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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 »

New Green GIS Initiative from Intergraph Announced at INTERGEO

September 22nd, 2015 by Susan Smith

Dr. Matthias Alisch, senior marketing manager, EMEA Intergraph Security, Government & Infrastructure (SG&I) spoke about the company’s new Green GIS Initiative in Europe which offers a more energy-efficient and climate-friendly IT process. The new Initiative was announced at INTERGEO last week in Stuttgart, Germany.


Intergraph’s Green GIS Initiative is designed to reduce storage requirements and energy costs, and make data centers more efficient and environmentally friendly. The combination of their patented ECW (Enhanced Compressed Wavelet) data compression format, and the new version of the ERDAS APOLLO application, Intergraph and its Hexagon Geospatial software offer a package that is said to drastically reduces the volume of raster data and point clouds. This leads to a lower demand on storage capacity as well as associated operating and cooling power requirements.

GISCafe Voice: You have had ECW data compression for a long time. Is this Green GIS Initiative a new idea to showcase the existing value of ECW or have you done something different with ECW recently?

Dr. Matthias Alisch: There were improvements in the ECW Plug-In for competitor solutions like ECW Plug-In for ArcGIS. However, the most outstanding thing in ECW V3 is the possibility of incrementally update the ECW file; thus dramatically reduces the computational effort for keeping the ECW up-to-date; and this perfectly fits to our approach to lower carbon emissions of the IT processes of our customers.

GISCafe Voice:  Do you have other examples of shrinking datasets such as the complete aerial image dataset of Germany to 5 percent its original size? This is quite a substantial savings!

Dr. Matthias Alisch: There are other substantial benefits as well, e.g. shrinking the aerial pictures covering South Africa. The Amazon Cloud Storage Service S3 shows that for 71 terabytes of image data at tile cache level 19 and 30 centimetres tile width costs are lower by 98 percent by employing ECW compression. Savings of more than 4,000 Euros monthly and up to 65,000 Euros per annum can be calculated for cloud server utilisation. However, the outstanding element for Germany is the ground resolution, as this dramatically increases the need (and of course storage footprint) for the depth and levels of the picture pyramid in the traditional technology.

GISCafe Voice: In what way will Intergraph be able to diminish the carbon footprint of spatial data with ERDAS APOLLO?

Dr. Matthias Alisch: ERDAS APOLLO supports that activity for raster data and point clouds by three main elements: minimizing the demands on storage capacity; load balancing the computational effort between a minimized set of servers and a maximized set of clients; reducing bandwidth requirements by streaming only the demanded data to the client instead of the whole dataset for instance of point clouds in traditional approaches.

GISCafe Voice: It looks as though this initiative means that Intergraph will be relying more on the cloud. How will you be able to use Green IT for those customers who do not want to use the cloud?
Dr. Matthias Alisch: The approach is exactly the same for cloud as well as for on premise infrastructures.

GISCafe Voice: It sounds as though you don’t believe cost and carbon savings can be had on the hardware side. Can you explain that further?

Dr. Matthias Alisch: It is crystal clear that on the hardware side, the percentage of getting better and enabling sustainable improvements becomes more complicated as the hardware has already reached a highly optimized level. So the easiest way of getting quite easily better results is to promote software which operates as cost and resource efficient as possible to simply minimize the demanded hardware.

GISCafe Voice: Is there any concern about degradation of data such as point clouds, and other big Is data coming from sources such as satellites and drones? How does ECW address those concerns?

Dr. Matthias Alisch: As stated, degrading and streaming point clouds is already in the scope with excellent results as well. Big data of drones and micro satellites makes the necessity of acting green even more viral; it is on the horizon and we have to start responding today in order to have the answers to the themes of crucial importance to the future of our society.

Regarding the Wichmann Innovations Award 2015, on Thursday Sept 17th Intergraph SG&I has achieved the second place; winner is Leica Geosystems, our sister company within the worldwide Hexagon group.

Further information relating to Green IT, Green GIS and the carbon footprint initiative can be found at Green GIS.

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Categories: 3D Cities, asset management, Big Data, crowd source, data, emergency response, geospatial, GIS, handhelds, hardware, Hexagon, image-delivery software, indoor location technology, integrated GIS solutions, Intergraph, LBS, Leica Geosystems, location intelligence

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