Soar.Earth Creates “Wikipedia of Maps” Open to the World

Agencies
·3-min read

An ever-changing super-map of the globe, Soar.Earth's online interactive atlas is freely accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Also Read | Google Maps Gets ‘Pay for Street Parking’ & ‘Transit Fares’ Feature

Sharp enough to show the individual bricks in the Great Wall of China, Soar.Earth's wealth of imagery and geospatial data goes far above and beyond that of Google Earth. The community-driven digital atlas features more than 23 billion square kilometres of satellite imagery and maps from a wide range of sources – enough to cover the globe 45 times over.

While Google Earth's static maps are rarely updated, Soar.Earth regularly adds new content to offer a fresh view of the world, says CEO and founder Amir Farhand.

Also Read | Wrong Depiction of Indian Map on WHO Website: Global Health Regulator Says Disclaimer on Portal Clarifies 'Presentation Does Not Imply Its Opinion on Territory's Legal Status'

"Our free satellite feeds make it possible to view changes on the Earth’s surface every day," Farhand says. "There are a wealth of applications, from exploring for mineral deposits to tracking bushfire smoke trails and drought-stricken crops."

"Whether it's satellite imagery, hobbyist drone photos, orthomosaics or environmental remote sensing data, all that information can be shared on Soar.Earth for anyone to see."

Access to NASA's Landsat-8 and the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 satellites offers Soar.Earth users free access to 30-metre and 10-metre resolution images anywhere on Earth.

Beyond this, users can purchase fresh 50-centimetre ultra-high resolution SkyMap50 images – updated the next time the satellite passes over their desired location. The images are 20-times sharper than those from Sentinel-2.

"Think of it as ‘click and collect’ for pixels from space," Farhand says. "You simply draw a box on a map to show the imagery you need, enter your payment details, and the system does the rest. It’s like ordering online from Amazon."

Soar.Earth began life in outback Western Australia, when Farhand’s geospatial technology company Takor Group Ltd began gathering satellite imagery for iron ore exploration.

By 2018, demand for satellite imagery was so strong that Farhand spun off Soar.Earth into its own company. Private funding was led by Australian-based Lateral Capital Ventures and Peregrine Corporate, as well as family offices in San Francisco and South East Asia, in an AU$4.5 million raise.

"Commercial satellite imagery was once exclusively available to those few corporations with deep pockets," Farhand says. "Images typically came with a single use-only license so, even though you'd paid for it, you didn't actually own it. It was kind of like renting it."

"Soar.Earth is looking to disrupt the industry to make high-resolution satellite imagery affordable and readily available to anyone – along with our corporate users, it’s a major win for schools, universities, not-for-profits and curious individuals."

Whilst the platform is geared towards the general population, it has caught the attention of the private, education and government sectors. Customers range from MRC Mining, World Bank, and Shell Energy, to Ohio State and James Madison University, which use Soar.Earth to assist geospatial science research.

Featured: Aerial photograph of the Capitol Building in Washington DC from 1951, which has been re-colourised using artificial intelligence and uploaded to Soar.Earth by Professor Zachary Bortolot from James Madison University. Click here to view inside Soar.Earth.

"Soar.Earth is democratising access to a wealth of mapping and geospatial data which can be a real gamer changer in so many areas," Farhand says.

"Once you open up this kind of satellite imagery to the world, the sky really is the limit."