Skymet Weather Services that provides weather forecast and solutions to Indians is now providing a wealth of satellite data to farmers, students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and companies. Through its digital platform ‘SkAlgeo,’ the Noida based private weather forecaster is providing free access to its 10-year geospatial proprietary farm-level data repository.
‘The plan is to make it available to the public and see what use cases can be developed. We tried to expose the data so that people who don’t have that much compute power or resources can build software on top of it, told Vivek Singh, Skymet’s Deputy CEO and CTO.
The datasets collected from satellite imagery every two weeks across India include the Greenness Index, the Standard Precipitation Index, crop health information, and soil moisture information, among other things. These terabytes of valuable data can provide fertile ground for entrepreneurs.
‘This data can be used across different verticals in different ways. It’s akin to ‘uberisation.’ Allow people to come to the platform, explore and find different use cases for it, and then cash it out on the market,’ Singh added. Skymet previously monetized this data.
Hemendra Mathur, an agri-tech investor, calls it an intriguing move. ‘When it comes to satellite imagery, a lot of work goes into creating, collating, authenticating, and validating datasets. That equates to nearly 70% of the work required to produce an application. This will aid in the development of additional apps. Once you have the foundational infrastructure in place, you can create a number of applications that can analyse data.’
According to Mr. Mathur, a large number of start-ups have used such datasets for their applications such as geo-tagging and crop health monitoring systems. SatSure, a decision analytics firm, recently launched Sparta, its innovation platform. ‘I am seeing an increasing number of start-ups engage in open innovation. It’s an intriguing precedent,’ Mathur said.
According to Skymet’s Vivek Singh, the SkAlgeo digital platform paves the way for farmers to increase crop yield and reduce crop risks. It will also benefit the banking and insurance industries. For example, the insurance industry may tailor policies or programmes based on crop risk assessments using various indices.
Various banks are now assessing farmers’ risk profiles using a digital lending solution built on the SkAlgeo platform. ‘Skymet employs remote sensing, geo-tagging/fencing, and the overlaying of cadastral maps over land records to aid in the identification of land and crops, crop acreage, and yield forecasting. This technology solutions is being used by SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and a few Maharashtra’s cooperative banks,’ said Skymet Founder and Managing Director (MD) Jatin Singh.