Commercial Remote Sensing Policy Could See Changes Soon, Says NOAA's Glackin

Commercial Remote Sensing Policy Could See Changes Soon, Says NOAA's Glackin

Mary Glackin, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told the 2010 International Commercial Remote Sensing Symposium (ICRSS) on Wednesday that commercial remote sensing policy was an important aspect of the ongoing review of U.S. national space policy. Ms. Glackin spoke of the increasing demand for commercial data and referred to the guiding principles of remote sensing policy in the 2006 National Space Policy. She said that while it is too early to provide details of the new Obama space policy, in time the industry would see that they would provide support.

In addition to data obtained through international partnerships — including synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from Canada — NOAA relies on data procured commercially from U.S. companies. “We need this commercial sector with us,” said Glackin.

NOAA is not only a consumer of data, but also the regulatory agency for the commercial remote sensing business. In response to questions about why NOAA is taking so long to respond to changes in the commercial sector that call for softening resolution restrictions on synthetic aperture radar satellites and allegations that NOAA is “dropp[ing] the ball here,” Ms. Glackin began by saying, “I could just say yes.” She added that the United States was “a nation at war,” a factor that contributed to the delay in revising the policy and that “the Secretary [of Commerce] understands what this means for competitiveness.” She alluded to policies that may be revised in the new version of national space policy that will ensure the U.S. commercial sector can keep moving forward.

The issue of balancing national security concerns – which drive government restrictions on the resolution of data commercial remote sensing providers are allowed to provide – while supporting innovation and growth in commercial remote sensing will be the topic of discussion in an ICRSS expert panel Thursday. ICRSS runs from March 3 to March 5 and is being held at the Reagan Building in Washington, DC. For more information, see the website for the event.

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