The United States Geological Service has long made its famous Landsat imaging data free to application developers, but there’s been a degree of leg work involved in getting any of that imagery into Amazon Web Services. Amazon has made the process easier for users and now offers some 85,000 images spanning the globe, which can help any business that mixes information technology in an agriculture, urban development or other geo-based capacity. There are also new processing and data features to encourage environmental use; key for companies and enterprises looking to push a green agenda, or working on environmental topics.

Available for free, AWS users can use this new cloud resource to create new types of app, or to overlay their data streams on real world imagery to learn about movement of people, vehicles, weather systems, tidal patterns and so on. Researchers and developers can take advantage of the latest update to Amazon’s on-demand services to run cloud-based analysis and perhaps create new types of data-based products. Technically, the files are stored as GeoTIFFs, with metadata stored in a JSON text file, the Amazon AWS blog has details plus a number of examples of usage scenarios from the beta test of the resource (

With massive destruction caused by recent typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis across South-East Asia in recent years, the data could come of particular use in responding to environmental damage and disasters, and helping to calculate the costs afterwards. The Landsat data is updated every 16 days, with medium resolution imagery of the Earth, providing a treasure trove of current and historical data dating back to the seventies about changes to the planet by man made and natural processes. Developers can use geolocation data to link data streams, digital photos and events to maps.The update is part of Amazon’s efforts to create more environmental uses for Amazon AWS, and encourage new and novel uses for its cloud technology that can help benefit the planet, and help inform government decision making. Expect plenty of interesting developments from this update and the applications to come.

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