GEOCENTO: A look back at our first 10 years
CEO of Geocento
On 1 December 2021, we celebrated Geocento’s tenth birthday with many of our customers, partners and friends. As we approach Christmas, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on our journey before we start another year and our second decade!
When Thomas Lefort, Felipe Martin Crespo and I founded Geocento in 2011, we were driven by a frustration at how difficult it was, even as an industry insider, to access imagery. At that time, we took the view that there was a lot that technology could do to deal with this problem and so we built a platform to aggregate and deliver imagery from a wide range of suppliers, and we called this EarthImages.
Along with the aggregation, we provided a number of supporting tools such as an embedded model of the satellite imaging constellation from sister company Taitus Software and collaboration tools and, more recently, hosted processing, image alerts for customer hotspots and integration with CRM and invoicing. All these tools were designed to make the image ordering process as efficient as possible both for the customer and for Geocento, and in this sense, the EarthImages platform has been very successful, with regular requests for deployment of customised versions of the platform by organisations in the space sector. Our goal, however, was to make it easier for markets to access imagery and to do this directly, we needed to be offering imagery ourselves.
Photo (from left to right): Kim Partington, Thomas Lefort, Felipe Martin Crespo – founders of Geocento
In late 2015 and 2016, we established a network of agreements with suppliers that enabled us to use our own EarthImages platform to license imagery to customers. Interfacing to image markets directly was a formative experience, through which we learnt that aggregation is not enough, despite achieving image sales to clients in 59 countries across multiple market sectors. Diverse image offerings from suppliers are complex for the market to understand and for an aggregator to maintain, so that margins are pressured from both the customer side (with customers requiring support, even with an efficient aggregation platform because the product complexity remains) and supplier side (with large overheads for maintenance of the various licenses, pricing models, ordering options, etc).
We could, as in the case with some organisations, focus on providing a very few, select, data sources and maintain simplicity this way, but a key feature of the satellite imaging market is that many users, particularly larger ones, depend on the diversity of image sources in order to meet their operational needs. As a result, our goal remains the ambitious one of providing easy access to the global imaging constellation.
Figure: The first prototype of EarthImages platform
NOTE: the first prototype of EarthImages platform was designed in 2012. Currently, it provides access to off-the-shelf imagery from more than 230 sensors along with advanced functionality for geospatial professionals, and all-in-on procurement solution for enterprises. Learn more >>
The latest stage of our journey is therefore to focus on consolidation. This can be defined as ”the action or process of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent whole”. Pricing can be standardised in some way across categories of imagery, multi-supplier ordering protocols can be established, and there are circumstances under which licensing can be consolidated across suppliers too. If this is combined with a single operational interface for different sources of imagery (as provided already by EarthImages), then this will significantly lower market barriers, is conducive to scalability and can underpin a more dynamic market for imagery which would benefit the whole ecosystem.
This is therefore what we are looking towards in 2022 and we would love to engage with you as we continue this journey. In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, along with my colleagues!
Figure: Geocento's sales geography across market sectors