March 8, 2010 – Natural Resources Canada’s Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) is pleased to announce the release of the Government of Canada’s first suite of National Master Standing Offers (NMSOs) for Commercial Satellite Imagery (CSI).
This significant accomplishment, introducing a novel approach to the licensing of Earth Observation (EO) data, resulted from the cooperative efforts of Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Department of National Defence and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
Over 100 federal officials attended a CCRS workshop on March 1, 2010, to learn more about the advantages and use of the NMSOs. One key advantage is licensing that allows government-wide imagery sharing and reuse, as well as release of lower-resolution imagery to the public for non-commercial use. The EO sensors providing the imagery range from state-of-the-art 0.5 m resolution instruments launched in 2009 to coarser resolution (1 km) wide-swath instruments more suitable for synoptic studies. These sensors were selected following interdepartmental discussions.
The NMSOs are expected to reduce both the time required for CSI procurement and the incidence of multiple purchases of identical imagery. Multiple purchases have occurred in the past, at considerable public cost, because either licence restrictions precluded sharing across departments, or because there was no mechanism to make users aware that imagery of interest had already been secured by others in the federal family.
Fifteen NMSOs will now allow more efficient and cost-effective ordering of EO data, providing the advantages of pre-negotiated prices, common licensing, and ease of contracting. In addition to the base license allowing sharing across federal government departments and agencies, costing is available for optional licenses that will also allow sharing with other levels of government and government partners. In addition, all NMSO imagery will eventually be available to the public for non-commercial purposes at resolutions of greater than 20 meters.
Nine vendors from seven countries will benefit from the NMSOs, which facilitate access to their commercial imagery from a variety of optical and radar sensors, aboard many satellites including several constellations. The March 1st workshop included presentations from all nine vendors, whose representatives travelled from as far away as Israel and Italy to showcase their products.
The NMSOs will be in place for up to four years, with all NMSO-procured imagery being received electronically by CCRS. Responsible for managing these important government assets, CCRS will ensure onward pickup by the ordering department, and archive, catalogue and facilitate the availability of all NMSO-acquired imagery for future reuse and dissemination. The workshop also featured National Earth Observation Data Framework (NEODF), the federal system which will deliver, archive and catalogue imagery procured via the NMSOs. The NEODF already manages the federal government’s RADARSAT-1 and -2 imagery.
These innovative NMSO procurement vehicles, together with the NEODF support system for delivery, archiving and cataloguing, will make the use of remotely-sensed satellite imagery by the Government of Canada more efficient and cost-effective. This sets a new standard that will ultimately benefit all Canadians, not only by enabling increased release of satellite imagery to the public, but also by facilitating greater use of imagery in value-added tools and systems that support government operations and decision making.