UrtheCast & DeforestACTION Team to Fight Illegal Logging of an Endangered Rainforest

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Battling illegal rainforest deforestation demands an unconventional and creative strategy.

To monitor the forests of Indonesia, Geodan's DeforestACTION project has partnered with UrtheCast, the Canadian company that's developing, launching, and operating high-definition (HD) Earth video from the International Space Station (ISS). Access to UrtheCast's HD video data will be vital for the performance of DeforestACTION's Earthwatchers application — an initiative that aims to revolutionize the fight against deforestation by leveraging a global network of more than one million activists.

UrtheCast and Geodan, a provider of geo-information solutions, will monitor the illegal logging of old-growth forests in Borneo, Indonesia, by way of DeforestACTION. To further its objective of global stewardship, UrtheCast will provide DeforestACTION with near-to-real-time imagery from cameras secured to the bottom of the ISS, and will make all attempts at providing preferential data capture of this volatile region. UrtheCast's rich geospatial data will be incorporated into Earthwatchers – the monitoring application that will be used by millions of young activists world-wide, via smartphones.

In late 2012, UrtheCast will begin operating its two cameras on the ISS; the imagery from which will be downlinked from space and streamed to the internet by way of an interactive platform. Crucial location-specific video data will be provided to various organizations, including environmental monitoring services such as DeforestACTION’s Earthwatchers.

“Applications like EarthWatchers are the perfect use for the kind of imagery that will come from our cameras”, says Scott Larson, President of UrtheCast. “We hope that the success of the DeforestACTION project will show other environmental organizations how influential our geospatial data can be.”

The Earthwatchers application will provide young activists with up-to-date satellite imagery, which will soon include HD video from the UrtheCast cameras. Requiring extensive data, the Earthwatchers application must consistently access terabytes of geo-information. Geodan develops the high-performance tools used to access and report on this data – HD imagery that will be used to monitor Borneo’s old-growth forests and the victimization of its endangered orangutang population.

Dr. Eduardo Dias, Director of Geodan for Southeast Asia, is enthused at the prospect of harnessing imagery from UrtheCast’s cameras, explaining that the UrtheCast cameras will “... make a world of difference in the near-real-time intelligence field, as they will for the DeforestACTION project. Activists and students all over the world will be able to 'see' the forest processes and changes unfolding in real-time, and illegal activities will be reported and stopped on the ground.”

UrtheCast operates under a singular vision: to provide high-resolution video data for internet users, app developers, educators, media outlets, government bodies, humanitarian relief organizations, and environmental monitoring applications like Earthwatchers. The two UrtheCast cameras — one medium and one high-resolution — will be installed by astronauts aboard the ISS in late 2012. Once mounted, the cameras will stream near-live video and static imagery to Earth, and will provide extraordinary opportunities to view Earth in high-definition; thus allowing organizations like DeforestACTION the opportunity to employ high-resolution video footage of Earth.

Beyond environmental monitoring, UrtheCast image data will be offered by means of a consumer-centric website created by UrtheCast, a subsidiary of Earth Video Camera Inc. The platform will be open-source, allowing users to create applications for sale on the UrtheCast website. As the Space Station passes over a particular geographic location, video data and imagery will be collected of that area, thereby providing the opportunity for awareness of current events across the globe.
The beta version of UrtheCast’s interactive platform will be made available this summer, 2012. To become a beta subscriber, please visit urthecast.com.

About UrtheCast
UrtheCast (pronounced “EarthCast”) is a company created around a unique vision: to provide the world’s first live HD video feed of Earth from space. Working with international partners — and in partnership with renown Russian Aerospace giant RSC Energia — UrtheCast is building, launching, installing, and operating two cameras on the Russian module of the International Space Station. Video data of Earth collected by the cameras will be down-linked to ground stations across the planet and displayed in near-realtime on the UrtheCast web platform, or distributed to exclusive partners and customers.

About Geodan
Geodan is a geo-information solutions provider. They specialize in IT solutions for both the private and public sectors, which can be used to ensure the adequate management and availability of geo-information. DeforestACTION is a world-wide project involving millions of young people around the world saving the world’s forests. The DeforestACTION 'agents' will monitor the forest and report to the world using a WebGIS environment (Earthwatchers application developed by Geodan) and up-to-date satellite images. The project will also replant a forest on currently degraded land.

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Erika Racicot
Business Instincts Group
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