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Posted on February 4th, 2020

Our Changing Landscape – 2019 Algerian Protests

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and is collecting hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 4-band 3-meter imagery daily! In last month’s edition of Our Changing Landscape we checked out flooding in a historic European city, and for February we travel across the Mediterranean with a look at the protests that rocked Algeria in 2019 with a focus on the capital, Algiers.

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over Algiers, Algeria on February 24, 2018, February 24, 2019, March 1, 2019 and March 15, 2019. First a note about the images, without going into a plethora of detail, you will see two slightly different extents in the four dates here; that is due to the two processing techniques used on the raw images we received – apologies for the hassle. Upon close inspection, you can see protests in the main avenues of downtown Algiers if you look closely and know where to look ahead of time. And there are clearly a plethora of changes around the town, particularly in the ports. But what we are learning quickly is that PlanetScope imagery is an excellent resource when you know where to look and what you are looking for. Generally speaking, 3-meter imagery can determine the presence of a feature on the ground but it has a much harder time showing the condition of this feature on the ground. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2020)

PlanetScope is a constellations of more than 150 microsats referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

2019 Political Protests in Algiers, Algeria

The massive North African nation of Algeria had been controlled by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika since 1999, however, coinciding roughly with the Arab Spring, protests over massive corruption and his regime in general sprang up in 2010, and slowly spread from Algiers. In 2019, these protests reached a crescendo when Bouteflika announced his candidacy for the next round of presidential elections on February 10th. A protest in Algiers on February 22nd drew an estimated crowd of 800,000 while more large-scale protests followed on the 24th (which is one of the dates we include in our PlanetScope animation here). March saw continued turmoil with a 3-million person protest on March 1st; only to be followed by another sprawling protest on Match 15th – both of these dates are also included in this month’s animation. While it is not the point of this article to recount the entirety of the 2019 Algerian protests, the months since March have seen Bouteflika resign from office, the Army’s general take power and then declare December elections which were won by former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune with 58% of the vote. It appears that the protests in Algeria have quieted since Tebboune took office and declare a war against corruption, but the powder keg could easily be ignited again if he does not live up to his anti-corruption stance. Without further delay, let’s turn our attention to the 3-meter PlanetScope archive which captured many of Algeria’s largest protests of 2019.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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