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The Promise of Space-enabled Telemedicine

Space enables a variety of health and biotechnology applications including telemedicine, tracking of disease and allergy vectors, and biotechnology research. The OECD notes that telemedicine is one of the most promising applications of space telecommunication services. Trends of increased mobility and transport costs, along with military interest, are cited as demand drivers for space-enabled telemedicine.

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Toll Booths Getting the Boot?

Europe is considering satellite navigation to enable an elimination of toll booths and increase road safety. The EU Commission envisions a toll system based on satellite navigation and mobile telecommunications systems. Galileo is intended to be the backbone of this “pay-as-you- drive” system.

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Growth in Earth Observation

Monitoring and managing land use via remote sensing satellites is likely to be increasingly important for local governments. Remote sensing data has been used for population estimation since 1960, but the methodology of modeling population and population density accurately is still the subject of academic discussion. Since restrictions in the United States were lifted in the mid-90s, the potential for further development exists for the commercial remote sensing industry.

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Learning Lessons From Disasters for Space Applications

As expressed by the OECD, space can make a valuable contribution to the challenges that may face our societies and governments in the future. Space platforms can monitor air pollution and greenhouse gases for assessment and management, as well as natural disasters, enabling effective responses. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showcased the use of satellite capabilities for disaster management, communications, monitoring, and search and rescue.

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Law Enforcement Increases Use of GPS Products

In addition to fleet management, police officers regularly use GPS systems. Florida, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma recently passed laws requiring lifetime electronic monitoring for individuals who have committed certain crimes. A combination of an electronic anklet and a GPS transmitter allows officers to respond immediately if a convict enters an area which is off limits.

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Enhancing Search and Rescue

Search and rescue (SAR) missions often use satellite communications along with data from GPS receivers to improve success rates. The searchers’ safety and success are increased when there is an accurate record of their positions. For areas that have been mapped (for example, using satellite imagery), GPS units can be programmed with coordinates of dangerous sites (mine shaft s or cliff s) to warn searchers as they approach. Search dogs commonly wear GPS receivers so the search team can track the area the dog has covered.

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Identifying a Building’s Environmental Impact

Remote sensing satellites are used in urban planning, such as estimating population density and regional growth. Analysis and processing of satellite images can create maps that identify building use. Such patterns can also be analyzed over time. In this way, the number of residential dwellings can be estimated from high-resolution satellite images of cities. Dwelling estimates can then be aggregated to any geographical unit of analysis, population estimates for cities, and a dwelling density surface that can be categorized into any number of residential land-use classes.

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Pushing Education through Satellite Connections

Satellite communications have allowed governments in developing nations to establish e-governance portals and services without investing in terrestrial infrastructure. In Mexico, a distance learning course was beamed via satellite and the Internet to more than 1,800 teachers. Several governments, like the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN) in India, have established VSAT networks to communicate between offices and bring governmental services to remote provinces.

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Tabulating Votes with VSATs

Satellite capabilities are enabling dependable voting mechanisms in governments around the world. An e-voting satellite network, such as Gilat’s VSAT network, consists of a satellite dish and modem at each polling site connected to a central hub. Each poll operates electronic voting machines, which are connected to the central hub database via these very small aperture terminal (VSAT) connections.

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Canadian Coast Guard Communications

Remote outposts and naval vessels also can benefit from the high bandwidth mobile communication network offered by satellites. In 2006, the Canadian Coast Guard selected Telesat to provide ship-to-shore communications via satellites.

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