Let’s (not) get physical: How satellite AI can improve human work speeds

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As technology evolves to support a wide range of tasks, companies increasingly rely on automation to help improve overall efficiency and performance. Satellite analytics, in particular, is growing rapidly in popularity and is helping businesses in a variety of industries, including utilities, energy, mining, transportation, construction, and more. In fact, Snaplogic released a report stating that 81% of employees say AI improves their job performance. Satellites can travel around the earth at speeds of up to 17,000 miles per hour, capturing high-resolution images to provide companies with access to historical data, enhancing security and cost-effective insights.

Many satellites have been coming since the first satellite was launched in 1957. The latest satellites provide high-resolution images that enable a more detailed assessment of ground assets and, therefore, smaller objects. The AI ​​component helps to upgrade images to a higher resolution and is on the same path as high-definition TV. Moreover, this allows older images with weaker resolution to be used with newer data, known as process time sequences. Today, satellites are acquiring more multispectral, infrared and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images that allow AI to define specific plant species and evaluate data at night or through clouds.

Businesses rely on more traditional methods for fulfilling obligations, but satellite AI-powered assets can eliminate manual labor in a fraction of the cost of inspection and maintenance. They are designed to perform difficult and time consuming tasks to help companies survive not only time but potentially high risk work environments.

Drones can also be used to accomplish such tasks if they are equipped with high-tech cameras and software to overcome the limitations of visibility during the day or night. However, satellites still prove to be more reliable, as drones cannot withstand certain weather conditions. Speed ​​is also a factor to consider. While drones can travel between 45-75 mph, they do not compare to the orbital speed of satellites.

Artificial intelligence delivers information faster and at a higher level than humans. Consider Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite to orbit the planet in 96 minutes. Satellite AI can quickly capture large areas of land, in some cases once every hour, and provide detailed insights and predictions based on images – which humans cannot immediately do. To put it in perspective, the manual crew of utility companies can carry out detailed inspections of about 10 miles per day, and drones can observe up to 5 miles per day. Satellites, however, can complete more than 10,000 miles of observations a day – fast and easy, right?

With more efficient observations through satellite image, data analysis (artificial intelligence) and planning (AI-driven optimization planning), companies save more money and time. Getting access to historical and real-time data on specific assets in a matter of minutes supports the company’s future and timely decisions. In contrast, the ability to retrieve data from a manual inspection for similar assets can take weeks or even months. The price is also relatively cheap compared to other sources. Between inspecting workplaces and analyzing key findings, the cost of manual labor wages and the hourly fees of contractors and field crews can be added. Satellite-based analytics can help these workers increase productivity, reduce the time spent on these tasks and allow them to focus on other, higher-valued parts of the job.

The work environment can be dangerous for manual inspection, but satellites help increase safety. According to Esurance, the risk of a car crash is one in 366 for every 1,000 miles traveled. Just considering that statistic, it’s not safe to send a crew to inspect a mile line or other distributed property. Many places like mountains, swamps, backyards etc. are also not easily accessible. In satellite surveillance the probability of injury to the employee is significantly reduced, with no probability of any kind of injury.

Major industries in the U.S. alone have more than one billion geographically distributed assets, and operating and maintenance costs on electric utilities continue to rise. Without the right resources, companies continue to lose money every year from liabilities related to forest fires, unpredictable power outages and more.

Satellite AI not only benefits a specific industry but there are many that you may be surprised to learn about:

Utilities: Vegetation management is often the biggest line item in the annual operating budgets of many large utilities, exceeding 100 million. It has also been one of the biggest and most complex challenges for the industry. Satellites help automate their manual tasks, allowing employees to become more targeted and productive with limited time.

Energy: Automation is a growing trend in the energy sector and satellite technology benefits day-to-day operations such as life-cycle planning, costing, maintenance and asset management. For example, leaking methane gas from oil well pads can track various metrics such as soil durability.

Transportation: Due to the vast spatial distribution of roads and railroad infrastructure, many transportation assets are open and vulnerable to natural hazards. This inevitably increases costs for transportation agencies and operations. The power of satellites helps operators to predict vegetation-related hazards along distributed lines and reduce the risks in the event of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

Water and wastewater: Water treatment, distribution and supply networks stretch for thousands of miles and can make it difficult for workers to navigate the area. Satellite AI eliminates the problem by effectively monitoring and managing its critical supply chain.

Mining: The mining industry is more responsive to unpredictable situations than to be prepared ahead of time. Providing predictive maintenance strategies through satellite AI and automated mobile fleet monitoring helps companies become more proactive.

Construction: The construction industry is extremely dangerous and is used exclusively by manual labor but now technology enhances the safety of crew members by managing a fleet of heavy equipment more efficiently and optimizing the overall operation.

How to put AI to work

In any industry, there are many ways to incorporate AI-based solutions effectively and efficiently. Companies should consider re-evaluating tasks and implement AI in their day-to-day workflow. New roles and responsibilities can be created to complement team members, especially for AI, allowing them to oversee initiatives and focus more on other things that do not require technological support.

In addition, 49% of employees feel that AI has improved their decision-making ability and accelerated time-to-insight. AI can be used to analyze problems at a higher level and to identify the best areas your team should address. Employees can then view AI results and share real-time feedback with technology for continuous improvement. We will continue to see artificial intelligence integrated into a variety of industries, but keep in mind that when it comes to heavy lifting, it will only be strengthened by human intelligence and skill. The combination of AI and humans is a powerful pair and will help take the workflow to the next level.

Abhishek Singh is the co-founder and CEO of AiDash.

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