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5 mins read 22 Nov 2019

AWS-Deloitte GRAVITY Space Challenge Winners Announced

Three teams crowned winners of the first Gravity Challenge by designing solutions to harness the power of space-based data, technology and services in conjunction with AWS and Deloitte services - for the greater benefit of Australians.

Gravity Challenge logo showing a black circle silhouetted against an orange sky, with the Earth on the left and a satellite on the right.
Credit: Gravity Challenge

Three teams have been announced as winners of the 6-week Gravity Challenge, awarded on their designed solutions to tap into space services to resolve fire risks along network infrastructure, identify of mould and smoke hazards and providing farmers with data on growth cycles, crop stress, and yield estimates.

In its first year, the Gravity Challenge is an initiative launched by Amazon Web Services in partnership with Deloitte and the South Australian Premier’s Office to bring together stakeholders from the Australian space community (such as entrepreneurs, universities, governments and businesses) to design solutions aimed at resolving industrial, social and environmental problems across Australia using space-based data, resources and technology.  

In addition to this, participants were encouraged to leverage AWS and Deloitte space capabilities, such as harnessing the recently announced AWS Ground Station service.

The winners were awarded across three categories:

  • Meteor Award for the most innovative use of space capability – awarded to NSW-based Spiral Blue for its cloud-based data engine that forecasts fire risks along with network infrastructure
  • Galaxy Award for the most innovative use of space data – awarded to SA-based Frazer-Nash Consultancy for its cloud-based solution that will help NT Health identify mould and smoke hazards
  • Supernova Award for the greatest social impact – awarded to VIC-based Aerospace Systems for its Information-as-a-Service platform which gives farmers information about crop growth cycles, yield estimates, and crop stress

The competition featured 12 challenges ranging from forecasting aviation weather patterns for air traffic operations, monitoring of ecosystems, natural disaster assistance, mining operations, water monitoring, development of pharmaceuticals in space and assisting farmers.

“We had such a diverse range of challenges from industries including agriculture, transport, financial services, health, and energy,” said Mr. Jason Bender, Head of Innovation at Deloitte.

“There were 12 challenges put forward, and 42 teams came together to try and solve them. We saw a wonderful amount of collaboration between the innovators and the challengers, with some teams meeting the challengers several times to understand the problem and tailor their solution,” he said.

Simon Elisha, Head of Solution Architecture, Public Sector in Australia and New Zealand at Amazon Web Services (AWS), said initiatives such as the GRAVITY Space Challenge allow the industry to demonstrate how innovation and technology can help solve some of the community’s biggest issues.

“AWS is proud to be part of a program that has brought together an inspiring group of people to showcase the breadth of talent, knowledge, and skills in Australia. The accessibility of satellite data and cloud technology will be a significant driver of our future economy and has the potential to help improve social outcomes such as reducing wastage by helping farmers more efficiently manage their crops. We are seeing early signs of how space data can help organisations of all sizes, including start-ups, government agencies, and universities to develop innovative solutions by allowing them to ingest, process, and analyse large volumes of space data quickly and securely,” Mr. Elisha said.

Winners and their Solutions

Spiral Blue decided to leverage datasets to accurately record, analyse and monitor electricity network assets in both static and real-time scenarios, improving network safety, reliability and customer experience across SA power networks.

Their solution incorporated three separate data sources (on the ground IoT; geospatial satellite data and Bureau of Meteorology data) processed in a cloud-based engine and apply machine learning capabilities to help manage fire risks across the state’s power networks.

Frazer-Nash Consultancy took on the challenge of utilising satellite data to improve the health of Northern Territorians in the dry and wet seasons by developing and monitoring environmental indicators for smoke and mould across the Northern Territory, in addition to the accessibility of information for individuals in remote areas with limited internet and/or phone coverage.

Their solution employed an algorithm to predict mould before it could be seen with the naked eye, in addition to using a network of satellite-connected ground stations in remote communities that could provide the latest information on risks and mitigations in extreme weather or bushfire situations.

And lastly, Aerospace Systems took on the challenge of helping farmers prosper and grow by leveraging space data to help better inform our rural customers to make better decisions.

Their solution uses hyperspectral satellite imagery and environmental data to develop an Information-as-a-Service platform which provides information about growth cycles, yield estimates and the potential of the land to enable rapid and early responses to crop stress and enable efficient use of resources. In addition to this, an analytics platform that enables regular insights into farm growth and change patterns, yield forecasting, climatic conditions, crop stress, and health and much more to identify problems and generate predictive estimates on the paddock, state or continental scales.