Telus makes satellite data available to industry

Iunctus Geomatics Corp. of Lethbridge, Alta., and the Telus Geomatics unit of Vancouver-based Telus Corp. have announced a deal whereby Telus will market satellite images.

The images include those that Iunctus holds Canadian

distribution rights to under a deal with France’s space agency, the Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales.

Telus will sell satellite images of Canada and products and services derived from them, and the two companies will share revenues. Dale Berstad, chief executive of four-year-old Iunctus Geomatics, said his company will continue pursuing new customers but will involve Telus in all future sales.

Three French satellites — SPOT 2, SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 — take the images, which have a resolution as high as 2.5 metres and can be three-dimensional thanks to forward- and backward-facing cameras on the satellites. Berstad said the satellites’ cameras can be adjusted to photograph desired areas, and his company will aim to image the entire country a minimum of once a year, photographing some areas more frequently depending on customer needs.

Jim Huff, general manager of Telus Geomatics, said the deal makes sense given Telus’ existing nationwide marketing presence and geomatics business, and gives his company a chance to bundle the satellite imagery with other geomatics services it already offers to its customers.

For instance, Telus has already loaded SPOT satellite images of the western sedimentary basin — the area rich in oil and gas deposits in the four Western provinces — onto computers in its data centres, so customers can have immediate access to that data rather than having to order it and receive it on CD-ROM disks as they would have before. The company plans to put images of the entire country online soon, he said. “”The model we’re presenting here is the first of its kind.””

There are several key markets for the data. The oil and gas industry is a major one. For instance, Berstad said, pipeline operators can use the images to examine land they are buying for pipeline routes, determining the location of features like wetlands, rivers and streams that affect costs and liability for pipelines.

Forestry is another significant market. Berstad said infrared photography from the satellites can be processed to detect early signs of pine beetle outbreaks that are a problem in Western Canadian forests. “”We’re able to write a program that says this is where there’s an early outbreak of pine beetle,”” he said. Forestry crews can then move in and cut the infested trees before the problem spreads. Berstad said the process has proven 95 to 97 per cent accurate.

Telus and Iunctus are also planning to take several images of agricultural land in the west each growing season to obtain data about crop-growth patterns, Huff said. One use for such data, Berstad explained, will be in assessing losses in the event of hailstorms and other such events.

Iunctus, which has exclusive rights to market the SPOT satellite data to the private and public sector in Canada, is installing a satellite receiver in Lethbridge to receive data from the satellites, Berstad said.

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Grant Buckler
Grant Buckler
Freelance journalist specializing in information technology, telecommunications, energy & clean tech. Theatre-lover & trainee hobby farmer.

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