Earth and marine observation worth billions to Asia Pacific

25 August 2020 4 min. read
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Collaboratively harnessing the potential of Earth and marine observing (EMO) technology could add well over $1 trillion in value for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies by 2030. This is according to a study by Nous Group, published in collaboration with the Australian Government.

Described as the collection, analysis and interpretation of information on the Earth’s natural systems, Earth and marine observing has wide ranging industrial applications and benefits for the individual consumer, not to mention its potential in disaster management. Added together, the economic value of EMO in the APEC region currently adds up to $372 billion, according to Nous Group and the Australian Government.

Nearly $300 billion of this can be chalked up to additional GDP contributions through the industrial applications of EMO. The rest is the sum of $46 billion from non-market services to consumers and $26 billion in disaster prediction and management. According to the authors, these figures are only set to increase, owing to a number of factors.

For one, EMO is coming into its own as a highly accurate and capable field due to tech advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and the internet of things (IoT). Industries will stand to gain tremendous value here, as more accuracy can dramatically improve planning.

Value of EMO to APEC

The transportation sector is expected to be the biggest winner from this scenario. “Across the APEC region, EMO-enabled technologies are estimated to have increased the value added to GDP by the transport industry by US$140 billion – 47% of the overall value added to all industry,” wrote the report’s authors.

The figure takes into account increased accuracy in digital mapping as well as weather and ocean systems, which has made the logistics machinery more time & fuel - efficient. As new forms of mobility take centre stage, the use of tech to accurately coordinate movements will become of crucial importance.

The power utilities sector is a distant second, gaining more than $35 billion in value from enhanced demand forecasting and asset management capacities. The sector is also going through a transition to renewables, which will make such capabilities a key consideration.

Across agriculture, fisheries and forestry, GPS positioning is improving accuracy, while data analytics are being used to generate more output and develop better harvest strategies. The result is $37 billion in value added. At the same time, mining is also forecasted to gain around $35 billion from EMO, which has a plethora of applications for the sector.

What comprises EMO

These include: the use of satellite imagery in exploration, drone and other monitoring systems for asset maintenance and regulation adherence; and weather forecasts that can (for example) improve safety to staff and reduce the risk of environmental problems, through timely shut-down of offshore rigs in bad weather.

Then there is the value added to the communications sector, where Earth and marine observing technology can enhance asset monitoring and maintenance, and consequently reduce network disruptions. Such capabilities lay a strong foundation for the 5G boom that is anticipated to hit home in the near future.

Improving disaster management

So tech advancement has increased EMOs industrial potential multifold. On the disaster management and consumer side of things, Nous Group and the Australian Government point out that the current estimate of more than $70 billion in cumulative value added is a highly conservative one.

For instance, the estimated value in disaster management doesn’t take into account the lower mortality and injury rates that stem from strong rescue services. On the consumer side, only weather forecasting was included in the calculations, leaving out the substantial value that is added through more accurate mapping.

The main players in EMO

Going forth, the value in each segment is set to increase, and the report estimates annual growth in EMO value of 12% leading up to 2030. This should take EMO value added up to more than $1.3 trillion over the next decade, and this is just the “business-as-usual” scenario.

A number of economic experts from the APEC region highlighted that collaboration among regional economies could give this value a boost, pegged by the report at an additional 7% over the next decade.

“Greater collaboration is required to encourage investment; to bolster the baseline level of capability across APEC; and to enable innovation that can expand the boundaries of EMO technologies. From consultations undertaken for this study it was clear that many APEC economies would benefit from greater sharing of infrastructure, data and data products that could improve the reliability and accuracy of their predictions. To do this, several economies would require support to build their capabilities to share their own data,” wrote the authors.