How To Use Satellite Imagery To Predict The Market

How To Use Satellite Imagery To Predict The Market

You can do some crazy stuff with satellite imagery. What kinds of crazy shit? Well, for one, a startup’s spying on the shadows of half-built skyscrapers in China and then selling the data to investors who want to predict what the real estate market. That’s crazy!

The startup is run by former Googler James Crawford, the guy who was once in charge or scanning millions of books and making them searchable. Crawford’s new company, Orbital Insights, offers a whole menu of services that take advantage of the, uhhh, insights offered by time-stamped satellite imagery, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Journal reports that Orbital Insights is not only monitoring construction sites in 30 Chinese cities but also watching farms to see what kinds of crop yields they might produce and analysing the parking lots of big box stores so that their competitors can try to guess their sales numbers. Apparently, hedge funds are willing to buy this kind of data in troves.

This is surely only the beginning. Now that Google is giving away satellite images for free, we should be expecting all kinds of crazy business models to pop up. And as cubesats become cheaper and more prevalent, we’ll certainly see some insane innovation in the arena of real-time satellite images. Then, all of your Enemy of the State-inspired nightmares will come true. [WSJ via BLDG BLOG]

Pictures: Getty / Google