Valuing Data: The Role of Satellite Data in Halting the Transmission of Polio in Nigeria

Article by Mariel Borowitz, Janet Zhou, Krystal Azelton & Isabelle-Yara Nassar: “There are more than 1,000 satellites in orbit right now collecting data about what’s happening on the Earth. These include government and commercial satellites that can improve our understanding of climate change; monitor droughts, floods, and forest fires; examine global agricultural output; identify productive locations for fishing or mining; and many other purposes. We know the data provided by these satellites is important, yet it is very difficult to determine the exact value that each of these systems provides. However, with only a vague sense of “value,” it is hard for policymakers to ensure they are making the right investments in Earth observing satellites.

NASA’s Consortium for the Valuation of Applications Benefits Linked with Earth Science (VALUABLES), carried out in collaboration with Resources for the Future, aimed to address this by analyzing specific use cases of satellite data to determine their monetary value. VALUABLES proposed a “value of information” approach focusing on cases in which satellite data informed a specific decision. Researchers could then compare the outcome of that decision with what would have occurredif no satellite data had been available. Our project, which was funded under the VALUABLES program, examined how satellite data contributed to efforts to halt the transmission of Polio in Nigeria…(More)”