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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 »

Textron Systems Addresses Today’s Over-Abundance of Imagery

April 29th, 2016 by Susan Smith

Daryl Madden, senior vice president and general manager, Advanced Information Solutions and Geospatial Solutions at Textron Systems Geospatial Solutions of Sterling, Va. spoke with GISCafe Voice about the $13 million corporation’s commercial off-the-shelf products.

multispectralTheir flagship product is called RemoteView, a software application that imagery analysts use for the import, viewing, analysis, exploitation and reporting of remote sensing data including large imagery, elevation and vector data. “Basically it is used to look at any remote sensing data, but primarily at imagery that came from satellites or aircrafts, or national or commercial data,” said Madden. “A series of tools we’ve developed since the 1980s has grown into a suite of tools that an imagery analyst uses. It’s a tool designed by analysts and built by software engineers.”

Product releases are dictated by what users want, so every six months to a year a new release will contain the top 10 features users want in a new release.  The releases also include latest standards.

RemoteView emerged from the electronic light table industry and is primary in the intelligence community. Also full motion video in the form of V-TRAC is used to handle large amounts of imagery very quickly to allow the user to manipulate the image — to roam, zoom, pan, as well as to display the image as accurately as possible. There is a softcopy image processing capability that an imagery analyst can use to determine how that image plane maps to the earth.

“To get the best accurate image possible, a lot of times you need the elevation data, we have image and elevation data, and we can put together the 3D perspective of what that looks like,” said Madden. “We added a 3D Pro package, and we included the 3D flythrough with RemoteView and the analyst wanted to be able to create models on top of this, and create a scene of what an area looks like.”

One of the functions Imagery Analyst does is a soft copy search, so they have to search through a whole image looking for something. They may have to stitch together images because the part they’re looking for may be on a corner. For this Geospatial Solutions has a package called Virtual Mosaic.

Over the last few years there have been a series of aperture radar satellites going up. To address that, Textron Systems has added a package called RVSAR. In the business model, there is core RemoteView, but there are other features for those who need them. RemoteView is traditionally delivered as a client, with a licensed key, but it’s of no use unless you have imagery.

GeoCatalog is another package for the imagery analyst to connect to a large database of imagery and pull it into RemoteView and display. “Sometimes that can take a while to download and they can put it on their network drive or C drive,” said Madden.

GeoCatalog allows users to create a little catalog that stores all their geospatial data in a catalog that is kept on their local drive. “I find everything I have on my C drive, that has imagery, shapefiles, elevation data, full motion video, and pull it into a local catalog to find what I need quickly and connect that to RemoteView,” said Madden.

“For example, if I have an image of a month ago and today, I click on that and do a side by side comparison in RemoteView.”  People like the GeoCatalog so much and wanted a server version so Textron created a GeoCatalog Server.

Madden said Textron Systems have probably over 14,000 licenses of their products used around the world. When everything went cloud-based, they had to ask themselves how to best make use of the cloud for their application and not just make it a buzz word, but to break it down into the features that the cloud helps with.

“So the first thing we did is create a web application of RemoteView and we call it RVcloud that was released last year,” explained Madden. “the product is based upon the tenets of what we do well, displaying imagery well, manipulating it correctly and making it as accurate as possible. GeoCatalog has two pieces: the back end infrastructure that has all the data and management tools, and the front end, what we call GeoCatalog Discover, we have that as a web application to allow you to find all the different data that’s in the catalog.”

“We have a wealth of technology in RemoteView that we’ve built up over the years, and we are re-componentizing that into what we call Web Geospatial Cloud Services.”  This application for a web service will take an image and rectify it, or one that will reduce resolution datasets, that pyramid of files that allow you to scale the image very quickly.

Textron Systems has had a long relationship with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and just ended last year a five-year CRADA with Innovision. This month they signed a new 5-year CRADA That last CRADA was centered around products working within a region and comparing it with other ones. Innovision and NGA will have some internal projects going on and they’ll want to have an application connect with RemoteView.

“For this we have a very powerful SDK with RemoteView which basically can control anything in RemoteView externally, so we work with a number of vendors and NGA partners within Innovision to add their features on top of RemoteView,” said Madden. “They don’t want to spend all the time we do reading in the images, going through the certification process, reading and processing all the metadata, they want the image pixels, and add capability on top of RemoteView.”

This new CRADA, is focused more along NGA Director Robert Cardillo’s cloud-based initiatives, looking at how we can move to more activity based intelligence or object based production, or structured observation type systems.

Director Cardillo said that we will be inundated with imagery data, and so the question going forward when developing features is: how do we automate the mundane so we can do the things we do well?

New future products will involve feature detection, and dealing with interfaces with small sats, and companies such as PlanetLabs and DocSky, and certainly, much more.

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