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BlackSky Advances to Third Phase of SMART Program for AI Tools

By Rachel Jewett | January 31, 2024

      BlacSky image collected over Port Elizabeth in South Africa on Aug. 10, 2020. Photo: BlackSky via Business WIre

      BlackSky Technology won a contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) for the third phase of the Space-based Machine Automated Recognition Technique (SMART) program. 

      BlackSky has won previous awards for the SMART program in 2022 and 2021. Phase III is the final phase and emphasizes the transfer of SMART broad area search technologies into other U.S. government programs. Broad area search technology focuses on large areas and is used to help intelligence organizations get a wide-angle, baseline picture of change over time.

      BlackSky said that its AI tools developed under the SMART program now analyze more than 20% of the Earth’s surface every month. The company reported its AI tools have detected and classified more than 2 million change observations with a high degree of accuracy over 120 thousand distinct sites after analyzing five years of historic broad area satellite imagery from government and commercial sources.

      “BlackSky built a high-performance machine learning operations (MLOps) architecture for the SMART program that was originally designed to manage the analysis of 1 million square kilometers of land,” said Patrick O’Neil, BlackSky CTO. “That foundational technology is now generating value elsewhere on other U.S. government search and discovery efforts, where we are analyzing more than 30 million square kilometers — more than 20% — of the Earth’s surface every month.”