For some years we've used satellite services like ESA MIRAVI and LANDSat to obtain near real-time still images, at modest resolution, in back country locations in southern BC. These can be most helpful, if they are current, in providing insight to remote access condition, snow extent, land movement, flood levels of rivers etc.
Frankly, the images just aren't that good, and often not current enough to provide meaningful data. All that is about to change
. A Vancouver company UrtheCast http://www.urthecast.com/
has developed extraordinary high Rez video/still cameras which are being attached to to the International Space Station this week. The cameras were designed and built by engineers in Vancouver and are being installed by Russian cosmonauts.
From what i'm told by guys close to the action, there will be readily available hi rez imagery in near real time, on both a free and subscription basis. I think their business model is more to extract revenue from space based recording of special events, for a fee. However, the samples I've seen promise wonderful things to those of us who need the odd update on backcountry conditions.
One big caveat ... the ISS only transects latitudes from -51.00 to 51.00 thus leaving out a lot of northern hemisphere.