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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Merrick’s Quality Control module automates compliance for LiDAR point cloud datasets

March 5th, 2013 by Susan Smith

Bill Emison, senior account manager for Geospatial Solutions at Merrick & Company, talked about their new QC module in Version 7.1 MARS (Advanced Remote Sensing Software).

Airborne LiDAR – urban area

Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing (MARS software suite is a comprehensive, production-grade Windows application designed to visualize, manage, process and analyze LiDAR point cloud data.

The Quality Control module is designed to provide an automated tool for verifying compliance of a LiDAR point cloud dataset to the LiDAR Base Specification Version 1.0 from the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey). The application sits on top of MARS as an extension.

“As a data vendor there have been many contracts where we’ve had to comply to those specs, and in an effort to do that effectively, we started to build tools two-three years ago,” said Emison. “We competely automated the entire specs. Our goal is to deliver data one time and not have to do rework, it was important to identify issues before the dataset went out the door.”

“The clients struggle with handling large deliverables and they don’t have any way to check other vendors’ works,” said Emison. “We’ve begun to sell the QC module commercially. It helps them identify issues before they become issues. They can focus their energy on fixing data.”

Mostly government contractors and larger consortium groups are customers for this product. For these companies and contractors there is so much data they are really buried in it, they don’t know how to look for a problem or where to look for it. This helps them focus the resources on it.

The user sets a pointer or path to the different datasets. They are loading different data inputs. Once those are pathed and point to the right datasets, the user has the choice of what they want to run in terms of data checks. In the USGS data checks there are about 29 QC checks.

The tools are already built in MARS and the QC module just leverages them in an automated way. The software makes separate reports – a summary report and produces a detailed report, so it will report on every single file that the user asks it to review. “Our approach is different in that it’s checking every point in every file,” Emison said.

“What we’ve seen in the industry is other QC products will take a sampling approach, however we felt that approach wasn’t consistent with our ability to automate,” Emison reported. “Our goal up front was to check everything, using the software.  The other benefit is it’s a multithreaded app for our basic MARS Explorer (MARSEXPL) which is required for operation. With QC the user can use up to four CPUs on their workstation, and it helps data process and performance and helps get through data quicker.”

The QC Module is included in the MARS Production product (MARSPROD) for no additional charge.

“One of our guys ran a whole county and the county ran for 30-31 hours,” Emison said.  “It’s not super quick because there is a lot of computation involved. 31 hours of machine time is a lot cheaper than human time. We don’t believe a manual reviewer can review as much data as we can in an automated session.”

The Version 7.1 Explorer QC is $9,995 for one software license. Upgrading from a MARS Explorer license runs $5,000 per license. The price includes technical support and product maintenance for one year from the date of initial application operation.

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Category: remote sensing

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