By Kimberly Mitchell
Tre Altamira performs ground measurement movements analysis using InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) data. Using this data, they calculate displacements or movement on the surface of the earth for a variety of commercial clients, as well as maintaining relationships with several space agencies around the world. Tre Altamira is celebrating its 20th year in business and is the leading InSAR provider. CEO Adrian Bohane recently spoke to SNN to explain more about what makes Tre Altamira stand out in the field.
SNN: Can you describe your InSAR services?
Adrian: Basically, what we sell as an insider study, which includes a database of points on the ground and the actual movement associated with those points. So for example, if it’s a mine, you know, you want to monitor the dam, the tailings dam, the report you get shows you how the dam has moved in the past, let’s say a month for the past week or the past six months. That’s the basic service is a database and a report on the movement over the assets of the client.
SNN: Tre Altamira has a long history in this industry. What advantages does that provide?
Adrian: We were spun out of the University of Milan, which is called the Politecnico di Milano about 20 years ago now, so we’re not really a newcomer in that sense. And we’ve been doing InSAR right from day one. And that’s all we do. For 20 years, we’ve been refining the algorithms, improving the service, improving the techniques, and one of the benefits, particularly in our case, is this connection to the university. The code we’ve written always has one foot in this academic sector in the sense that we often publish in peer reviewed publications about our code and about our advancements in technology. We still have connections to the University of Milan, we have connections to other universities, to academic institutes in the US and Europe. We have a fairly active program of people taking leaves to do MS or PhDs and coming back to the company.
SNN: Who is your target customer?
Adrian: The three biggest sectors are the oil and gas sector, the mining sector and the infrastructure sector and are about equal in proportion. InSAR has kind of exploded in the last 18 months. Everyone has enjoyed quite substantial growth, even through COVID. Quite a big chunk of that has been driven by the increase in interest from the mining industry to monitor tailings because there have been, in recent history, some disasters, particularly in Brazil. They have dozens of monitoring techniques, but InSAR is fairly unique because the satellites cover the whole world. So, from our desk, we can produce movement updates for a mine in Brazil or in Chile or in Australia.
SNN: What challenges are you facing right now?
Adrian: The challenge in the industry is just coping with the volume of new requests right now. One of the major things is we train people to do the data processing and the data analysis and it can take up to a year or more. So when you get a big increase in volume, you suddenly need more people and it takes time to train them.
There are new constellations of satellites being built particularly by startups like Capella. And they say the data that they’re going to be producing is going to really help us to go from say, a weekly study to a daily study online of an asset. That could really increase the usage by existing clients and bring in new clients because we can produce information much faster and much more current. So we see the inputs of these new data constellations or satellite constellations have a huge boost.
SNN: Where do you see Tre Altamira in 3-5 years?
Adrian: We have a positive outlook for the next three to five, constant growth and figuring out ways to deal with that growth optimization and standardization. I think InSAR will somewhat transform from a startup mentality more into an industrial mentality. The next three to five will sort of cement that…the companies are all…getting to the size where it’s not a 5 to 10 person startup, you’re really into that small to medium size business.
SNN: What is Tre Altamira’s relationship with the CLS Group?
Adrian: We were bought by CLS in 2015, so CLS is our corporate. CLS is a company that does everything satellite, mainly marine maritime monitoring, and I think they’re interested in us to have a land base, because we can only monitor the land, not the maritime. So for CLS, it kind of creates a complete suite of land and maritime monitoring. So that gives them the big picture.
SNN: Thank you, Adrian!
CLS is a subsidiary of the French space agency CNES and of CNP, which has provided monitoring and surveillance solutions and is the exclusive provider of ARGOS environmental data. Tre Altamira also works with NASA, ESA and other agencies worldwide. All of their peer-reviewed academic InSAR papers are available online. Visit tre-altamira.com for more information on all the company offers.