As the world emerges from two years under the shadow of the COVID pandemic, there…
Each year, Planet’s data is used by state and local governments to track environmental change, support regional enforcement efforts, and make informed decisions. We were delighted to see new partnerships with local government entities starting in 2021, including the State of Alaska and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
Thanks to their 7-month pilot program, Planet and the State of Alaska explored solutions for department heads who have historically been challenged by Alaska’s unique geography, marked by severe winter storms and remote landscapes. Notably, 82% of Alaskan communities are inaccessible by roads, and it is time consuming and expensive to get boots in the field for assessments. Previously, employees took small planes to monitor about 50 weather stations across 90 million acres of land to determine when a station had become snow-free. Using daily PlanetScope imagery, their team was able to examine day-to-day satellite imagery to determine exactly when the station became snow-free, saving time, costs and energy, and to increase the accuracy of the data collected. By decreasing the number of air trips required to these remote areas, Planet’s data has also dramatically increased employee safety.
Thanks to our SkySats, the State of Alaska has also been able to support mining operations inspectors. With more frequent visibility, managers tracked mining activity on a monthly basis to schedule inspections and support regulatory enforcement. They also used PlanetScope and SkySat data to provide environmental situational awareness of forest fires and reveal end fire perimeters. Additionally, the state used Planet imagery of forest land to determine enforcement policies prior to on-site assessments. Using Planet’s datasets under a multi-department license, the State of Alaska ensures that this data is shared through the state’s imagery portal so that the imagery data can be used by various agencies. For example, satellite data collected for mining inspection analysis by the Department of Mineral Land and Water is also open and accessible to the State Department of Conservation, Fisheries and Game. By sharing this data between agencies, there is increased transparency of the project to support economic development and sustainability efforts.
At the other end of the continental United States, our satellite data also supports the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR). The Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to some of the most productive fish and shellfish waters in the country. In order to ensure the sustainable use of these wet ecosystems, the DMR strives to regulate and restore these habitats every year. Using PlanetScope imagery, DMR was able to perform due diligence to protect wetlands and enforce specific permitting programs.
Wetland habitats support a variety of submerged aquatic vegetation, including seagrass beds that are essential to the ecosystem. As part of their role, DMR provides permits to enable clients to mitigate and transport sections of vegetation for coastal development. In one case, a client reported that in their designated area, aquatic vegetation was no longer present and requested a permit amendment. It was essential that the DMR could ensure that the movement of this growing vegetation was a natural occurrence and not due to human interference, such as mechanical removal or obstruction of the lumen of a barge. Using PlanetScope’s high-speed imagery, the DMR team was able to go back day after day to the previous year to ensure that there was no man-made structure, barge, or interference with vegetation on the site. They concluded that the movement of species was indeed a natural phenomenon, and thanks to Planet’s high temporal resolution imagery, they were able to withstand the change in permit status with confidence. This case highlighted how day-to-day transparency has enabled DMR to increase local enforcement and exercise due diligence to keep wetlands safe.
As a new customer, the Mississippi DMR was able to see the immediate results of Planet’s product; and they are now exploring other uses for data. These explorations will identify point sources of wetland sedimentation, monitor seagrass movement and assess intertidal marsh health and water quality. By working with our high-speed images, the DMR will be able to better assess secondary and cumulative impacts during project implementation.
Each year, more and more state and local governments are using Planet data to support their regional planning processes, manage their local industries and protect their ecosystems. Our additional clients include the New Mexico State Land Office, the port of Long Beach, Humboldt County, California, City and County of San Francisco, Autoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales in Colombia, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and San Luis Obispo County, California.
Working with state and local governments aligns with our goals of supporting communities and protecting the environment. Earlier this year, Planet entered into a definitive merger agreement with dMY Technology Group, Inc. IV (NYSE: DMYQ), a special purpose acquisition company, to become a publicly traded company. By joining the public market, Planet will become a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), in which our mission will be encoded in our corporate DNA, obliging our directors to remain true to our mission as part of their fiduciary duty to their shareholders. . Planet’s public interest objective is: “To accelerate humanity towards a more sustainable, secure and prosperous world by illuminating environmental and social change.” “