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LI, AI and satellite 'space tech' to help cap insurer exposure

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The convergence of location intelligence (LI), artificial intelligence (AI) and improved satellite technology, known collectively as “space tech”, is opening new opportunities in insurance and other industries such as logistics and agriculture.

LI – the process of overlaying data points onto maps to generate insights – and AI can also help monitor deforestation and counter the effects of global warming and predict the behaviour of bushfires, enabling firefighters to pre-empt and use resources more effectively and make better-informed decisions.

Ernst & Young Managing Partner Data & Analytics Cameron Wall says space tech promises to fast-track insurance claims and maintain physical infrastructure. It is already used by meteorologists to generate weather forecasts.

Space tech can automate the claim verification process after natural disasters or other major events, Mr Wall says. Valid claims can then be fast-tracked while potential fraud instances – a high risk when assessing remote and complex claims – can be flagged for further investigation.

A similar approach could predict the scale of losses before a disaster strikes, allowing insurance companies to give pre-emptive advice and limit their exposure.

“Despite the clear business benefits of space tech, enterprise adoption remains relatively low,” Mr Wall said. “Organisations may be aware of all three elements in isolation but may not appreciate the power of combined insights.”

Low earth-orbit satellites can currently scan the entire globe daily and EY says it is conceivable that high-definition, real-time earth observation data will be available to insurers in the not-too distant future.

Google Maps is an example of a consumer-facing LI solution boosted by complex AI algorithms which can analyse, identify and extrapolate patterns in big data within seconds, and satellite technology which monitors the planet. Google Maps uses AI to predict journey times by overlaying variables, such as traffic density, roadworks and diversions.

Modern observation satellites have sensors that map topography, measure the earth’s surface temperature, monitor movement such as maritime vessels and road vehicles. EY teams are using space tech to help an Australian train operator overcome the challenge of tracks that buckle in the heat of the outback, and have developed an AI algorithm harnessing satellite data to prioritise track maintenance.

“The rewards from adopting these technologies can be truly significant. Working with a partner which already has the right AI controls and governance in place from the outset is a solution that many early adopters are using,” Mr Wall said.