Event Summary

On July 21, 2016 the Silicon Valley Space Business Roundtable (SVSBR) and the Secure Word Foundation (SWF) co-hosted a panel discussion and networking event entitled What’s in a Name? Interaction and Evolution in the Geospatial, Space, and Earth Observation Communities. The event was held at the Satellite co-working space in Sunnyvale, California.

The five panelists and the audience discussed several themes related to the convergence between the the geospatial, space, and remote sensing communities. Topics discussed included the relationship of government capabilities to private sector capabilities, the increasing role of small satellites and agile aerospace principles, the rapid rate of change in data collection and analysis capabilities, the role of standards as means to address interoperability challenges, and the emergence of multiple use cases that rely upon multiple sources and types of remotely sensed data. The five panelists included a cross-section of data providers, users, and support services:


  • Kevin O’Connell, CEO of Innovative Analytics and Training – a Washington-DC based consulting firm provided an overview of the history of the geospatial industry and the U.S. government’s role in regulating it. He highlighted the importance of remote sensing licensing, and discussed the current challenges that the government faces in implementing the licensing system in an efficient and technology-appropriate fashion.
  • Joe Mascaro, Program Manager for Impact Initiatives at Planet, a San Francisco based satellite remote sensing company, discussed the firm’s agile aerospace philosophy in driving rapid technology change and innovation in both satellite remote sensing hardware and software platforms.
  • Jessica “JB” Young, Co-Chair of U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Small Satellite Working Group highlighted the growing role of small satellite operators as contributors to the geospatial intelligence community (“GEOINT”), and discussed ways that the smallsat operator community can interface with the GEOINT policy community.
  • Scott Simmons, Executive Director, Standards Program, for the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) discussed the role of standards within the geospatial industry, and highlighted the challenges standards organizations face in keeping pace with the rapid rate of change in the industry.
  • Phil McGillivary, the Science Liaison for the U.S. Coast Guard PACAREA, presented the user agency perspective, highlighting several use cases for geospatial information including: icepack monitoring & icebreaker operations, coral reef bleaching monitoring, illegal fishing tracking, and wildlife tracking.