DENVER, July 13 -- Space Imaging's high-resolution Ikonos satellite imagery is being used by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to survey the cultivation of illicit crops in Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar and Bolivia. One of the most recent studies, the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2003, published in October 2003, is the first Afghanistan survey completed in conjunction with the new government in Kabul. The survey indicates that in 2003, Afghanistan again produced three-quarters of the world's illicit opium. The UNODC most recently used Ikonos imagery in its Bolivia Coca Cultivation Survey 2003 published in June 2004.
Space Imaging's regional affiliate, Space Imaging Middle East, based in Dubai, collected the imagery for the UN's Afghanistan survey. Ikonos snapped 43 high-resolution pre-harvest and post-harvest color images during the 2003 survey timeframe. More than 89,000 hectares (220,000 acres) were imaged as Ikonos orbited from north to south at 17,000 mph over the Middle East. Space Imaging Southeast Asia, based in Bangkok, collected approximately 70 high-resolution images for the UNODC's Myanmar survey to monitor opium poppy cultivation. The images were collected during between December 2003 and January 2004.
According to the United Nations, the objectives of the UNODC's Illicit Crop Monitoring Program are "to establish methodologies for data collection and analysis, to increase governments' capacity to monitor illicit crops and to assist the international community in monitoring the extent and evolution of illicit crops in the context of the elimination strategy adopted by the Member States at the General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in June 1998.
Thibault le Pichon, UNODC manager, Illicit Crop Monitoring Program, said, "The introduction of civilian high-resolution imagery in the monitoring of illicit narcotics in recent years has enabled UNODC and concerned nations to considerably improve the effectiveness and safety of surveys conducted in difficult and/or dangerous areas."
Robert Dalal, CEO of Space Imaging, said, "A key advantage of the IKONOS satellite system is its capability to task and download imagery from regional grounds stations around the world. Our regional affiliates have the "digital landing rights" for high-quality imagery. Ikonos provided frequent revisit rates and product consistency which helped the UN do their analysis of illicit crop production with high efficiency and lower risk."
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