Sep 29 2015

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Color me jaded

Planet Labs Commits $60 million in Geospatial Imagery to Global Community. On the surface, this seems like a noble gesture.

Planet Labs today announced that $60 million worth of its satellite imagery would be made openly available and accessible to the global community. This is one of the largest philanthropic investments of geospatial imagery ever. It will be a valuable asset in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals), which were recently ratified during the 70th session of the United Nations. Planet Labs CEO and co-founder Will Marshall made the commitment at a gathering hosted by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) in conjunction with the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development.

“At Planet Labs we’re devoted to making our data open and accessible, particularly where it can help the global development agenda, improve human lives and protect biodiversity,” said Will Marshall, CEO and Co-Founder of Planet Labs. “Planet Labs is committed to making our satellite imagery available to efforts that support the newly announced Global Goals. Today, we are announcing an initial commitment of $60 million in imagery of select regions, to enable people to use this data to develop tools and capabilities that will extend across the globe.”

Planet Labs has estimated its imagery can be used to directly or indirectly advance 15 of 17 Global Goals, and to measure more than 70 of their associated targets by tracking daily environmental change, urban development and economic indicators on a global scale.

And I’m not saying its not a noble gesture, as I’m sure this give-away will be put to good use.

That said, the cranky, old, cynical guy behind at this keyboard observes

  • $60 million in assets is a lot of assets to just give away. Certainly there is a huge incentive tax-write-off-wise to Planet Labs for giving away all this imagery. And I’m not even saying that taking advantage of tax write-offs is a bad thing because it definitely is not…just wondering if Planet Labs is creating a PR event out of a standard tax strategy.
  • $60 million in assets is a lot of assets to just give away. Planet Labs is not a non-profit agency — if Planet Labs was making gobs of money off of this imagery, I suspect that they wouldn’t be giving it away. Which makes me wonder if this imagery is either
    1. Obsolete and they have better imagery incoming that can replace it, or
    2. Wasn’t generating enough revenue to keep.

    and donated it to a good cause like an old, but still serviceable, car or truck.

  • Sorry, anything involving the UN makes my spidey senses tingle, as there are few organizations on this Earth with less corruption — IMO, the UN is like a collection of criminal cartels. I wouldn’t give them a plug nickle, much less such a data drop. Just sayin’…

Geez…when did I turn into a cranky, old, somewhat paranoid curmudgeon?

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