Atmospheric correction
  • Consultancy services
  • Education & training
  • Flood mapping
  • Ocean colour
  • Spatial analyses & data management
  • Terrestrial vegetation
  • Turbidity mapping

We’re also delighted to announce that our Flood Mapping work is one of the products highlighted in the Innovation Zone, which is sponsored by Innovate UK. It is a low cost floodwater mapping product based on Sentinel-1 radar data, which provides easy to understand flood information and maps through an online portal without the need for specialist knowledge. We have partnered with Harris Geospatial Solutions to provide a fully automated solution.

We’ll also have copies of our book for sale, ‘Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing’. This takes complete novices through the process of finding, downloading, processing, visualising and applying remote sensing satellite data using their own PC, open-source software and a standard internet connection.

The 2017 UK Space Conference itself begins on the Tuesday morning with ‘Space 101’, which is a series of workshops covering some of the key issues related to working in the space sector. The conference then kicks off at lunchtime on the Tuesday with an opening plenary on the latest developments in the UK space sector.

There is a networking event in the Exhibition Hall between 6pm and 9pm on Tuesday evening, and we’ll be on our stand all evening.

Wednesday is brimming over with workshops, presentations, plenary and poster sessions, culminating in the Gala Dinner and Sir Arthur Clarke Awards. Finally, Thursday has another busy day of workshops and plenary sessions, before the Conference closes in the afternoon.

We’re really excited about being in Manchester next week, and looking forward to meeting old and new friends.

We hope that any of you who at the Conference will come up and say hello! We’d love to meet you!

Pixalytics Four Year Celebration!

Sutichak Yachaingham / 123 Stock Photo

Sutichak Yachaingham / 123 Stock Photo

The start of June marked the four-year anniversary of Pixalytics! We’d not realised that the time of year had come around again until Sam started receiving messages via her LinkedIn profile. A lot of small business owners are like us, busy working with their head down and they forget to look up and celebrate their successes and milestones.

So, although we had to be prompted to look up, we’re going to celebrate our milestone of Pixalytics thriving – or maybe surviving – for four years!

The last twelve months have been really successful for us, with the main highlights:

  • Doubling our company turnover.
  • Appointing our first additional full-time employee.
  • Having our book, Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing, published and being sold.
  • Winning a Space for Smarter Government Programme contract.
  • Expanding our EO products and services into AgriTech & flood mapping.
  • Being short-listed for the Plymouth Herald Small Business of the Year Award.
  • Being short-listed for the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) European EO Services Company Award.
  • Hosting two ERASMUS placements and other work experience students.

We wrote a blog last June identifying what we were hoping to achieve in the coming twelve months. The key things were developing our customer base, products, and services together with employing someone else full time. Those aims were definitely achieved!

Well, that’s enough of the celebrating! Like any other small business we’re much more interested in what’s in our future, than our past. We’ve still got plenty of challenges ahead:

  • Doubling our turnover was a big leap, and this year we’ve got to maintain that level and ideally grow more.
  • Despite having additional hands in the business, we still have more ideas than capacity. Some of the ideas we had last year have been taken forward by other companies, before we’ve had the chance to get around to them! We wish them success and will be watching with interest to see how they develop.
  • Marketing is hard work. None of us at Pixalytics are marketing experts, and it’s clear to us the difficulty of competing with firms who have sales and marketing teams promoting themselves at conferences and events. Our current approach is a combination of social media, and picking the events to attend. Both Sam and I are promoting Pixalytics this week, and then it’s back to the office next week to welcome our summer Space Placements in Industry (SPIN) student.

Our key target for the end of this year is to release an innovate series of automated Earth observation products and services that we can sell to clients across the world – we started to describe this journey here. We know we’ll be competing with companies much bigger than us and we know it’s not going to be easy, and to revisit the Samuel Beckett quote we used last year:

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

It still holds true for how we run our company. We try things. We fail. We succeed. We learn. We try new things.

We’re looking forward to what the next twelve months, or four years, have in store.

Four Step Countdown to a Book Launch

Book Launch EventRegular readers will know that we wrote our first book last year, ‘Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing’, and on Thursday, 11th February, Pixalytics is holding its first book launch event! We’ve organised it ourselves, and so we thought it might be helpful to give you our four tips for running your own event.

Four: Location, Location, Location
Where to hold the launch? We have a small office and it was not feasible to have it here, so we needed a venue. We thought about hiring rooms in hotels, bookshops or conference centres, but they didn’t feel right. It was then we thought of Plymouth Athenaeum, a local organisation interested in the promotion of the Arts, Literature, Science and Technology – as we’ve got a book on science and technology this seemed ideal!!

The Athenaeum building is in the centre of Plymouth, it was opened in 1961 after the original 1819 building was destroyed in the 1941 Plymouth Blitz. The venue has a lecture theatre, library and lounge which were perfect for what we wanted; it’s also got an actual theatre, but we decided that was a bit beyond us!

We met Owen Ryles, the Acting Honorary General Secretary, who was fantastic in sorting out the arrangements. We had a venue!

Three: Marketing & Publicity
Now we needed awareness. We needed marketing and publicity! We started tweeting about our event, and were delighted to get a lot of likes and retweets. We are really grateful to all our Twitter friends who got involved. The local newspaper, Plymouth Herald, ran an article. Our flyer was also circulated/promoted by other organisations, and we need to thank people at Hydrographic Society UK, Marine Learning Alliance, Plymouth Athenaeum, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth Science Park and Plymouth University who were all great.

Our event has been promoted around the Plymouth area, but also as far away as Australia and USA. We’ve definitely raised awareness!

Two: Freebies
Getting bums on seats. With lots of people knowing about the event, we need to get them out of the house on what looks like being a chilly and damp February evening. So we decided to give away some freebies! The event will have:

  • Free entry
  • Free raffle to win a copy of the book will be drawn on the night.
  • Free postcards, leaflets and pens on remote sensing and Pixalytics.
  • Free refreshments – tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes.

One: Know Your Audience
Who is coming? As our event is free to attend, we don’t know who is coming or even how many! We’ve promoted it to the scientific/student community who know Sam, the local writing community who know me, the business community who know Pixalytics and those linked to the Athenaeum. It is potentially a varied cross section of an audience.

We decided to start the event with a bit about what remote sensing is, and how you can do it yourself. Sam will then use a lot of images to show the different things you can find out with remote sensing and we’ll end the first part of the evening with a discussion on what it was like to write a book together – the positive, the challenges and how close we came to divorce!

After that we’ll move to the lounge where there will be a small exhibition of remote sensing images, the book, refreshments and we’ll draw the raffle. Hopefully there will be something for everyone here.

This is the journey to our first book launch. However, there are still things we don’t know:

  • Will we remember to take everything?
  • Will the weather be horrible?
  • Are people interested in remote sensing?
  • Will anyone turn up?

We’ll tell you the answers next week!

Update After The Book Launch

To answer the questions we posed:

  • We remembered everything apart from the pineapple! (It was part of an audience participation event demonstrating the principles of remote sensing, too complicated to go into!)
  • The weather was not too bad.
  • Yes they are – given the amount of people who came up to us after the demonstration to ask questions and tell us how much they enjoyed the evening.
  • Yes! About 45 people were are the event which was great for us!

We had a great night and even managed to sell copies of the book! We found some interesting information about Plymouth Athenaeum and its links to the Royal Society, got some interest from local students and even had the local paper in attendance taking pictures!

All in all, it was very enjoyable, and tiring, evening!

 

Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing

Book ArrivalOur first book is out now!!! A dull and damp Saturday afternoon was spectacularly brightened by a deliveryman’s knock at the door, who handed over our first copies of the Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing – as you can see in the picture. It was the first time we’d got the finished paperback in our hands. Very exciting!

The book was written by us, Samantha Lavender and Andrew Lavender, and is published by CRC Press of the Taylor & Francis Group. It is a general how-to guide for anyone wanting to use remote sensing, guiding inexperienced individuals through the principles and science of remote sensing, and giving them the skills to undertake practical remote sensing at home with just a computer and free-to-access desktop software.

It’s a book Sam has wanted to write for many years: something which we hope opens up the exciting field we work in to new people. However she quickly realised that if she was writing an ‘idiots guide’, she needed an idiot – which she says is where I came in! Personally, I prefer the publisher description of me as a non-expert navigating the subject for the first time.

The first half of the book begins with the basic principles and history of remote sensing, next we have the science behind remote sensing and image processing and finally the first half is finished off with chapters on practical remote sensing and image processing with a variety of example exercises. The second half is focussed on applications of remote sensing within both land and marine environments, with details on the applications, scientific theory of the remote sensing techniques and associated practical exercises.

We aimed to make the book practical, readable and easy to understand. The principle we used was that if I couldn’t understand a section of the book, it had to be rewritten until I could understand it! We have also based it on open source software, using ESA’s Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP) and QGIS as our remote sensing and geographical information systems software. The default dataset we’ve used is Landsat; again as it is freely accessible, although a number of other datasets are also included.

We’d also like to start to build a community of ‘new’ remote sensors and so we launched a complementary website last weekend, www.playingwithrsdata.com – designed and written by the excellent i-Create Design and Square Apple. The website will keep the book users updated on any changes to software or data used in the book, provide additional exercises and a forum for people to ask questions and continue their learning.

We’re both very excited and proud about having our first book published, and we hope that people will enjoy reading it and working through the exercises to gain new skills. What’s that? You want to know where you can immediately get hold of a copy of the Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing. Well, clicking on this link will take you to our wonderful publishers who can make that happen!