Simple solutions

A couple of years ago I was asked to undertake some analysis of a river catchment to assess various ecosystem services. It was something that Sentinel-2 was perfect for, as I needed to rapidly and cheaply obtain a time series of imagery, classify the imagery into various different classes and then return some zonal statistics pertaining to the different classes. The data sourcing and analysis went smoothly, the report writing was light touch due to the requirement for a fast turn around and I submitted a piece of work that I (and the client) was happy with.

So what’s the point of this blog?

‘Small project goes as expected’ doesn’t seem like something worth writing about.

Well, the interesting thing about this piece of work was that although it delivered what was required, the item that generated the most discussion was a screen-grab of some of the imagery: specifically a false colour composite of the catchment. False colour composites (FCC) traditionally show vegetation in red, bare earth in a green/blue, and water in a black colour. There are various reasons for that linked to the interaction of display systems with the wavelengths of radiation being displayed, but the upshot is that almost every FCC creates a striking image of the site of interest. As an example, the FCC image below shows an upland area in mid-Wales around the Clywedog Reservoir, Hafren Forest and source of the River Severn: darker reds are forest, lighter reds are upland grass and moorland, black is water, and there are a couple of areas of bare ground (can you spot them?).

Sentinel-2 L1C from 2018-06-29
FCC Sentinel-2 image (courtesy of Sentinel Hub’s EO-browser)

The message that came back from my client, and ultimately from my client’s customers, was that this comparatively simple visualisation was of as much interest and utility as some of the more complex analysis. This is interesting, because generally in the EO sector we like to highlight the volumes of data or the complexity of the processing or the novel algorithms that have been used in a project, when in fact we could do with listening even more closely to the thoughts, feedback and requirements of those who will ultimately be using the information.

As with the image obtained for this post this post, my client is now using the visualisation services available through the EO-browser. I pointed them at that portal because it made no sense for me to charge them for creating something that they could easily do themselves, and I believe that businesses grow by being honest and adding value rather than chasing money at all times. At some point I am sure that the client will want to move beyond simple visualisations, and hopefully that will be when they utilise my services once more.


One thought on “Simple solutions

  1. Nicely done, Alistair. This point
    “…and I believe that businesses grow by being honest and adding value rather than chasing money at all times..” should be written in caps, and bold 😀

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