Remote Sensing Operational Capabilities: Final Report

by David R. Frelinger, Mark Gabriele

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Earth-observing satellite remote sensing systems can be powerful tools for observing economic and military activities and scientific phenomena. What are the issues associated with sharing data obtained via these systems? What new classes of activities will become possible with deployment of high-resolution electro-optical and radar satellites over the next few years? This report presents the results of four modeling studies: an assessment of flood monitoring in Bangladesh; an evaluation of disaster assessment in Kobe and Mexico City; an evaluation of humanitarian operation in Burundi; and an evaluation of natural resource management. It finds that the ultimate value of these systems to the United States depends on their ability to support rapid revisits; flexibility and speed in tasking; good resolution; and compatible data formats. The authors suggest that fostering the use of emerging commercial standards, establishing mechanisms for rapid access to commercial remote sensing data and assuring payment to vendors, and addressing technology control issues and the management of intellectual property rights are some of the activities that might be undertaken by the United States government--either alone or in cooperation with other nations or with industry--to increase the utility of the new satellite systems.

This research was sponsored by RAND's Science and Technology Policy Institute.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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