Satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe has made a request for the US government to lift restrictions on the pixel resolution of available commercial satellite imagery to better compete against non-US-based companies.
DigitalGlobe argues that the quality of commercial aerial photography — like images available on Google and Bing map websites — is in more than 90 countries at 5-centimeters resolution. These images are taken from an aircraft, not a satellite.
The petition was made to the Commerce Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to lift restrictions that limit the quality of commercially available satellite images to 0.5 meter resolution.
Without the waiver, US government agencies and strategic partners will be the only customers allowed access to the highest resolution images.
The request was made on May 14, 2013 but has yet to receive a ruling. Astrium has also requested a lift to the French government. Astrium’s Pleiades 1A/1B satellite, offers satellite imagery at 0.5 meter resolution.
Other satellite sensors at 0.5m resolution includes DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2, WorldView-1, GeoEye-1 and the new and upcoming launch during 2014 of WorldView-3 will provide a resolution of 0.31 meters.
By allowing higher resolution satellite imagery to commercial customers will help the US maintain a technological edge over foreign companies.