Aurora Insight: Mapping and Measuring the World’s Wireless Spectrum

When we think of limited resources, most of us picture tangible elements of our natural world. Water is a shared resource. No single person or entity owns it, but it’s important to know how this essential element, which guides our livelihood and economy, is being used. The more we know, the better we’ll be at ensuring these resources are optimally used for our shared future. 

Wireless spectrum is a natural resource available to us all too. It exists as an elemental phenomenon across our universe. There is an abundant though finite range of the electromagnetic spectrum across different wavelengths, including visible light and invisible radio waves, that we’ve discovered can be used to communicate wirelessly. 

Similarly to water, we must contemplate how we use spectrum. If too many applications use the same or adjacent portions of spectrum, its utility and effectiveness degrades for all applications and users. This invisible element that makes wireless connectivity a reality impacts us all as consumers, whether we realize it or not. It enables the use of Bluetooth, WiFi, smartphones, and long-range wireless communications.

In fact, there is no scenario in our future where we use spectrum less than we have since Heinrich Hertz transmitted the first artificial radio waves in the 1880s. However, unlike other natural resources, we have yet to develop ways to measure and map the radio spectrum, nor have we been able to capture the quickly evolving existence and ever-changing usage of wireless spectrum in a way that enables more efficient utilization of this precious resource. 

Aurora Insight Co-founders Brian Mengwasser, Jennifer Alvarez, and Gus Moore spent the past decade designing and building airborne platforms, sensor systems, and satellites for communications, which all depend on the radio spectrum. Together, they’ve engineered generations of communications systems.

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