Alternative data got a major boost in 2020 when unprecedented shocks to the global economy caused by the coronavirus led investors to seek new sources of information. Traders poured over credit card transactions, mobility data, job listings, news sentiment indices and satellite-derived intelligence to understand the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
It’s safe to say alternative data has moved into the mainstream and is here to stay. There’s even a podcast dedicated to the topic.
In a recent episode, Mark spoke with Ursa Space’s Daniela Moody and Daniel Baruch to learn more about the company’s role as an alternative data provider.
What’s the connection with alternative data?
Ursa Space specializes in synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a satellite-born sensor with 24/7, all-weather capabilities.
“The potential uses of SAR are almost unlimited, from measuring the number of cars currently under construction to the changing height of Mount Everest to detecting troop movements at sensitive borders,” Mark said during the episode’s introduction.
As most listeners likely aren’t familiar with SAR, Mark began by asking Daniela, Ursa Space’s Chief Technology Officer, what SAR is and how it works.
SAR goes back decades, Daniela said, but we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of how the technology can be used, as exciting changes in other fields open up new opportunities.
In this clip, Daniela explains how working at Ursa Space allowed her to be at the “bleeding edge of technological advancement.”
Daniel, Ursa Space’s Director of Global Energy Markets & Business Development, listed some of the ways in which Ursa Space’s clients use SAR-derived data to inform their decisions and strategies.
Commodity traders examine global oil inventory measurements to help forecast oil prices. Macro fund managers monitor economic assets to know when activity deviates from normal parameters. And investors verify the accuracy of companies’ self-reported data on meeting environmental goals.
In this segment, Daniel describes an example from last year when Ursa Space began monitoring auto manufacturing facilities in China shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak began. Our coverage expanded to plants around the world, allowing us to develop a global auto manufacturing index.