The Canadian Space Agency has released the much anticipated Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data policy for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM).
If it looks familiar, that’s because what’s been discussed in the past as what possibly could be in the data policy, is the policy.
What’s important to understand with the data policy is how government views RCM. The policy states that “RCM is the flagship of Canada’s space-based Earth Observation program.”
That in a nutshell speaks volumes. That means the data will be used first and foremost by government to provide services to Canadians and by the Department of National Defence.
Specifically the policy states the SAR data will be used to:
- Ensuring the safety, defence and security of Canadians;
- Monitoring and protecting the environment;
- Monitoring of climate change;
- Managing Canada’s natural resources; and
- Stimulating innovation, research and economic development.
The issue of SAR data access is not a problem for government users, nor academics. Data not deemed sensitive will be released by the government through their Open Government initiative.
Access to the released data will be at no charge, and anyone can make Value Added Products (VAPs) and keep the intellectual property (IP) rights of those VAPs, however the government owns the IP of the original data.
The policy does leave open the possibility of a charge in the future. Specifically Section 9C reads “The Government of Canada may implement means to recover costs for data reprocessing and/or to meet demands for high volumes of RCM SAR data outside of the current capacity and capabilities of RCM SAR system.”
Section 9DC of the policy may also cause some issues for some, read industry, in wanting to take advantage of some of the data.
Section 9D reads: “Under certain situations the RCM System may face limitations which could prevent data being made available in a timely fashion and within the applicable quality standards.”
The data archives are governed by the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act. Who decides, and what data is held back, is not discussed.
The data policy does not spell out when data will be released after its acquisition, leaving those wanting to create VAPs not knowing if they can offer timely products. As well, tasking of the satellites is solely at the discretion of the government.
The document is labelled as “Initial Release”, perhaps leaving open the possibility of revisions.