An environmental group from Fiji and a New Zealand high school are the winners of the Space for Planet Earth Challenge.
Yadrava na Vanua (Environment Watch) from Suva, Fiji, was awarded the Grand Prize today, while Newlands College, Wellington, won the Grand Prize at the High School level.
Yadrava na Vanua’s project focused on integrating satellite data on land cover types across Fiji with groun
d truth measurements, and refining carbon sequestration data. The team used machine learning analysis of high-resolution satellite images from Planet to generate international standard levels of measurements, reporting, and verification of carbon stocks.
‘Not Basic,’ the entry from Newlands College, used machine learning analysis of satellite data to predict the conditions leading to coral bleaching as detected within the Allen Coral Atlas.
Six teams from New Zealand, Australia and Fiji competed in demonstration sessions in front of a panel of judges, and made then pitch presentations to an online audience.
The winners will receive cash prizes of $30,000 and $10,000 each, satellite data from Planet and mentorship from SpaceBase.
Additionally the High School team will receive scholarships from the US-based MMAARS Academy to attend its Level 1 Virtual Mars Programme.
“The presentations that I’ve seen were so amazing … and I was blown away by the ideas and the ability that they’ve shown… Planet is so proud to be part of this competition,” said Dr Tanya Harrison, Director of Strategic Innovation for Planet and a finals judge for the competition.
The winners were selected by judges from Planet, the US Embassy to New Zealand, Pacific GIS and Remote Sensing Council, Rocket Lab, Callaghan Innovation, ChristchurchNZ, Callaghan Innovation and Consegna.cloud.
The awards were presented by the NZ Space Agency and the US Embassy.
“I’ve been extremely impressed with the sophistication of the solutions that have been developed, by the approach of looking for different data sources to incorporate into those solutions, to reaching out to other organisations, establishing partnerships to make this more effective, and the quality of the presentations,” said Dimitri Geidelberg, Principal Advisor to the NZ Space Agency.
The Challenge was the brainchild of SpaceBase founders who leverage incentive prizes and space technologies to catalyse innovation while solving tough problems in the region.
“Already, we see the Challenge as pushing the teams to accelerate their research and create opportunities they may not otherwise have been able to realise,” said Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, CEO of SpaceBase.
“We think this is only the beginning for these climate change focused innovations, and we hope to continue to support these teams in their progress over the coming months and years.”
The Challenge was made possible through a partnership between SpaceBase Limited and Planet. Sponsors include the US Embassy in New Zealand, K1W1, NZ Space Agency, ChristchurchNZ, Consegna.cloud, Clare Foundation, Greenlight Ventures, Namaste Foundation, Engineering Dreams, MMAARS Academy and Christchurch City Council.
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