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Jakarta Post

Indonesia opens satellite image data to public

  • Ivany Atina Arbi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, February 13, 2019   /   01:02 pm
Indonesia opens satellite image data to public A satellite image shows Typhoon Trami off the Japanese south coast in the Philippine Sea on Sept. 27, 2018. (NOAA/RAMMB /AFP/Agustin Paullier)

North Nias Marine and Fisheries Agency head Sabar Jaya Telaumbanua in North Sumatra province could not hide his excitement when witnessing local fishermen in the regency return with a big catch --much bigger than usual.

In a short video shown during a national coordination meeting held by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) recently, the agency head revealed that LAPAN’s satellite image data had played a significant role in the big harvest.

“We thank LAPAN for providing us with the data as it helps us in identifying which areas contain large number of fish. It saves our time and [operational] money,” Sabar said.

LAPAN, which acquires imagery from remote sensing satellites such as the German Terrasar-X and French SPOT for research and operational applications, allows the public to now access data freely through a mobile app called Sipandora.

The apps, which have been available in the Google Play app store since late last year, was officially launched to the public on Wednesday during the national coordination meeting.

LAPAN’s remote sensing division deputy head, Orbita Roswintiarti, said the initiative to develop the apps came after the issuance of Government Regulation PP No. 11/2018, mandating the institution to disseminate satellite image data to the public “to support  national development.”

Article 48 of the regulation stipulates that data could be used by government agencies, regional administrations and society.

Orbita further revealed that the Sipandora mobile apps offered a wide range of information related to natural resources, the environment, disasters and others. Agencies or institutions that can take advantage of the data include the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Public Works and Housing Ministry, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency and the National Land Agency.

“The National Police can even use our data to look for cannabis fields and the tax agency uses it to map out objects subject to taxes,” Orbita said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Upon trying the mobile app, The Jakarta Post found two main features in it, namely a natural resource monitoring system (SIPANDA) and disaster mitigation information system (SIMBA). 

On SIPANDA, users can monitor various natural resource potential both on land and in waters, such as paddy fields, mining areas as well as fish and coral reef distribution areas, while on SIMBA, there are options for “disaster early warning”, which includes information about hot spots and daily flood potential, as well as “disaster impact”, in which users can monitor the whereabouts of affected areas when a disaster strikes.

For instance, when users click the “Lombok earthquake” menu on the app, they will find the damaged areas are located on the western part of the island, in Mataram city, and the Northeast part of the island near Gili Lawang and Gili Sulat islands.

An official from Lebong regency in Bengkulu province, Edi Ramlan, acknowleged that the newly launched mobile apps would ease the work of various agencies in the Lebong administration as the data was only one click away.

Previously, to obtain satellite imagery of just one district, the administration had to pay up to Rp 400 million (US$28,521) to third parties, usually consultants.

“Imagine if one regency has seven to eight districts, they would incur high costs to get data. Now all of the information is in your hands, and free,” Edi said.