"A picture paints a thousand words" is an old saying from journalism.
But you be the judge. Could an article capture the America's Cup fever as clearly and efficiently as this one shot of the action?
This is a single satellite photo showing hundreds of spectator boats encircling the racecourse to witness every thrill and spill during Race 8. The bird's eye view captures the size of the crowd, as well as the essence of the excitement.
Now, imagine being able to use images like these not only to highlight a New Zealand sporting victory, but also to help conserve and guard New Zealand's precious resources.
That's a long-term win for our country.
New Zealand has some of the longest coastlines of any nation, and the responsibility of guarding one of the largest Economic Exclusionary Zones (EEZs) in the world.
We have an opportunity to use homegrown high-tech methods to secure our economic interests, preserve our resources and protect our personal safety.
With world-leading technology that our team at Xerra has developed, we can now use satellite data, paired with applied machine learning, to spot illegal fishing, drug smuggling and even Covid-19 border breaches.
Just as the victorious Team New Zealand deployed leading-edge technology and data analysis to claim their America's Cup win, Xerra's innovation and data-fusion technology could put New Zealand at the global leading edge of maritime security.
New Zealand has already attracted worldwide attention because of RocketLab, the brainchild of a Kiwi who is now launching rockets from our shores. Xerra, a technology startup in a rapidly changing global space, has innovative talent that can once again help our country punch above its weight.
Our researchers and designers have taken another step into space, using the data provided by the unprecedented number of satellites in orbit to create a product that can monitor our water, preserve our fisheries and even help protect our population during a pandemic.
Xerra was established as a Regional Research Institute in 2017. Based in Central Otago, we have a distributed remote workforce, providing high-paying jobs all across New Zealand.
Our growth potential is promising: we've worked hard to identify potential markets and also offer land-based remote sensing, data fusion and analysis. However, as New Zealand is an island nation, we have identified maritime security as one area crucial to the overall success and prosperity of New Zealand Inc.
That's why we are launching a new technology platform called Starboard, which we believe is a missing link in New Zealand's ability to protect our EEZ.
Starboard can generate pictures like the one showing spectator boats in Auckland harbour watching the America's Cup.
But more importantly, the data fused from multiple sources can be used to provide insights into the essence of maritime activity in waters New Zealand is responsible for guarding: detecting patterns that could help intercept illegal or unethical activity at sea; assessing the Covid-19 risk on board vessels in New Zealand waters; and even identifying onboard biosecurity threats, such as the brown marmorated stink bugs which vessels may bring in unknowingly.
It's not just about watching the waters that surround New Zealand, but also about monitoring our rivers and lakes. Being a long, skinny nation with challenging terrain and a scattered population does not lend itself to easy monitoring of our fresh water – an issue dear to New Zealanders' hearts.
Xerra's technology can easily be used to do this, providing invaluable information to our local councils and government to help protect our taonga, our earthly assets.
Clearly, it's a challenging time to be in business, as we all grapple with Covid-19. The global reminder of our fragility that the pandemic has provided, however, is also an opportunity to act - to use every tool and technological innovation we can to protect our maritime and terrestrial assets.
Xerra is essentially Phase Two of New Zealand's foray into the space industry.
Now that we have hardware in space, satellites sending data back to Earth, we need advanced tools to assess and analyse that information. Xerra has designed a high-tech system using AI and algorithms to bring different layers of data together – from aircraft, drones, and even remote sensors to name just a few – to make sense of raw images and information. It's only when you use information in this way that the power of satellites is truly harnessed.
In Starboard, New Zealand now has a platform that could help preserve our resources, maintain the integrity of our borders, and keep out potential threats: from illegal fishing to maritime-borne pests that could put our horticulture, forestry, and wine industries at risk.
Xerra appreciates the trust that the government has invested in us. Starboard is a product that was built with the generosity of funding from New Zealand taxpayers. Our government can now ensure taxpayers get the most from their investment by utilising what could be an all-of-government tool that ensures everyone is seeing the same thing at the same time, making sure critical information is high tech and no longer siloed.
Xerra may be the new kid on the block, but our homegrown and cutting-edge platform has been tested and offers the best value for money. It's time to press play.
This is technology developed right here in New Zealand, that can be applied globally.
It can tackle local problems, but also offers solutions that could appeal to a global market. Our weightless export will help build our emerging space economy. We look forward to partnering with government, as well as others in the space industry.
Kiwi ingenuity is critical for the success of New Zealand Inc, as well as our team of five million. It can also chart a course that can help protect our country far into the future, and fulfil our responsibility to ensure kaitiakitanga.
• Steve Cotter is the chief executive of Xerra