The Economic Value of Earth Observation from Space (2010)


In Australia over 90 government programmes depend on Earth Observing Systems (EOS) to a greater or lesser degree. Surveyors, farmers, miners, insurers, fishers, engineers, and other commercial users are also increasingly using EOS to pursue their business objectives. The EOS sector’s direct contribution to Australian GDP is estimated at AUD 1.4 billion in 2008-09. This includes imagery, technology and a significant amount of skilled labour. In addition, it is estimated that EOS related productivity benefits were worth AUD 1.9 billion to the Australian economy in 2008-09. Taking these two impacts together, the minimum economic impact of EOS in 2008-09 is estimated to be AUD 3.3 billion.

Geographical scope


Non-quantified impacts

On conservative growth assumptions, the annual contribution to GDP of EOS is estimated to reach around AUD 4 billion by 2015. Benefits to climate change, natural resources management and emergency management are also expected to grow, however the value of AUD 1 billion is considered to remain appropriate as a reference value. There will be addition benefits accruing to Australia’s defence and national security. These have not been estimated.

Reference cost or benefit estimates (based on NASA estimates, Ackerman and Stanton (2008) and Australian Treasury modelling) is AUD 30 billion.

Future expenditure by government on EOS services has not been estimated. However, ACIL Tasman considers that it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the productivity related impacts on GDP and the other benefits could increase by around 30 per cent by 2015. This would mean that:

Quantifiable impacts

  • contribution to GDP could grow from AUD 3.3 billion to around AUD 4 billion by 2015
  • additional benefits in climate change adaptation, natural resource management and emergency response could increase as well but the study’s reference figure of AUD 1 billion will probably remain the appropriate reference figure for the next 3-5 years as it is based on a broad range of estimates
  • additional value in national security will also accrue but has not been estimated



Study type

Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model

Economy sector

Infrastructure (Energy), Disaster Risk Management, Retail, Insurance, Real Estate and Land Administration, Public Sector Local Government, Public Sector Central Government, Environment, Agriculture