•  March 29, 2019

    Aerial Imagery Provider Comparison – Satellite and Airborne

    This article was originally published by Applied Geographics Inc. (AppGeo), a company acquired by The Sanborn Map Company Inc in September 2022.

    By 2023, the global aerial imagery market (satellite and airborne) is projected to be over a $5 Billion. Between satellite and airborne imagery (including drones), more industries are finding creative ways to utilize and create ROI from aerial data.

    What should you be looking for when it comes to imagery providers?

    Well, to start, you want to think about resolution. If you only need to make out buildings, parcels, and some minor road features, 72 cm accuracy could work just fine. Do you need to interpret more complicated features, like parking lot lines or fences? 30 or even 15 cm resolution could be needed. Typically, anything requiring less than half a meter resolution is collected using Airborne imagery as opposed to Satellite imagery.

    After resolution, one of the most important factors in selecting an imagery provider is positional accuracy. Expressed as RMSE (root-mean square error), horizontal accuracy is crucial for matching your data with existing projections. Without a high degree of positional accuracy (50> m RMSE for satellites, 15> m RMSE for airborne), data would not be as relevant.

    What are the advantages of satellite imagery providers?

    While not having the level of resolution or accuracy that airborne imagery provides, satellite imagery can be collected a far faster refresh rate than the traditional flyovers. The other major advantage of satellite imagery is cost. Being that there are limited man hours involved and that collection is automated, satellite data tends to cost less than flyover (airborne) data collections.

    Satellite imagery industry leaders:

    • Planet Labs
    • Maxar

    Likewise, what are the advantages of airborne photography providers?

    Even though Satellite imagery providers can patrol the earth at rocket speeds, there is still a lot to be desired over airborne imagery. Airborne imagery provides the absolute best image resolution (up to 3” resolution). Because airborne imagery has a much higher price point associated with it than satellite providers, resolution vs. cost is always weighed in determining if this is the correct collection option.

    Airborne photography industry leaders:

    • Hexagon
    • EagleView
    • Nearmap
    • Sanborn
    • Vexcel

    We’ve taken the time to compare some of the top companies in the imagery space

    At AppGeo, we are very excited to launch our very first Aerial Imagery Provider Comparison Guide (2019). This eBook will give you the lowdown on all the top imagery providers for both satellite imagery and airborne photography. You can get the eBook by clicking the button below.

    Get the definitive 2022 Imagery Comparison Guide here

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