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Using kdb+ with satellite imagery data at 3DEO

12 April 2018
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By Sarah Gibson

Last year Earth observation specialist 3DEO selected Kx technology to provide rapid analysis of data from satellites, aerial platforms and Unmanned Air Vehicles for multiple commercial markets. Their plan was to use Kx’s time-series database system kdb+ for the real-time capture, processing and visualization of vast quantities of imagery data.

When announcing the deal, 3DEO CEO Andrew MacPherson said: “Detailed, accurate and current 3D Earth observation imagery has the potential to transform a wide variety of industries. To do so requires an analytics platform capable of dealing with large volumes of data very quickly, and Kx technology is ideal for this purpose. Combine this with the support of [Kx parent] FD and we are making real progress towards building a significant presence in this developing, high value market.”

3DEO’s implementation of kdb+ for data analytics involves working with vast amounts of unstructured data from satellites. Kdb+ has been widely used for 20 years by the financial services industry for analyzing structured market data. As new industries, like manufacturing, telco and space research begin to use kdb+, they are increasingly using it to solve new kinds of problems with different types of data. At 3DEO, the data comes from multispectral satellite images, such as Landsat imagery, that take multiple ‘raster’ bands of a single area.

Kdb+ can import these bands and run extensive analytics on them, with many of these analytics using combinations of the near-infrared and infrared bands.  In addition kdb+ is being used to ingest and structure elevation data, which can come in many different formats. Some examples collected by 3DEO include remote sensing and sonar data. Integrating satellite images with the corresponding structured elevation data creates high-resolution 3D worlds.

By combining technologies from immersive 3D, data analytics and Earth observation, 3DEO have developed a new approach to the interaction with, and presentation of, diverse data sets. They believe 3D reveals more than can be seen from traditional perspectives, and that their solutions have widespread applications including satellite imagery, estate management, defence and disaster risk management.