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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 »

From the Highest Mountaintop to the Arabian Desert with Geospatial

October 26th, 2017 by Susan Smith

While a large percentage of the civilized world has been mapped, the world’s mountains have not been among those areas to be mapped as they most often located in remote landscapes. Now available from the USGS is a new web based browsing tool that gives users the most detailed view yet of the world’s mountains, that can be viewed on a cellphone or desktop computer.

An example display from the Global Mountain Explorer tool showing a map of mountains on top of a satellite image background.  (Public domain.)

The Global Mountain Explorer (GME) will be of interest to many: hikers, scientists, resource managers and policy makers – anyone seeking information that is often sparse in these prominent yet often understudied landscapes. Mountains occupy anywhere from 12 to 31 percent of the land surface of the Earth, according to the press materials, but despite their importance, surprisingly few attempts have been made to scientifically define and map these regions worldwide with detail.

Anyone with access to the internet can explore where mountains are, their height, range, and whether they are snow-covered or not.

USGS ecosystems geographer Roger Sayre, who led the project, said, “Mountain Explorer users can visualize and compare in one place and for the first time the three major global mountain maps that have been produced.”

Now the details of mountains can be enjoyed with Mountain Explorer. We are dependent on mountains for water, timber, mineral resources, and food, fiber and fuel products. Wildlife make their homes in mountainous areas. With Mountain Explorer perhaps we will have the ability to track the natural hazards prevalent in mountains.

The Global Mountain Explorer provides information from global scales down to specific mountains, such as Borah Peak, Idaho pictured above. (Public domain.)

According to USGS materials, the USGS developed the Global Mountain Explorer, in partnership with ESRI, and three organizations at the University of Bern in Switzerland – the Center for Development and Environment, the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment, and the Mountain Research Initiative. The tool was developed as part of a Group on Earth Observations initiative to accurately delineate mountain regions using best available data. It is intended to provide information on the global distribution and a variety of mountain data with a resolution 16 times more detailed than previous mapping efforts.

To use it, users can select an area by zooming in or by typing a place name like Mount Everest to view its elevation and type. They can also select from a number of backdrops — such as satellite images, topographic maps or political boundary maps — on which to display the different types of mountain classes. A tutorial showing the full features for the Global Map Explorer is available here

 Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Geospatial Intelligence

Monday, November 13th, an event entitled Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Workshop will be held during USGIFs GEOINT Community Week at NGA Campus East, Springfield, Virginia, from 8:45 a.m. – 1700.

The event will include government, industry and academia speakers discussing issues and initiatives related to the roles of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, deep learning and machine learning in geospatial intelligence.

911 for Incident Management in Saudi Arabia

If you thought that 911 was an emergency number reserved for U.S. emergency response, it appears to have worldwide significance, or at least is significant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure’s Intergraph® Computer-Aided Dispatch (I/CAD) solution was deployed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior to ensure the safety of pilgrims and residents during the Hajj and Umrah seasons of 2016 and 2017.

The incident management system helps the ministry’s public safety and security agencies manage emergency calls for service using a single emergency number (911).

According to company materials, to improve security and safety for the citizens of Saudi Arabia, the ministry began working in 2015 to implement the Unified Security Operations Center (911) in Makkah, the first province-wide emergency call taking and dispatching system. To support this project, the ministry needed a scalable and reliable incident management system — one that was already proven in the field by many agencies and users.

The ministry selected Hexagon’s I/CAD suite, and the system was put into operation in the summer of 2016. The solution centralized the operation of more than 40 operation centers across the Makkah province into the Unified Security Operations Center (911), thus providing a comprehensive and centralized response system for the entire province, including the cities of Holy Makkah, Jeddah and Taif.

During common incidents and major events like Haij and Umrah, the solution has helped improve the police and civil defense response for citizens and pilgrims. The ministry’s personnel manage about 43,000 calls per day during Umrah season operations and about 61,000 during the Hajj, now through unified call handling for its Police Patrol, Traffic and Civil Defense sectors and the Road Security Special Forces,

The ministry plans to use this solution as a model for expansion of these 911 centers into other provinces.

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Categories: 9-1-1 GIS systems, analytics, Big Data, climate change, cloud, data, disaster relief, emergency response, geospatial, GIS, government, handhelds, Hexagon, Intergraph, lidar, location based services, location intelligence, mapping, mobile, resilient cities, satellite imagery, situational intelligence, small sats, spatial data

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