Orbital Insight CEO Jimmy Crawford has, quite literally, a bird's-eye view of the U.S. auto industry
Using satellite images as well as anonymous cellphone location data, Orbital Insight tracks a wide range of human behavior — including key economic indicators such as how many people report to work at auto plants.
"We can just look at the number of cars in the parking lot," he said.
This spring, when the industry entered an unprecedented shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, "there was just nobody there," Crawford said. "Just really skeleton crews."