Leveraging Satellite Data and Technology for a Sustainable Future

Leveraging satellite data and machine learning, Aquaconnect transforms aquaculture with real-time monitoring and predictive analytics.

Murugan Chidhambaram, Head of Digital Transformation at Aquaconnect, is a seasoned business leader with over two decades of experience in the Telecom and Aqua IT industries. His recent talk at the Data Engineering Summit 2024, India’s largest generative AI conference focused on data engineering innovation held in Bengaluru, was a testament to his commitment to simplifying complex technical concepts and leveraging technology to solve domain-specific operational challenges.

The Seafood Industry and the Role of Satellites

India stands as the second-largest seafood exporter globally, trailing only behind China. The country exports approximately 7.6 billion rupees worth of seafood annually, a statistic that underscores the significance of the aquaculture industry. Murugan emphasized that to support and enhance this sector, Aquaconnect has been utilizing satellite technology extensively.

Murugan posed an intriguing question to the audience: “How many satellites are watching us right now?” The answer, he revealed, is staggering—around 5,000 satellites are in orbit, with 2,800 from the United States and 124 from India. These satellites provide crucial data that can be scaled from a single village to the entire globe, making them indispensable for large-scale projects.

Aquaconnect employs specific satellites to gather data essential for aquaculture. These include open-source satellite images like Sentinel-2, which is commonly used for both aquaculture and agriculture-related activities. This data provides unparalleled advantages in terms of scalability and precision.

Implementing Satellite Technology in Aquaculture

Collecting data from India’s vast coastal areas is a monumental task, especially considering the country’s large population of aquaculture farmers. Murugan highlighted that Aquaconnect has a ground force of over 100 individuals who regularly meet with farmers to collect data. However, relying solely on manual data collection is neither scalable nor feasible given the sheer number of farmers—approximately 14.4 million direct and indirect employees in the aquaculture sector.

To overcome these challenges, Aquaconnect integrates satellite data with ground data collected via a mobile app. This combination allows for precise and large-scale data collection, enabling better decision-making and operational efficiency. The primary target areas for data collection include Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat.

Technological Innovations in Aquaculture

The aquaculture sector has traditionally lacked a structured data collection mechanism. Aquaconnect aims to fill this gap by implementing modern technologies to collect, analyze, and utilize data effectively. This approach not only benefits farmers but also middlemen, retailers, and government agencies, ensuring that data is accessible and usable for all stakeholders.

Murugan explained that Aquaconnect partners with retailers who already have relationships with farmers. This strategy allows for rapid scalability, as partnering with a retailer who interacts with 30-40 farmers is far more efficient than trying to engage each farmer individually. These partnerships also facilitate the distribution of essential supplies such as feed, materials, and chemicals, as well as the procurement of harvested seafood.

Aquaconnect’s innovative approach extends to financial assistance. By partnering with non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) like Cred, they provide farmers with necessary financial support. This includes offering credit cards and bulk purchasing options, which are crucial for managing the high-profit margins in aquaculture compared to traditional agriculture.

The Role of Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics

Aquaconnect’s data collection strategy involves merging satellite and ground data, which is then processed through machine learning algorithms. This process helps predict three critical factors: what to sell, where to sell, and how to maintain optimal inventory levels. This predictive capability ensures that Aquaconnect can target the right farmers with the right products at the right time.

One of the major challenges in aquaculture is market fluctuation. Murugan pointed out the need for a stable and predictable mechanism to manage supply and demand. By predicting harvest times and ensuring the availability of seafood that meets export quality standards, Aquaconnect can help stabilize market prices and ensure consistent supply.

Real-Time Culture Monitoring

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Real-time culture monitoring is another area where satellite technology plays a crucial role. By continuously collecting data, Aquaconnect can monitor the health and growth of aquaculture farms, making it easier to manage and predict outcomes. This real-time data is vital for scaling operations and ensuring consistent quality across different regions.

Expansion Plans

Currently, Aquaconnect operates in seven states, but the goal is to expand nationwide and eventually reach international markets. This ambitious expansion plan is supported by their scalable and efficient data collection and analysis framework.

Practical Applications and Government Collaboration

Centralized Dashboards and Strategic Decisions

Aquaconnect has developed centralized dashboards that provide comprehensive data views at national, state, district, and village levels. These dashboards are invaluable for government agencies to make informed policy decisions and for businesses to strategize their retail and supply chain operations.

Disease Monitoring and Prevention

Disease monitoring is critical in aquaculture, where a single outbreak can devastate entire crops. By predicting and preventing disease spread through real-time data and satellite imagery, Aquaconnect can help farmers avoid significant financial losses and maintain healthy aquaculture environments.

End-to-End Traceability

The Importance of Traceability

Traceability is a significant concern in the food industry, and aquaculture is no exception. Consumers and buyers increasingly demand transparency regarding the origin and handling of their food. Murugan highlighted the potential of end-to-end traceability, which allows buyers to know the exact source and treatment of their seafood.

Implementing Blockchain for Transparency

Aquaconnect is exploring the use of blockchain technology to enhance traceability. By integrating blockchain with satellite data, they aim to create a transparent and reliable traceability system. This system will provide detailed information about the seafood, including its origin, handling, and quality assurance processes.


Murugan Chidhambaram’s talk at the Data Engineering Summit 2024 showcased the transformative potential of satellite technology and data engineering in the aquaculture industry. By leveraging advanced technologies, Aquaconnect is addressing critical challenges, enhancing operational efficiency, and ensuring sustainable growth for the sector. The innovative approaches discussed, from predictive analytics to real-time monitoring and end-to-end traceability, highlight the future of aquaculture as a technologically driven industry capable of meeting global demands while maintaining high standards of quality and sustainability.

Transform your team into AI powerhouses

Targeted suite of solutions for enterprises aiming to harness the power of AI. MachineHack is your partner in building a future-ready workforce adept in artificial intelligence.

Online AI Hackathons to accelerate innovation

With MachineHack you can not only find qualified developers with hiring challenges but can also engage the developer community and your internal workforce by hosting hackathons.