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January 4th, 2008
Cheap Data is the Only Way

Ryerson used a keynote presentation to the Asian Conference on Remote Sensing to attack policies of price recovery.

He says attempts to force users to pay the price of building and launching satellites has slowed the development of the industry. It has resulted in less data being used, which reduces the overall benefit to the national economy of using the technology.

He criticised the Canadian government’s policies on the Radarsat program, which, he said, resulted in high prices and low data usage around the world. He said a preoccupation with recovering the billion dollar cost of the program directly from users had reduced the potential benefits to the Canadian economy.

He also urged the administrators of remote sensing programs to avoid the capture of their programs by scientists. He said excellent R&D would not necessarily result in widespread use of the data. Users of data need to be involved in the design of the system.

Successful programs should also involve commercial systems integrators. Government policies must foster this relationship.

Ryerson made his remarks after spending time on a consultancy for the Thai government. The government’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency has recently completed its policy on data distribution for the forthcoming Thai Earth Observing System.

The first satellite, Theos-1, is due for launch in 2008.

He says the Thais have agreed to supply data free. Users will, however, have to meet the cost of distribution.

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