The attendance records at the most recent Presidential inaugurations remain a source of great debate and contention.
44th President Barack Obama’s bustling inauguration in 2009 compared to 45th President Donald Trump’s sparce crowd in 2017 was most vividly portrayed with satellite imagery from space. More than 1.8 million people were at Obama’s first inauguration. By contrast, Trump’s was estimated to have drawn below 900,000 supporters to the nation’s capital.
As the world now turns their attention to 46th President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the attendance will almost certainly be at an all-time low, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In keeping with tradition, the 59th inauguration will be held on Wednesday January 20, in Washington DC. However, organisers are scaling back the entire event to make it ‘Covid-safe’. Public health measures including mask-wearing, temperature checks and social distancing will be mandatory with limited numbers permissible to attend.
Therefore, many would-be attendees will have no opportunity to snap photos and selfies from Capitol Hill.
This has not prevented spelfie – the space selfie, however, from giving everyone a chance of having their own selfie at the inauguration, albeit from 430 miles above Earth and from their own homes, (globally). spelfie has tasked a satellite to capture images from space of the Presidential Inauguration and pairing them with social media users across the world who want to be part of the celebrations, yet are adhering to social distancing by staying at home and avoiding gatherings.
“Everyone in the world will be able to be in the room where it happens, despite being in their living rooms,” explained spelfie Founder Chris Newlands. “They will receive their selfie alongside (real-time) satellite imagery as it appears from space with an ‘astronauts eye view’ of the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument toward the Capitol building, where the inaugural ceremony will be held, swearing in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.”
Real-time satellite images of the inauguration will be taken courtesy of cameras aboard Airbus Earth-observation satellites and will then be optimised for social sharing using Microsoft technology, ensuring up to 1.2million images can be shared every minute to the potentially millions of people ‘attending’ the inauguration with their personalised, socially distanced space selfie. The spelfie app has been made free for users across the world to participate in the first socially distanced US Presidential Inauguration.
“We know that coronavirus is precluding the large attendances normally afforded to Presidential Inaugurations, therefore, we are offering people a new perspective and we would love for the 59th Inauguration to be the most ‘remotely attended’ in history,” added Newlands.
The spelfie event has also received support from BritishAmerican Business (BAB), the leading transatlantic trade association incorporating the American Chamber of Commerce in the UK, and the British-American Chamber of Commerce in New York. CEO Duncan Edwards added:
“Stories such as these are a testament to the pioneering innovation of Britain’s small businesses, and the opportunities that the transatlantic relationship can offer them.
“For the millions of Americans at home, but also in Britain and across the world who will not be able to attend this year’s inauguration in person, we are delighted to see a solution powered by British innovation and transatlantic co-operation.
“BAB is looking forward to participating alongside our members on both sides of the Atlantic, and those around the world who will be joining the inauguration from the comfort of their homes.”
“By using space technology and state-of-the-art satellite imagery from AIRBUS, our gift to the world is to bring people together remotely wherever they are so that they can participate safely on the day for this epic global space selfie experience,” summarised Newlands.
The spelfie app has been made free for all users across the world specifically for the world’s first socially distanced Presidential Inauguration. spelfie’s are shareable to any social media platform. Users have a 24hour window to participate from 12:01 EST.