Capturing and Mapping the Digital Divide from Space

2 Feb 2021 5:18 PM

Original Paper: De Guzman M.F.D., MendozaG.G.S., Hilario, C.A.G., & Marciano, J.J.S. Jr. (2019). Spectrum Monitoring from Space with i-SEEP (SMoSiS) - Capturing and Mapping the Digital Divide from Space through Radio Frequency Spectrum Measurements. 

Most of the processes and operations around the world run through the internet. It provided virtual paths to boost accessibility and efficiency in commerce, education, health and other important industries around the globe. As the world shifted from snail mails to the tap of a button, we wonder what can we science and technology do to address ‘dead spots’ or places where wireless technologies cannot be utilized?

As the world is experiencing the benefits of wireless technologies, basic access to these services remains a problem for some of the people in remote or less fortunate communities in the country.  Digital divide continues to be one of the issues that hinders in achieving sustainability and is particularly tackled under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, reducing inequalities.

Figure 1. SMoSiS Mechanical Layout

The DOST - Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) developed its project entitled Spectrum Monitoring from Space with i-SEEP (SMoSiS). SMoSiS provides mapped data from radio frequency (RF) spectrum, acquired from various transmitters on earth.  This mapped data is acquired from a payload setup which consists of space-grade spectrum analyzer and wideband high gain antenna, that follows the International Space Station (ISS) as it orbits above it. A spectrum scan is performed across a coverage area on the Earth’s surface. After data compression, spectrum data collected is estimated to be at around 235 MB per day or around 86 GB per year.

Through analysis, a global “heat map” is derived showing the spatio-temporal level and variation of the radio frequency spectrum.  The raw and processed data at the ground segment are shared either to the general public and interested groups via a web portal or an application programming interface (API) that focuses on research and policy formulation of radio frequency spectrum analysis. This data is primarily used to correlate heat maps to night lights, economic activity, household income, and monitoring unserved and underserved populations. These correlations are vital in generating solutions to reduce inequalities in the mapped locations.

Figure 2. SMoSiS Concept of Operations

 

In relation to the project name SMoSiS, the project aims to be the first step to having an “osmosis” of opportunities for the underprivileged, especially in remote communities. In proposing evidence-based policies to the government for a responsive regulation, the data from spectrum measurements can improve the access of wireless communications in the urban and rural areas. Furthermore, spectrum data can help in restoration of wireless services through detection techniques from before and after impacts of natural disasters in an area. Also, detecting the RF signals, as information of the connectivity level in a specific location, contributes to understanding why the “digital divide” still exists. 

 

The Research Team

Mar Francis D. De Guzman
Solutions and Services Engineering Division
Advanced Science and Technology Institute,
Department of Science and Technology

Calvin Artemies G. Hilario
Solutions and Services Engineering Division
Advanced Science and Technology Institute,
Department of Science and Technology

Genedyn Gems S. Mendoza
Research and Development Division
Advanced Science and Technology Institute,
Department of Science and Technology

Joseph Joel S. Marciano, Jr.
Philippine Space Agency