Piet Hein Goossens

Piet Hein Goossens

Vice President Consulting Insurance

Ditte Trojaborg

Ditte Trojaborg

Earth Observation Engineer

For full English version - see below

In de huidige crisis wordt de tuinbouwsector hard getroffen. We lezen en zien dat gewassen en bloemen in de shredder worden gegooid, omdat de vraag naar deze producten enorm is gedaald. Tegelijkertijd probeert de verzekeringssector hun zakelijke klanten te helpen om overeind te blijven en de pijn te verzachten.

Een voorbeeld uit de verzekeringssector om tuinders te helpen, is het monitoren van kassen met behulp van Aardobservatie, een nieuwe dienst van een Nederlandse verzekeraar. Samen met tuinders en verzekeraars zijn we een reis begonnen om waarde toe te voegen voor de klant. Hierbij zijn we niet over één nacht ijs gegaan: we hebben nauw samengewerkt om elkaars doelen en pijnpunten te begrijpen. Daarmee zijn we begonnen met een proof of concept. Het resultaat is een dienst waarmee het verlies van gewassen wordt voorkomen: de Greenhouse Early Warning Service. In deze blog vertellen Piet Hein Goossens en Ditte Trojaborg hoe CGI hiermee verzekeraars kan helpen vanuit de ruimte.


Insurers helping from Space

During the current crisis, horticulture is an industry that is getting hit very hard. We read and see about crops and flowers being thrown in the shredder, because the market has dropped to almost zero. On the other hand, the insurance industry is trying to help their clients to stay in business and to ease the pain.

One example of the insurance industry helping horticulturists is monitoring greenhouses with the use of Earth Observation, a new service delivered by a Dutch insurer. Risk assessment is done remotely which helps the horticulturists with business continuity.

Helping from Space

In challenging times as we’re facing today it becomes even more important to ensure business continuity by avoiding unforeseen costs and retaining a strong position in the market. While many risk factors are out of our control, state-of-the-art asset management solutions can provide valuable insights into business operations, helping to identify potential issues that need closer monitoring or are at risk of increasing costs or reducing yield. 

There is currently a rise in innovative Earth Observation (EO) applications for assets management solutions, especially supported by the Copernicus program by ESA.

EO is the science of using space data from satellites to monitor large areas or buildings consistently over time. EO satellites take images of the Earth at repeating intervals – complex images created by capturing all visible colors , as well as infrared and radar signals from the surface.

So how can colors, infrared and radar signals be useful to the day-to-day business operations of greenhouse owners? By applying state-of-the-art algorithms, these complex images can be turned into detailed information about the performance of different components of a greenhouse.

Data scientists are developing algorithms for detecting subsidence of greenhouse walls and floors using radar signals and for monitoring temperature distribution of greenhouse departments using thermal infrared signals. This means that without any manual effort, continuous monitoring of the greenhouse is possible  by using space data. This will provide greenhouse owners with information about potential damage or potentially low yields caused by sinking soil. Even potentially higher energy bills caused by poor temperature distribution can maybe be predicted.

A new service

This new service in The Netherlands is to address the challenges faced by greenhouse owners, clients of the insurer. Preventing loss is of interesting of both parties. The first two sub-services includes Subsidence Monitoring and Temperature Distribution Monitoring. The service is designed as a fully digital and customizable notification service, which allows greenhouse owners to mitigate or even prevent risks and thereby save time and costs without any manual inspections needed.

The service implements innovative EO technology, which is currently experiencing a boost in applications and development. This means that the future holds many opportunities for EO-based asset management solutions. The service is fully scalable to national and even potentially international applications. Next to that, it is able to include additional data sources and state-of-the-art algorithms based on the newest technology available.

The service is just one example of using EO data in the insurance industry. Many other applications could be developed.

Insurers are looking for new data sources

The Insurance industry has already been using data for a very long time to assess the (underwriting) risk . This was mainly about internal data, the policy and claims data. Based on descriptive analytics, correlations are found between the insured object, the insured and the claims. E.g. the more rooms a house has, the bigger the risk is for a fire insurance.

With the rise of data itself, all insurers are now searching for new sources of data that can help them to give extra insight in the risk. How many hospitals and bars are nearby the insured house? This knowledge can be very valuable in case of a fire insurance. A lot of this data is easily available and can add extra insights in the underwriting risk. According to the 2020 CGI Client Global Insights "Derive value from data to improve underwriting and customer evaluation" is a top business priority for the insurance industry. 

Now, EO data is becoming an affordable source that has almost unlimited applications and still is rather unknown. A lot of satellites are up in the sky and most of these generate data that is available for insurers. Some of the data streams are free to use, some of them are commercialized. Some use sunlight as energy source, some use radar. There is a lot of variety in the streams and choosing the right streams with the right algorithm is key to help you to succeed your business goal.

Adding value to the customer

Making use of Earth Observation data starts with a clear business goal in mind. What problem do you want to solve or which opportunity do you want to seize? This is not always as simple as it sounds. We humans tend to keep within our current way of working instead of broaden our view to see the real potential of new opportunities. The same applies to using Earth Observation. When discussing this subject for a first time only optimizing current processes come to mind, e.g. optimizing the claims process with extra (earth observation) insight prior and post an occurrence. When working together in a multi-disciplinary team real new ideas and added value are created.

Another outcome of the CGI Client Global Insights 2019-2020 was the top Industry Trend “Extension of the industry value chain". Insurers are seeking for ways to become more relevant for their customers. As insurance has become a commodity that is almost solely price driven, new added value to the customer is key.

CGI developed the Greenhouse Early Warning System. With the Greenhouse Early Warning Service, we started the journey by wanting to add value for the customer. We worked together with horticulturists and the insurer to find new ways of adding value. We didn’t find it in one brainstorm session. We worked closely together to understand each other’s goals and pain points. Using those we started with a proof of concept. Some ideas didn’t succeed, some did. The outcome was a service that helps preventing loss of crop and therefor helping the horticulturist in doing their business.

This approach can be copied to other parts of the insurance industry as well. In our next blog we’ll go into this subject.

Over deze auteurs

Piet Hein Goossens

Piet Hein Goossens

Vice President Consulting Insurance

Over Piet Hein Goossens Als Vice President Consulting en thought leader op het gebied van Data Driven Insurance, werkt Piet Hein samen met verzekeringsmaatschappijen aan het ontwikkelen en implementeren van effectieve Rating- en Pricing-strategieën en -oplossingen. Verzekeren verandert met de snelheid van het internet. ...

Ditte Trojaborg

Ditte Trojaborg

Earth Observation Engineer

Ditte is part of the Space Data Applications team within the CGI Space Unit. The team focuses on bringing Earth Observation based services to clients, enabling them to implement state-of-the-art digital solutions using space data.