Opportunities for Increasing Societal Value of Remote Sensing Data in South Africa’s Strategic Development Priorities: A Review
Despite the enormous capital required to fund remote sensing initiatives, governments worldwide are increasingly adopting earth observation technologies to optimise operational efficiency and societal benefit. However, the value of information derived from earth observation will increase substantially if augmented by socio-economic data within contextualised focus areas of direct societal relevance. Within the framework of the key strategic development priorities designed by the South African government, the objective of this paper was to review existing and emerging remote sensing applications and their relevance to South Africa’s development priorities. Whereas there is potential for adoption of remote sensing techniques in other prioritised areas, this paper identifies health, crime analysis, rural planning and agriculture, natural resource management and physical planning as areas with considerable potential. However, to realise the set strategic priorities and outcomes, decision support systems that incorporate information derived from remote sensing should be maximised. To achieve this, it will be necessary to link patterns and processes from expert knowledge to emerging and existing societal challenges identified and to develop requisite policies of governance. The paper concludes that remote sensing technology has considerable potential to support sustainable socio-economic strategic priorities set by the South African government.