Planet Launches Nonprofit Program to Empower Mission-Driven Organizations
Planet Labs announced the launch of its Nonprofit Program, an offering that provides access to Planet imagery and support services specifically for nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOS).
In line with Planet’s mission to use space to help life on Earth and in effort to enable more impactful uses of Planet’s data, the offering addresses two traditional challenges facing nonprofits – limited budgets and resources, and the infrastructure and technical expertise to analyze the data. The goal is that by providing more accessible data products and technical support services, the Nonprofit Program will help users better extract information and create applications that power decisions and enable action.
"If we want to accelerate action on the critical issues of our time -- including the climate emergency, threats to nature, sustainable and inclusive development, public health and global peace and security among them -- we must supercharge the NGOs that work on these vital issues," said Andrew Zolli, Planet's Chief Impact Officer. "This is an effort to do just that, by reducing the barriers and getting the best available data into the most relevant hands."
Nonprofit organizations can incubate powerful new use cases relevant to commercial market segments. Because NGOs are often working to address challenging issues that exist without developed solutions, they rely on the ingenuity of researchers and scientists who test new methods using innovative data sources and technology. These new methods can have a wide array of applications that go beyond their unique use case and serve the needs of larger markets.
Early Nonprofit Program Users
Like Planet, nonprofits and NGOs are mission-driven, high-impact organizations. They operate in nearly all key commercial verticals at Planet, such as agriculture, forestry, and sustainability, or aim to promote human rights and protect our environment and biodiversity.
A number of lighthouse partners have helped to incubate and refine the Nonprofit Program, including The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Institute for International Urban Development (I2UD).
For example, TNC is using PlanetScope and SkySat imagery to develop high-resolution regional maps of mangroves in the Caribbean and Papua New Guinea, and seagrasses in the Caribbean and China. Mangroves and seagrasses provide important ecosystem services such as sequestering and storing large amounts of carbon, provide habitat for important commercial and recreational species, and provide natural protection against storm surge.
“Without easily accessible, up-to-date information, conservation groups like ours find it difficult to analyze and select optimal sites for effective conservation and restoration efforts within these blue carbon ecosystems, which are key to mitigating climate change,” says Emily Landis, Climate and Ocean Lead at TNC.
Now with access to Planet’s imagery, TNC aims to improve the accuracy of its mangrove maps; refine extents of regional seagrass; enable better estimates for blue carbon accounting; prioritize sites for restoration; and identify change in spatial extent in order to maintain and preserve the health of these critical coastal ecosystems.
Another use case is the work I2UD completed in collaboration with Dymaxion Labs, Habitat for Humanity Honduras, GOAL Honduras, and the Honduran Institute of Earth Sciences (IHCIT), in partnership with the Data and Society Accelerator Program from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, which introduced Planet to I2UD.
The team improved and evolved a land management and decision-making tool geared to Global South secondary and tertiary cities that lack quality and up-to-date local data to monitor exposure of informal settlements and low-income communities to severe and extreme weather impacts. The tool, AI Climate, processes geospatial images and georeferenced datasets and derives analytics-ready layers of impacts associated with climate change. I2UD is improving and developing layers to identify flooding and landslide risks, informal urbanization, and land value differentials.
By using PlanetScope basemaps, I2UD and its partners were able to map vulnerable communities in Tegucigalpa and Sula Valley in Honduras. Compared to previous satellite data platforms, the project analysts found PlanetScope basemaps performed significantly better in both geographies based on intersection of ground truth (IoGT) data, with fewer noisy predictions, and a bigger size of image could be fed into the neural network.
“Since both climate change and socially vulnerable communities, including informal settlements, are moving targets, it is imperative to aim for speed and frequent updates to make risk information available to those communities as well as planners and policy makers in fast-urbanizing cities; our goal is to use just enough information to keep AI Climate economical and agile but still with good quality prediction,” said Alejandra Mortarini, Vice President, I2UD.
An essential part of the I2UD AI Climate platform is to incorporate local partners and communities’ knowledge of their own conditions to ensure that community organizations can make sense of the platform’s findings, and are able to use those outcomes for their own benefit. “The combination of Planet’s higher resolution images, AI technology, and ground truth provided by local partners create a powerful tool for effective city resiliency co-production,” Alfredo Stein, University of Manchester, UK, Senior Advisor to AI Climate, explained.
“That is why Planet's imagery was key in providing higher resolution to better create local data for local partners,” Carlos Rufin, President, I2UD, continued. “The cost of higher-resolution imagery is typically unattainable for nonprofits. By providing highly discounted imagery to NGOs and nonprofits, Planet could make a difference in so many dimensions.”
A Proven Model
Part of the Planet Programs ecosystem, this standardized, tiered-pricing offering is modeled after a successful five-year Education & Research (E&R) Program. To-date, that program has been utilized by over 100 institutions, serving over 1,000 academics who have contributed to over 2,000 scientific publications.
The launch and refresh of various Planet Programs is part of the company’s aim to stimulate and diversify its overall user ecosystem. The updated programs expand access to Planet’s products, refresh its pricing and packages to fit user group needs, and refine onboarding and add ongoing education tools for user communities to tap into best practices, such as through the recent launch of Planet University and Planet Community.
“We can only imagine what a new generation of partners, developers and ecopreneurs will be able to build with our data when barriers to it are removed,” said Zolli. “Our goal is that by more seamlessly getting data into nonprofits’ hands, more people can move from awareness of challenges to making smarter decisions and taking action on them. That’s change we can get behind.”
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.