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Open-File Report 2011-1031

The Users, Uses, and Value of Landsat and Other Moderate-Resolution Satellite Imagery in the United States—Executive Report

By Holly M. Miller,1 Natalie R. Sexton,1 Lynne Koontz,1 John Loomis,2 Stephen R. Koontz,2 and Caroline Hermans3

1Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch, U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins, Colo.
2Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.
3The City University of New York, New York, N.Y.

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Moderate-resolution imagery (MRI), such as that provided by the Landsat satellites, provides unique spatial information for use by many people both within and outside of the United States (U.S.). However, exactly who these users are, how they use the imagery, and the value and benefits derived from the information are, to a large extent, unknown. To explore these issues, social scientists at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center conducted a study of U.S.-based MRI users from 2008 through 2010 in two parts: 1) a user identification and 2) a user survey. The objectives for this study were to: 1) identify and classify U.S.-based users of this imagery; 2) better understand how and why MRI, and specifically Landsat, is being used; and 3) qualitatively and quantitatively measure the value and societal benefits of MRI (focusing on Landsat specifically). The results of the survey revealed that respondents from multiple sectors use Landsat imagery in many different ways, as demonstrated by the breadth of project locations and scales, as well as application areas. The value of Landsat imagery to these users was demonstrated by the high importance placed on the imagery, the numerous benefits received from projects using Landsat imagery, the negative impacts if Landsat imagery was no longer available, and the substantial willingness to pay for replacement imagery in the event of a data gap. The survey collected information from users who are both part of and apart from the known user community. The diversity of the sample delivered results that provide a baseline of knowledge about the users, uses, and value of Landsat imagery. While the results supply a wealth of information on their own, they can also be built upon through further research to generate a more complete picture of the population of Landsat users as a whole.

First posted February 24, 2011

For additional information contact:

Center Director, USGS Fort Collins Science Center
2150 Centre Ave., Bldg. C
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8118

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Suggested citation:

Miller, H.M., Sexton, N.R., Koontz, Lynne, Loomis, John, Koontz, S.R., and Hermans, Caroline, 2011, The users, uses, and value of Landsat and other moderate-resolution satellite imagery in the United States—Executive report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1031, 42 p.



User Identification

User Survey



Statistical Significance and Interpretation

Response Rate

Diversity of the Sample

User Types


Use of Landsat Imagery

Types of Imagery

Scales and Locations of Projects

Application Areas

How Imagery is Used

Level of Landsat Use in Work

“Local Users”

Discussion: Use of Landsat Imagery

Changes in Use of Landsat Imagery over Time

Discussion: Change in Use of Landsat Over Time

Impacts of No Cost Data Policy

Discussion: Impacts of No Cost Data Policy

Value of Landsat Imagery

Importance and Satisfaction

Benefits of Landsat

If Landsat Imagery Was No Longer Available

Willingness to Pay for Landsat Imagery

Discussion: Value of Landsat Imagery





Appendix 1

Snowball Sampling

Snowball Sampling Process

Methodological Biases

Appendix 2

Users of Other Types of Satellite Imagery

Current Users of Other Types of MRI

Past Landsat Imagery Users

Non-MRI Users


Appendix 3

Double-Bounded WTP Analysis

Single-Bounded vs. Double-Bounded WTP Analyses

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