Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Big Data: Commercial Satellite Imagery and Its Promise of Speed and Transparency

  • Philipp Olbrich
  • Nina Witjes


Geospatial Big Data is still a moving issue that is constantly contested and shaped by a multitude of actors and technological developments. Olbrich and Witjes carve out the sociotechnical imaginaries of the techno-political, analytical and security implications of geospatial Big Data development amongst the remote-sensing community. Predominantly, notions of condensed temporality and transparency permeate these visions and imagined futures. The community foresees that a constant influx of Earth observation data will replace current limits on availability and access; that epistemic practices evolve into machine–human synergies of accelerated processes of analysis; and that security policy needs to respond to a new sense of urgency as a result of increasingly predictive modes of operation.


Big Data Earth observation Geospatial information technologies Sociotechnical imaginaries Satellite imagery Transparency Machine–human interaction Science and technology 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philipp Olbrich
    • 1
  • Nina Witjes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International Relations and International OrganizationUniversity of GroningenGroningenNetherlands

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