Bird’s Eye View

Privacy is over.

Source: Pixabay. CC0

That’s what I thought when I read about Orbital Insight. They’re a software company that analyzes images from satellites that tell us something, anything about the world we live in – how much oil is in storage tanks in China, how many cars are parked in Walmart parking lots, or what’s the health of the crops planted in North Dakota. By using public and private imagery and sophisticated AI software, the company can evaluate what’s happening on the ground by looking at images from above.

Orbital’s services used to be available only to wealthy hedge funds and other wealthy clients, using custom coding and specialized services. But now they’ve created Orbital Go, a menu-driven site that makes their analysis available to anyone. For example, if you want to open a new Subway franchise, you could analyze the foot traffic near a local University around meal-times to determine the best location. In the past, you might have had to use your gut-instincts, but now you can make your decision – one critical to your success – on the basis of hard data.

Source: NASA

This means that more information is available about more subjects more quickly and with less lag-time than ever before. Housing construction can be monitored nationwide in almost real-time, looking at site-prep, foundations, material delivery, and construction times. All this is available by looking at satellite images. Highway congestion can be evaluated in places where it’s never been seen before. The world is becoming increasingly transparent.

Like every new technology, promise and peril have to be balanced. More accurate mathematical models of how the world works must be weighed against the potential for satellite-based stalking. But ever since satellite images became available to the public, the potential for use and abuse became real. Unless we move underground, our locations and activities are visible from space. That may seem creepy, but it’s just part of the world we live in.

Technology doesn’t move backwards. We have to learn what it means to live in a transparent world.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Charter Trust Company

“The Best Trust Company in New England”

By |2019-05-16T06:00:23-04:00May 16th, 2019|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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