How to Use Satellite Imagery to Predict Market Activity

By Adam Clark Estes on at

You can do some crazy shit with satellite imagery. What kinds of crazy shit? Well, for one, a startup is spying on the shadows of half-built skyscrapers in China and then selling the data to investors who want to predict how the property market will act.

The startup is run by former Googler James Crawford, the guy who was once in charge or scanning millions of books and making them searchable. Crawford's new company, Orbital Insights, offers a whole menu of services that take advantage of the, uhhh, insights offered by time-stamped satellite imagery, The Wall Street Journalreports.

The report says that Orbital Insights is not only monitoring construction sites in 30 Chinese cities but also watching farms to see what kinds of crop yields they might produce and analysing the car parks of big box stores so that their competitors can try to guess their sales numbers. Apparently, hedge funds are willing to buy this kind of data in troves.

How to Use Shadows of Half-Built Towers in China to Predict the Market

This is surely only the beginning. Now that Google is giving away satellite images for free, we should be expecting all kinds of crazy business models to pop up. Then, all of your Enemy of the State-inspired nightmares will come true. [WSJ via BLDG BLOG]

Images via Getty / Google