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New EarthCache Add-in for ArcGIS Pro

In recent times, remote sensing has gained immense popularity as a means of monitoring our planet and its landscapes. Due to the increased frequency of natural disasters, it is the most critical time for us to monitor and predict these events to minimize the impact. 

An increasing number of industries are using satellite images to identify trends in data that will enable them to make more informed decisions. Examples of applications include urban planning, infrastructure management, disaster relief and humanitarian aid, agriculture and forestry, defense and communication and climate change monitoring to name a few.

Although there are other ways to accomplish remote sensing, satellite-based remote sensing has shown to be the most accurate, economical, and long-lasting. Currently, about 9,000 satellites are orbiting around the Earth, and it is projected to increase in the future.

The idea behind writing this piece came to me when I discovered an interesting plugin for ArcGIS Pro, created by SkyWatch. EarthCache Add-In. It seamlessly integrates with ArcGIS Pro bringing with it an extra functionality without leaving the application.

EarthCache, powered by SkyWatch, is the easiest way for ArcGIS users to access satellite imagery from the world’s leading data providers

The EarthCache Add-In

EarthCache is a platform that offers an interface for buying satellite data. Its objective is to democratize Earth observation data, making it available to commercial organizations, and linking customers to the best satellite providers in the world. Some useful points to know about the SkyWatch Add-In:

  • You can incorporate a variety of data sources and kinds into your ArcGIS processes.
  • Without ever leaving ArcGIS, you can access the extensive EarthCache archive or take fresh pictures.
  • You can get low-resolution, free images from reputable open sources.
  • You can reduce expenses with a pay-as-you-use and clear pricing is beneficial.
  • Take advantage of all of ArcGIS Pro’s features, such as comparison, analysis, and visualization of imagery.
  • You can publish straight to ArcGIS Online using your Esri Suite, or you can simply save your data where you need it for sharing and analysis.

Source: SkyWatch

  • You can task a satellite to collect data in a specific Area of Interest (AOI) or, if data has already been collected, the AOI can be purchased as archival data.
  • You can select from a variety of data outputs, including panchromatic, near-infrared, RGB+, NIR, SAR+, EVI, MSAVI2, NDVI, NDWI2, true color, false color urban, and false color infrared.
  • For enterprises who have certain data needs and a way to manage their data easily, they can access SkyWatch’s Enterprise product 

Use Cases

Improving flood forecasting with Earth observation data

It has been consistently demonstrated that using Earth observation data is feasible and effective in improving flood forecasting. Luca Brocca works as a researcher with the National Research Council (CNR), a division of the Italian government that is in charge of keeping an eye on and averting natural disasters related to water, such as floods, landslides, and droughts.

Source: SkyWatch. Lakes on the southern side of the Italian Alps are pictured in this early acquisition by the Sentinel-2A satellite (Copernicus/ESA). Processed using the high-resolution infrared channel of the satellite’s multispectral camera, the image shows healthy vegetation in red, such as the hills and mountains in the upper part of the image.

Monitoring forest fires with satellites

In the Republic of Congo, more than 36,000 hectares of forest were destroyed by fire between November 2015 and April 2016. Extraction of round wood from areas leased by private enterprises from the national government is the primary commercial activity in the area. These encompass a large portion of the country’s northern woodlands, including the Marantaceae forests that were impacted by the fires.

A consortium led by the Joint Research Centre used satellite data from both Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2, with each satellite’s sensor making up for the shortcomings of the other (cloud perturbations for Sentinel-2 and sensitivity to ground moisture for Sentinel-1) in order to identify the origin of the fires and aid in monitoring their spread.

About SkywWatch

The first members of the SkyWatch team got together in 2014 during the NASA Space Apps Challenge to work on a software project named SkyWatch, which would give astrophysicists access to data from NASA’s space observatories in almost real-time.

The team went on to win the worldwide Space Apps challenge, but the power of democratized access to Earth observation captivated their mind. With the goal of maximizing the potential of Earth observation data for end-user, commercial applications, SkyWatch introduced the first geospatial application programming interface (API) in history in 2016.


I would like to thank the Skywatch team, especially Paula Parejo, Kelly Winter, and Katrina Hawk, for taking time to talk to me about the EarthCache Add-In and answering my questions by sharing information that is useful for this article. Again, many thanks.


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