Following the landmark Space Bridge announcement between the UK and Australia, The Australian - United Kingdom Chamber hosted a #Spaceconomy event with the UK Space Agency, Australian Space Agency, The Government of South Australia and Informed Solutions as hosts. Here, Seth Finegan, UK CEO at Informed Solutions raises the issues of convergence and collaboration as keys for the successful development of a new space economy.
It is just three days since the landmark announcement of the world’s first space bridge between Australia and the United Kingdom. Informed Solutions has offices in both countries and we are excited to see the two countries strengthen their industry ties and lay the foundations for future space-related trade opportunities.
Informed Solutions has been specialising in delivering innovation through its expertise in digital platforms and location technology for over 25 years now. Through our work in energy, telecommunications and government, we have seen how revolutions in digital mapping, cloud computing, mobile devices and artificial intelligence have transformed how we live, how we work and how we use information – particularly location data.
It’s hard to believe that it was only a little over 15 years ago that our teams were experimenting with putting digital mapping on prototype 3G devices.
Believe me, it was quite a struggle to deliver workable navigation applications such as ‘find my nearest’ and ‘get me to work’ on screens no more than one inch across and with a battery life of no more than a few hours. Yet within two years, with the advent of smart phones, we reached a tipping point that would mainstream the use of geospatial data and location technology faster than any of us had predicted.
Now we take such mobile capability for granted and our world cannot work without it.
Meeting with the UK and Australian Space Agencies yesterday, it is clear that we are on the verge of a similar transformational tipping point in the use of space technology and earth observation data.
The latest Size and Health Survey by London Economics suggests that the UK space sector already underpins £300bn or 15% of activity in other sectors across the UK economy.
Convergence and Cost
With the reduction in investment required to take advantage of such capability and the mainstreaming of complementary technologies such as IoT, Drones and AI we can only see exponential growth of this number in the years to come.
Yet it is the convergence with other advances such as digital platforms and applications that is needed to unlock this value – by this I mean the development of integrated knowledge systems that can take earth observation and geospatial data in combination with business and personal data to create easily accessible pools of information from which digital innovation can flourish.
It is digital innovation that will facilitate the combined use of these data sources to drive the emergence of exciting new applications – from optimising agricultural production, to better managing land use change, to identifying mineral resources and, above all, to better understand and help tackle the impacts of climate change.
This convergence of more affordable space capability and advances in digital platforms and applications should act as a flashing neon signpost that attracts governments and entrepreneurs alike to support the efforts of the space industry and to help shape its growth.
We have recently done work to identify what Informed Solutions Purpose should be – what we stand for. We want to create economic and social value by helping to build a more inclusive, fair and safe society through ethical use of technology and data, and investing in digital skills. We believe this purpose sits very well with our collective space efforts.
It is heartening to hear Karl Rodriguez, Executive Director National and International Engagement at the Australian Space Agency and Dr Alice Bunn, International Director at the UK Space Agency highlighting the advances being made in research and development, communications and application development - all with the aim of improving the lives of everyone.
Renowned American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist and astrobiologist Carl Sagen said: ‘science is a collaborative enterprise’. Convergence of technology is nothing without collaboration.
No single person, organisation or nation can realise the space opportunity alone. Success will lie in our ability to share ideas, challenge and encourage one another and to pool resources. We cannot innovate unless we collaborate.