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BlackSky wins $4.4m IARPA contract

The SMART programme is working to automate the analysis of satellite imagery to improve change monitoring.

BlackSky Technology has received a $4.4m award from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to support the second phase of the multi-year Space-based Machine Automated Recognition Technique (SMART) Programme.

Commenting on the contract, Patrick O’Neil, Chief Innovation Officer of BlackSky, said: “As part of our work, BlackSky created a high-performance MLOps (machine learning operations) framework that was ultimately selected to perform as the core infrastructure to the entire SMART programme. The MLOps framework will extend BlackSky’s Spectra AI tasking and analytics capabilities and accelerate the development of SMART technologies that make quick sense of the immense volume and complexity of space-based image data.”

The SMART programme aims to automate the quantitative analysis of space-based imagery to perform broad-area searches for natural and man-made events using time-series imagery. Under the programme, BlackSky has developed both supervised and semi-supervised machine learning algorithms to automatically recognise heavy construction projects such as military bases, stadiums, campuses, dams, and airports.