Flexibility and efficient sourcing of small areas of interest is key to Orbital Eye providing an alternative to helicopter monitoring

April 28, 2022

Orbital Eye monitors critical infrastructure, such as oil and gas pipelines, for third-party interferences, such as construction work and excavations. Traditionally, oil and gas companies used helicopters to monitor their pipelines. 

Orbital Eye was founded with the vision that traditional aerial inspection methods based on helicopters could be replaced by satellite observation. Orbital Eye’s platform, CoSMiC-EYE, provides the capability to automatically process thousands of square kilometres of radar and optical satellite images on a daily basis, in order to map anomalies, events, or changes to assets and infrastructure.

For Orbital Eye, it was an easy decision to move towards a programmatic solution to access Earth Observation data. Prior to working with SkyWatch, Orbital Eye was acquiring the satellite data they needed via a search catalogue and ordering images by mail. This process was too labour-intensive, and the turnaround times on manual imagery acquisition were too long to effectively serve their customers, and they quickly recognized that they needed a more programmatic solution to access data.

Today, programmatic Earth observation data acquisition is a capability that operates autonomously within the Orbital Eye solution, and the machine-to-machine (M2M) infrastructure allows Orbital Eye to source images at scale, with little human supervision or interaction.

“Orbital Eye combines SAR data with high-resolution optical data,” says Sven van Haver, CEO at Orbital Eye. “It’s much more efficient than aerial monitoring via helicopter, but up until 2016, when we introduced our SAR-based services, that had been the status quo for the oil and gas industry. The tipping point for Orbital Eye happened when customers could actually see what was going on around their pipeline from behind their desk in a high-res image, instead of only receiving alerts based on radar data, and we integrated optical data into our solution in 2018.”

As a SkyWatch partner, Orbital Eye also uses the EarthCache API to build out custom solutions for their customers. With the proprietary custom infrastructure for quality assurance and service validation, Orbital Eye offers robust end-to-end monitoring solutions for oil and gas pipelines.

“Having machine-to-machine (M2M) capabilities to source high-res optical data, both from archive as well as direct tasking, is a prerequisite for the success of our solutions,” says van Haver. “In our business, the value of imagery decreases rapidly with the number of days since collection and it is exactly this time-to-delivery that the M2M integration with EarthCache minimizes, allowing us to bring maximum value to our customers.”

Data diversity is a key to success

SkyWatch’s data aggregation model works well for Orbital Eye, who measures the average time between initial event detection and delivery of a high-resolution satellite image as a KPI for their customers.

“If you are in frequent need of high-resolution satellite imagery, but do not know the exact location weeks in advance, then never trust a single satellite imagery provider to be your exclusive supplier,” says van Haver. “It’s better to invest in a data integrator like SkyWatch, and trust them to be your gateway into as many satellite providers as possible. More supply allows us to maximize the fulfillment of our data needs.”

About Orbital Eye

Orbital Eye provides monitoring and inspection services for oil and gas pipelines. The CoSMiC -EYE solution delivers cost-effective, highly accurate, and up-to-date information on what has changed, where, and when in your Area of Interest or Right of Way. Alerts are automatically uploaded and reported to inspectors, asset managers, or HSE officers, together with context information, offering maximum situational awareness. Orbital Eye’s Earth observation-based monitoring solutions are non-intrusive, intrinsically safe, and sustainable.

About SkyWatch EarthCache

SkyWatch provides the simplest way to get Earth observation data for software applications, via the EarthCache platform. EarthCache aggregates and normalizes data from a network of industry-leading data partners, so development teams don’t need to spend months integrating disparate systems. All data available through EarthCache is sent pre-processed and clipped to custom specifications for faster ingestion.

The powerful and easy-to-use EarthCache API allows developers to programmatically search and request Earth observation data, monitor areas of interest, and minimize the time-to-delivery of new data.

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