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On satellite imagery and sand mafia

The cost of launching satellites is going down, be it in the US or in India. Smaller and easier to develop micro-satellites are the latest trend, usually developed with a specific goal in mind e.g. satellite imagery. These, and a lot of other factors, have contributed to an increase in the number of satellites hovering over earth in the recent years, a number which is bound to only keep increasing.

ISRO recently put 88 (micro) satellites belonging to Planet Labs, satellites which Planet Labs will use to image the Earth everyday. ISRO and other government space organizations themselves have satellites that image the Earth and/or their respective countries on a regular basis. And a number of these organizations are releasing their data publicly.

With that context, I realized a while back that daily imagery will help identify and possibly curb sand mafia, specifically in India. The boom in infrastructure, specifically housing and office construction in India, was one of the reasons why the sand mafia exists. A number of people have died trying to uncover and expose the sand mafia, given the amount of money involved in the infrastructure and construction business. So, I thought that it'd be safer, and scalable, to use satellite imagery instead of being on the ground.

Maybe some weekend I'll sit down and look for satellite imagery available in the public domain, specifically of rivers in India, and understand if this is possible and how it can be done.

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