Air and Space Evidence, calling themselves the world’s first Space Detective Agency, are launching a new service using ‘spy in the sky’ satellite technologies to detect waste crime.
The new service called Waste from Space is based on the company's development of a semi-automated detection model using satellite data (and machine learning algorithms and enables the firm to offer an effective and commercially viable geospatial intelligence tool that can detect serious waste crime.
Waste crime is increasingly causing significant damage to society and is estimated to cost the UK more than a billion pounds a year. It is estimated to cost all EU countries 72 — 90 billion euros per annum.
In 2016, the head of the Environment Agency in England called waste crime the “new narcotics,” commenting that “it feels to me like drugs felt in the 1980s: the system hadn’t quite woken up to the enormity of what was going on and was racing to catch up.” Interpol, Europol and the UN have identified it as one of the fastest growing areas of organized crime. It is increasingly recognized to have the potential to rival drug trafficking in terms of scale and profits. One Italian mafia gang is estimated to make as much money annually from waste crime as the global turnover of McDonalds.
More than 1,000 illegal waste sites now spring up in England each year. One single site discovered in Northern Ireland is believed to contain 1.5 million tonnes of illegally deposited waste — which is significantly more municipal waste than the whole of Northern Ireland produces in a year (i.e., 969,157 tons in 2015-2016).
In 2016/2017, Air and Space Evidence received funding from the European Space Agency, Open Data Incubator for Europe (ODINE), and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to conduct research and trials examining how this problem can be tackled using space technologies. Air and Space Evidence are now launching a much-needed waste crime monitoring service to governments.
Air and Space Evidence are Finalists of the European Earth observation product of the year award 2017 (for ‘Waste from Space’). The winner will be announced by the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies on July 4, 2017.