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by | Mar 23, 2023

Insight on the mississippi river drought pt. 3: real-world applications of dynamic monitoring

In part 1 and part 2, we covered how the Mississippi River drought dramatically changed the movement of commodities, its impact on industry, and how real-time satellite monitoring can help predict and avert commodity movement disruption.

Read on to dive deeper into the economic and humanitarian benefits of leveraging this technology during the Mississippi River drought and other events around the world.


Mitigating the economic impact of the Mississippi River drought

The ongoing Mississippi River drought provides a case study of how environmental challenges and static intelligence-gathering fall short. According to Bloomberg, the Mississippi River drought is causing shipping price spikes in a river basin that produces 92 percent of the nation’s agricultural exports.

Dry bulk commodity availability fluctuates as the drought changes how commodities move up the river. The lower water level restricts vessel traffic – leading to congestion delays – and limits the capacity of barges. Anticipating these fluctuations is key to controlling or avoiding cost increases and price spikes.

Data providers with on-demand satellite tasking and a robust analytics platform, like BlackSky, improve the ability to know and understand nuanced changes on the ground. Specialized satellite cameras and advanced analytics monitor sites over time to provide continuous insights into dry goods stockpiles – tracking vessel motion as well as capacity changes caused by varying river depths. BlackSky’s reliable and dynamic hourly monitoring from dawn to dusk, can be used to minimize bottlenecks, avoid unexpected costs, and enable more efficient commodity trading.


Focusing humanitarian efforts during the fuel crisis in Haiti 1

Businesses and essential services throughout Haiti rely on diesel-powered generators for power. When the Haitian government announced an end to fuel subsidies in September 2022, gangs took control of the country’s primary fuel terminal, the Varreux Fuel Terminal, in anticipation of dramatic cost increases for diesel, kerosene, and gas. Because of the dependence on diesel for electricity, access to the Varreux Terminal affects everything from telecommunications to medical care.

Night images from dynamic satellite monitoring over Port-au-Prince show locations that have working lights. This information can be used to determine who has access to fuel and who does not, such as hospitals struggling to provide care as they run short on resources. The resulting data is essential to focusing humanitarian efforts on the areas of greatest need.

Monitoring economic assets and supporting humanitarian aid in Ukraine

The conflict in Ukraine is another opportunity for satellite monitoring to help alleviate economic and human suffering. At the start of the conflict, real-time satellite monitoring provided critical insights on border crossings, nuclear facilities, and infrastructure. The intelligence was critical for supporting humanitarian aid initiatives.

With so many critical applications needing immediate global monitoring intelligence, satellite monitoring platforms must include advanced capabilities for collecting data as well as AI-driven analytics that provide actionable insights:

  • On-demand satellite tasking
  • Automated feature recognition and count
  • Motion and velocity change detection
  • Ability to capture images several times a daily
  • Image delivery in hours instead of days or weeks

Achieving persistent visibility into conditions and events on the ground ensures better decisions are made using real-time information. By anticipating issues, suppliers can avoid backlogs, commodities traders can better predict the flow of goods, and humanitarian agencies can get help to those most in need.

To learn how real-time geospatial intelligence can help inform your supply chain decisions, watch Using BlackSky to Gain Stockpile Commodity Insight on the Mississippi River from a recorded LinkedIn Live or contact us here.