Satellite data is set to play a bigger role in government services with the start of the first 14 projects funded under the UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government programme (SSGP).

From flood management to air quality monitoring, and breast cancer screening to shale gas impact monitoring, the projects - costing a total of £700,000 - will explore new ways for central and local government to embed space services - such as earth observation (EO) and satellite navigation - into everyday operational activities.

Government says that using satellite data will help departments and councils be more innovative and efficient. Image © ESA/DLR

The government says this will enable departments to save money, increase innovation and deliver more efficient public services.

The government and the UK space industry is aiming to grow the space sector into a £40 billion turnover per year market by 2030. The use of space in the governmental sector is part of this growth strategy, and will enable SMEs and other space sector organisations to further develop viable satellite enabled services for export or commercial use, the government says.

Greg Clark, minister for universities, science and cities, said: “The UK space sector is an engine of growth for the UK, growing at over 7 percent per year with over 5,000 jobs created in the last two years.

“Space is increasingly playing a vital role in our everyday lives and through this new programme the government will harness the potential of space and integrate it into its day to day business, to help save money, innovate and make more effective decisions.”

Clark said, for instance, the Department of Environment has formed an oversight group to “rapidly assess” the outcomes of the SSGP projects that could assist in its goal to increase its use of EO in accessing “impactful evidence” to develop and implement policies in more cost-effective ways.

One of the projects, Using Digital Technologies to Help Keep Exeter a Clean, Safe and Well Managed City, sees Exeter City Council take the lead to identify the viability of location-based technology to allow citizens to quickly report safety and compliance issues within urban areas. The project aims to allow local authorities to supply faster, more efficient maintenance services.

The project is being run in two stages, with the first stage using a small number of mobile devices and the second stage seeing the creation of a web portal for public use.

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