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From Satellite Data to Informed Decisions

The “Data for Virginia” ( initiative is a partnership between the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center (VMASC), Virginia Institute for Spaceflight and Autonomy (VISA), NASA, and Analytical Mechanics Associates (AMA). Data4VA was launched in early 2020 to help solve Virginia’s greatest environmental and social challenges through the use of satellite data. The Data4VA system, to be operational this year, will be available to a broad range of users including state and local governments, educational institutions, and commercial entities.

​Why create a Virginia Data Cube? To help our state make informed decisions that affect us all.

  • Understand land-use and land-change by managing all of VA’s satellite data in one place.

  • The timing is right ... satellite data is free and open in the cloud, but we need to make it easy for users!

  • Build a community of users with lower barrier to entry

  • Data Democracy - open access to Government, Education & Industry 

  • Help solve VA’s most challenging social and environmental problems!

A Virginia partnership with leaders from Government, Academia, and Industry


Virginia's Open Data Platform - Data Democratization

By creating an open data platform that is accessible to the entire commonwealth, Data4VA harnesses the power of satellite data to address issues including: habitat loss, urbanization, pollution, fires, water quality & supply, energy, and coastal resilency. “We believe in data democratization and allowing open access to our system to every person in our state. We believe everyone should be able to access our state’s data, ask questions, and get answers about land-use and land-change,” said Mr. John Costulis, Deputy Director for VISA at VMASC. Previously, satellite data has only been readily accessible by experts. This needs to change for our society to make progress.

Open Data Cubes - Revolutionizing the accessibility to Satellite data

Big Data analytical capabilities and “Data Cubes” are a new paradigm revolutionizing the way users interact with satellite data. Data4VA uses the Open Data Cube (, an open source data cube platform that allows storage of vast amounts of satellite data (e.g., Landsat) and non-satellite data (e.g., population data) to support critical decision making. “We have been supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using the Open Data Cube, tacking problems ranging from illegal mining in Ghana to deforestation in the Amazon. With this capability to look at our earth in a totally new way, we can use this technology to solve real-world problems in the Commonwealth,” commented Dr. Brian Killough of NASA LaRC, who leads NASA’s global Data Cube efforts.

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Innovation for Virginia - Earth Science Analytics, Cloud Computing, ML

Advances in fundamental technologies are supporting this vision. Dr. Sanjay Gowda, Chief Innovation Officer of AMA, comments on the technological revolution that underpins Data4VA: “Our society is profoundly changing day-by-day through data science and information technology. Cloud computing, machine learning, and advanced analytics are changing the way people make important decisions that affect all of us. We are passionate about leveraging these technologies around the globe, and we are especially proud to bring this technology home to Virginia, benefiting our local community."

Leadership - Partnership, Commercialization, and Education

Partnership is key to making this all work. Dr. David Bowles, Executive Director of the VISA, discussed the motivation behind the partnership: “We are in a unique position to bring together leaders in government, academia, and commercial entities to solve difficult problems for our state. With the experienced team we have onboard, we are poised to make a difference and affect real change. Technology commercialization and motivating STEM education are critical to our efforts. We are in Data4VA for the

long run.”

Contact Us

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Mr. John Costulis, VISA - Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center

Dr. David Bowles, VISA - Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center

Dr. Brian Killough, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dr. Sanjay Gowda, Analytical Mechanics Associates

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