Satellite imagery is increasingly employed for land-use analysis and planning. In this article, we examine the economic value of high-resolution (HR) satellite images as perceived by direct users. Drawing on a French spatial-data infrastructure (SDI), the direct users of which are mostly from public bodies, we used a contingent-valuation method to evaluate their willingness to pay (WTP) for satellite imagery. A clear understanding of the value of these images is critical for justifying the large investments made in this sector and supporting policies that aim to develop and sustain these resources. We analyzed the differences in the stated values according to the various types of users. A survey of the registered users on the Geo Information for Sustainable Development (GEOSUD) platform found a mean value of €1,696 for a 60 × 60-km2 HR image. Charging this amount leads to an acceptance rate of 43%, with 57% of users no longer acquiring the imagery. Furthermore, we noticed significant differences in values for images among the sectors. The results show that users are more willing to pay a fixed yearly amount to join an HR-image pooling system than to be charged per image. Hence, we recorded a mean membership value of €3,022, with 12% of users willing to pay up to €15,000 to join such a service. For the 7,500 HR images available on the platform, the total user benefits amount to €12.7 million.
How much would you pay for a satellite image? Lessons learned from a French spatial data infrastructure
20 April 2020