The latest news from the Terra Bella team
The Transformation of Burning Man
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Burning Man takes place at the end of August every year in the barren and remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The weeklong festival is described by its organization as “an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.” Earth-bound photographers have chronicled the legacy of art, technology, design, and fashion at the event over the years, but we at Skybox wanted to know if we could capture the transformation of the city from space, with our constellation of SkySats.
This is the result: A full-fledged city of population 70,000, “Black Rock City” is built up in a matter of days, experienced for a single week, and disassembled just as quickly, leaving no trace. It has an airport, a DMV, a hospital, newspapers, and a Department of Public Works.
The titular event is the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy (“the man”), which was set alight on the evening of Saturday, August 30th:
Photo: David Randall
“Theme camps” are participant-built villages that vary greatly in scale and concept - the realization of the creators’ whims and creativity:
The Burning Man organization (Black Rock City LLC) creates the infrastructure of Black Rock City, including the round Center Camp, which serves as a city center and town hall plaza of sorts. First to be set up and last to be taken down, the infrastructure of Black Rock City provides the services and structure to the event that keep it organized and safe.
“The Temple of Grace is intended to be a spiritual and sacred space for memorials, reflection, celebration, and to commemorate life transitions...The community comes to write their memorials and place tokens of their transitions, and it is burned at the end of the festival in a tradition of releasing them by the immolation of the temple.” (The Temple Crew)
Photo: David Randall
Photo: John Curley
Burning Man attracts artists, amateur and professional, who build installations at great scale and with fleeting lifespan:
Photo: David Randall
Black Rock City is built around a unique, and trademarked, radial design:
Explore the transformation of Burning Man yourself in Google Maps Engine
(Hint: Try the layers)
Jon Zemel, Product Manager, Analytics and Ground Software
IDP Camp Development in Juba, South Sudan
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Amid the flurry of excitement that has come with the
launch of SkySat-2
, we’ve been continuing to observe interesting sites around the world with SkySat-1, noting signatures of economic, environmental and geopolitical activity in some rapidly-changing areas of the world. One such location of interest is Juba, South Sudan.
This capital city of conflict-affected South Sudan has been home to thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) seeking safety from internal violence, which has persisted since the South Sudanese Civil War began on December 15, 2013. The Tomping base of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (
) at the Juba International Airport has provided shelter and safety to IDPs since the war’s outbreak. Using SkySat-1 data from December 2013 to July 2014, we’ve been able to observe recent changes in the IDP camp area and shelter density as populations and resources continue to evolve.
Fig. 1: IDP camp development in Juba, South Sudan from December 28, 2013 to July 12, 2014. Color-coded overlays defined in the legend depict camp aerial extent defined by the presence of temporary shelters and related camp infrastructure observed in the imagery. Pre-SkySat-1 measurements from the first three dates were acquired from the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Program (UNITAR/UNOSAT).
The ability to take imagery of the same area over a short period of time illustrates that while the overall camp area has continued to expand, shelter densities in some areas have declined. After the initial influx, UNMISS was able to spread the IDPs out and start moving them to the nearby UN House to the south. According to Brittany Card at the
Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
(HHI),“Remote sensing analysis of IDP and refugee camps is not only useful for those utilizing satellite imagery to monitor complex humanitarian disasters, but also for ground responders assisting vulnerable populations.”
Fig. 2: Time-dependent IDP camp development in Juba, South Sudan. See Fig. 1 for context description and key.
The animation and accompanying graph above show the growth of the camp over a period of seven months, portraying how the IDP shelters have been organized and rearranged over time. Note that the top left-hand corner only has developed during the last month or so.
At Skybox, we aim to empower decision makers - from first responders to soy bean farmers - with timely information derived from our growing constellation of highly capable small satellites. With our imagery, the possibilities are endless.
UNITAR/UNOSAT UNMISS IDP Camp Expansion Map
Move to new UN IDP camp
Posted by Christina Krawec, Geointelligence Analysis Intern
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