In April of 2018, Humboldt County hired the San Francisco satellite imaging and analytics start-up Planet. That marked the end of illegal grows in the remote county being tracked down by a small posse of county law-enforcers.

  • By 2018’s end the county had issued nearly 700 citations. The previous year there had been less than 100. This huge jump resulted from the precise nature of Planet‘s satellite images and Humboldt leaving behind complaint-driven enforcement.. 
  • County officials receive images from Planet. “We take the imagery, and we digitize it,” says Bob Russell, deputy director of the county’s Planning and Building Department. “Then we combine it with other data sets from our permitting software and other databases that we have, and we create overlays.”
  • Founded by three former NASA scientists, Planet specializes in cost-effective, ultra-compact satellites—small enough to piggyback on rockets. They can be easily de-orbited and replaced.