The VALUABLES Consortium is measuring the socioeconomic benefits that Earth observations provide when people use them to make specific decisions to manage water resources, health and air quality, climate change, wildfires, and more. To do this, we are conducting a series of impact assessments. These are rigorous, quantitative studies that investigate how people use improved information to make these decisions and quantify how these decisions improve socioeconomically-meaningful outcomes such as lives saved or resources conserved.
Popular in fields like international development, impact assessments quantify the changes that can be attributed to a particular intervention like a project, program, or policy. We are conducting impact assessments for specific satellite data applications using an approach called the value of information (VOI). The VOI method compares outcomes in two different states of the world: a state in which action is taken based on currently-available information and a different state in which action is taken using improved information. The difference in socioeconomically-meaningful outcomes between the two states represents the value of the information.
Our current impact assessments include work that quantifies the value of using satellite data to
- Enforce air quality standards: Satellite data could be used to improve monitoring of county-level compliance with federal air quality standards and prioritize air pollution control activities that protect human health.
- Regulate air emissions from oil and gas development: Monitoring air quality using satellites can improve our understanding of the relationship between emissions from oil and gas development and infant health outcomes.
- Detect harmful algal blooms: Remote sensing can detect harmful algal blooms in recreational lakes and help managers take necessary steps to protect human health.
- Inform post-wildfire response: The U.S. Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team uses Landsat imagery to design cost-effective mitigation and recovery plans for the human and natural systems impacted by wildfire.
- Predict ice sheet decline: Data from GRACE-FO and other satellites can help experts form more accurate expectations about ice sheet decline, leading to more cost-effective adaptation strategies in the presence of sea level rise.