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’ newsletters and blogs. She writes on a number of topics, including but not limited to geospatial, architecture, engineering and construction. As many technologies evolve and occasionally merge, Susan finds herself uniquely situated to be able to cover diverse topics with facility. « Less
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 »
Special GISCafe Coverage: Geospatial Data Providers and Services
May 24th, 2018 by Susan Smith
Data providers abound in the GIS and geospatial industry. Choices range from mapping, built and natural terrain modeling, survey, GIS/LIS technologies, geospatial web, and asset inventory, mapping, geodetic and engineering surveying, photogrammetry, satellite imagery and real-time satellite data, remote sensing, aerial and ground-based LiDAR surveys, geographic and land information systems (GIS/LIS), 3D scanning, and spatial computing and analysis and much more.
There are many free data and information sources for both spatial and geographic needs, from both the government and commercial sectors. Many data sources are available within minutes of making a request. Geospatial data can come in customizable forms as well as off-the-shelf and can be used for many purposes outside the GIS industry.
The goal is often to create and analyze data with specific intelligence that can then be used for the delivery of actionable information to solve real world problems and provide an accurate view of a critical situation or hotspot.
In 2015, the United Nations created the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to leverage a wide range of data, the preamble to the Agenda page reads as follows:
“This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.”
This is a broad and lofty goal but one highly dependent on geospatial and earth observation data, and the analytics that those require. While it will take many years to develop, in the meantime, technology will improve and expand into areas that may not yet have bandwidth and internet access to support them.
While many of the geospatial data providers featured in this article may work with the United Nations of their Agenda, other agencies are also nourished with data from these providers and enter into partnerships in order to provide additional data sources such as satellite imagery, remote sensing, 3D scanning, digital terrain modeling and much more.
From Pitney-Bowes (PB), comes this reply:
A vast array of global data sets for:
Along with software solutions for customer information management, customer engagement and location intelligence.
Nearmap offers high resolution aerial imagery with frequent updates. The imagery is all sub 3” GSD and includes vertical (top down), panorama (seamless wide area mosaic), oblique (measurable, angled perspective), digital surface models and 3D.
Nearmap delivers its imagery via an easy to use SaaS offering called MapBrowser or through APIs allowing organizations to embed imagery as a layer inside their purpose-built solutions.
Harris Geospatial provides the following: finished geospatial product, a custom mapping solution, data hosting, or data + analytics to support a project.
According to Sean Breyer, ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World Program Manager, Esri with its users are building the foremost collection of global geographic information, called the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. It includes maps, apps and layers for the GIS community coving areas of Base maps, Imagery, Boundaries, People, Infrastructure, and the Environment. Living Atlas contains over 6000 items and evolves every day with new and updated content.
European Space Imaging promotes itself as the leading supplier of optical very high-resolution satellite imagery to the European market. The company specializes in imagery at 30-50cm and operate their own multi-mission capable ground station in Munich (Germany) that allows for direct uplink and downlink to the DigitalGlobe WorldView satellites within their communication cone.
“Our point of difference is our flexibility and personalized direct satellite tasking,” says Adrian Zevenbergen, managing director of European Space Imaging. “Taking into account real-time weather assessments that are updated every 15 minutes, our expert staff optimize the collection plan for each satellite pass to ensure acquisition of the best image possible for our customers. We always guarantee 15% or less of cloud cover and the advantage of having our own ground station means that the imagery can be delivered in urgent cases in less than 45 minutes while the average delivery time is 24 hours.”
Atmospheric compensation mitigates the presence of haze and atmospheric effects on satellite imagery, thus increasing image clarity and ensuring spectral fidelity for accurate image analysis and information extraction.
CoreLogic is a real estate property data and analytics company. We offer insights about residential and commercial properties such as the risk of being impacted by a natural hazard, when your flood zone is going to change, how much it costs to reconstruct a home from the ground up, exactly where a property is located, and more. For the purposes of this question, CoreLogic provides solutions to the insurance industry from natural hazard risk, catastrophe risk, structural value risk, weather verification, and roofing intelligence solutions. These provide an end-to-end suite of knowledge spanning the insurance industry.
Caliper Corporation of Newton, MA is a technology leader in the development of GIS and transportation software. The company provides a range of data products that cater to a broad audience in retail, real estate, restaurant chains, healthcare, banking and business in general.
They create a very accurate ZIP code database.
At CoreLogic pricing will depend greatly on the usage case, industry served and other factors. The breadth of data available makes it impossible to provide a standard statement on pricing.
Nearmap products are fee based annual licenses. They are based on number of users, usage and features needed. Nearmap pricing is structured so that any size company can use the imagery – from small one or two-person shops through large enterprises and everyone in between.
Caliper tries to bundle their data into a single product for a single price, with an integrated mapping solution, because their users don’t understand the separation of GIS and spatial data. They expect a spatial system that works immediately, and they don’t expect to pay more for fundamental features such as streets, postal boundaries, or demographics.
Due to the quality of very high-resolution imagery, there is a fee associated with European Space Imagery imagery. For details of the pricing model you may contact the sales department on email@example.com
“Whilst we don’t provide free imagery, we are a major contributor and the exclusive provider of 40cm resolution imagery to the Copernicus Data Warehouse which is funded by the European Commission and does supply free of charge imagery to eligible users, mainly from EU institutions, public authorities, entrusted entities of the Copernicus services and participants to a research project financed under the EU research programmes.”
Harris Geospatial offers data, hosting, professional mapping services, and analytics for a fee. They deliver the highest quality data and services for almost any location in the world. They point out that data with little cost often means data with little value, which could amount to costly mistakes in the long term.
Esri offers a lot of the information in the Living Atlas for free, some are free but require that you are a subscriber to the ArcGIS Platform, and some datasets are available through the ArcGIS MarketPlace. The MarketPlace is an area for vendors to sell apps and content that can be shared to others in an organization.
Pitney Bowes offers sample data sets for free in key geographies globally. The pricing for their data sets and software solutions vary by specific need, geography and implementation.
All content in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is available through Esri’s REST API or using any of the suite of ArcGIS software client apps.
“We are committed to providing interoperable products that are compliant with spatial standards. The imagery we provide to our customers are supplied in the most common formats such as GeoTIF, JPEG2000 or NITF and with relevant shapefiles which can be opened with virtually any GIS software as well as kml/kmz file formats,” said Zevenbergen.
Pitney Bowes offers datasets in a variety of flexible formats and delivery channels that are portable into GIS, Location Intelligence, or Business Analytics applications. All their datasets can be downloaded directly via our Software and Data Marketplace or directly accessible via a Software Development Kit (SDK).
They also pre-process many of our datasets with the pbKeyTM, a unique and persistent ID associated to an address location and can be used to unlock contextual data attribution about that location.
Data is provided in a variety of spatial formats to support interoperability between software that includes Mapinfo Tab, ESRI Shape, Geojson, WKT.
Pitney Bowes converts a wide range of raw data into data structures and formats that make them useable straight out of the box. Data is also available via their developer hub APIs.
At Harris Geospatial, data is offered in a wide variety of formats, projection and datums compatible with nearly all mapping software packages. In instances where a user does not wish to utilize GIS software, their analytics services can deliver concise, industry-specific answers to problems that plague agricultural, environmental and many other industries.
“CoreLogic recognizes and appreciates the importance of data interoperability across different software platforms and is diligent in ensuring that our content is available to users in a format that will allow them to optimize the data within their software environment,” said Dr. Tom Jeffrey, CEO. “Most of our GIS content products and services are delivered in standard open-formats that can be consumed by a wide variety of GIS Software. For those customers with specialized systems and software we will customize formats to ensure they can get the most out of our solutions.”
Nearmap creates APIs allowing for integration into popular GIS tools like Esri, Mapbox and others.
Maptitude is data mapping software that supports over 50 file types and more than 100 GIS and CAD formats. You can map Esri shapefiles, MapInfo TAB files, MapPoint PTM files, and Oracle Spatial or Microsoft SQL Server tables directly, or use the built-in translators to import geographic data from a variety of other software packages and public sources. This extensive library of importers and exporters is one of the largest in the industry and comes at no additional charge. This makes Maptitude the perfect choice for a new GIS purchase because you can work with your existing installation or easily migrate your data from your current GIS software.
For key customers such as the European Space Agency (ESA), European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), European Union Joint Research Centre (JRC) or EU Satellite Centre , European Space Imaging does offer customized services tailored to their specific needs, especially with regards to satellite imagery ordering and delivery/access mechanisms.
“For other customers, we offer a large variety of geospatial image products and services to fit their project requirements including the use of up to 16 multispectral bands, natural and false colour imagery and bundle options,” said Zevenbergen.
The company’s production system allows a variety of different processing kernels, projections and processing levels to fulfil (almost) every possible customer requirement. They offer basic Level-2 georectified image products as well as atmospheric compensation, orthorectified, pansharpened and colour-corrected Level-3 image products.
Customers can rely on European Space Imagery services that include single shot tasking where the customer cannot just specify a specific area but also the day on which the customer wants the image to be acquired down to monitoring projects that span over a year. European Space Imagery also offers the option of guaranteeing a fast delivery after order and/ or acquisition.
Many of CoreLogic’s solutions are available through a variety of delivery methods—via consulting services, API, cloud-based application, and more. In addition, the level of granularity available makes it possible to be very specific about what you’re looking for and enables a greater degree of accuracy to pinpoint exactly the information necessary to enable better decision-making.
Maptitude includes the GIS Developer’s Kit (GISDK(TM) The GISDK gives you all the programming tools that you need to add GIS functions, mapping and geographic analysis capabilities to Windows desktop applications. The GISDK includes more than 850 GIS functions that can be called from Windows applications written in C# or any other .NET language and Python.
According to Tony Agresta, vice president, Marketing for NearMap, MapBrowser is not configurable. The API has callable functions allowing our partners to implement it in a flexible way.
According to Breyer, Esri can publish data in many ways. As Features, WMS, WFS, rater tiles and even as vector tiles. Vector tile basemaps are one example of a customizable service. Esri just released a style editor (beta) that allows users to customize their vector basemaps.
All Harris Geospatial deliverables are customized. No mapping project is the same as any other and so every data set is tailored to a user’s accuracy, resolution and project extents to perfectly fit the user’s current project.
Pitney Bowes’ data products are designed to be used straight out of the box, however they provide professional services capabilities to support product customization. The roadmap for the Software and data market place does include the capability to customize selections of data and purchase them online.
“ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World provides curated content,” said Breyer. “Without Living Atlas, users would need to sift through innumerable layers, data files, and scenes to find useful content for their projects. LivingAtlas.arcgis.com”
Earlier this year, Pitney Bowes introduced the Software and Data Marketplace to provide clients, partners and prospects instant access to:
Through the Harris Geospatial Marketplace, www.mapmart.com, users can search for and order commercial satellite imagery for any location in the world, accessing the archives of the major global satellite imagery providers in real-time. In addition, the company offers internal and cloud storage to host customer data, and provide access to constituents via direct download and web services.
“All Nearmap imagery is processed using a set of scalable web services allowing us to process imagery for large areas when volume is very high,” said Agresta. “In other words, we scale up to use tens of thousands of CPUs as needed. This allows us to deliver the imagery to users within days of capture and during peak periods.”
“We are committed to facilitating user-friendly access to our products,” said Zevenbergen of European Space Imagery. “Together with our partner DigitalGlobe, we are offering and developing web-based subscription services to our satellite imagery as well as powerful platform solutions that enable users to access, analyze and process DigitalGlobe’s and our global satellite image library in a cloud environment.
In addition, we provide our customers with an online catalogue called IOHS which displays browse imagery of all of our satellite image acquisitions in addition to those captured by DigitalGlobe. This archive is updated in near-real-time which means you will be able to see today’s acquisition as soon as it is archived. Once requested, we deliver imagery data to the customer by a file transfer program, however the data can also be accessed through cloud-based systems and web services.”
“We will be releasing a Maptitude Software as a Service/Web/Cloud version for sharing maps during 2018,” said Stewart Berry, vice president of Product Management. “This will likely be a subscription-based service that allows you to share your maps with others.”
Maptitude maps can be shared in many static image formats such as JPEGs and Bitmaps, as well as being able to be printed to a PDF driver. Maps and data can also be sahred as Google Maps Documents (KML/KMZ), allowing interaction and querying via a free Google Maps account or via the free Google Earth tool.
“CoreLogic takes a holistic approach to giving customers access to our content,” said Jeffrey. “CoreLogic does not rely on any single technology but utilizes a comprehensive collection of API’s, custom platforms, and licensed software products to ensure that customers have access to the data and content they require in a way that works for their organization and systematic architecture.”
“Data analysis can be completed in a variety of our products including: ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Enterprise, Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, and Insights for ArcGIS,” said Breyer.
Esri does not sell hardware for data collection, but the following software is used with mobile devices to collect data:
Drone2Map for ArcGIS: Create orthomosaics, 3D meshes, and more, in ArcGIS from your drone-captured still imagery ― in minutes, not days.
Survey123 for ArcGIS: A simple and intuitive form-centric data gathering solution that makes creating, sharing, and analyzing surveys possible in three easy steps.
Upcoming integration with Spike: watch video
Collector for ArcGIS: Put mapping in the hands of your field workforce to improve the accuracy and currency of your spatial data and make more timely and informed decisions.
Harris Geospatial operates the state-of-the-art Geiger-mode LiDAR sensor which collects detailed point cloud data. This hardware is not available for purchase but it is available for project-based data acquisition.
For European Space Imagery, collecting and distributing data is their core business.
Pitney Bowes develops specific software to analyze data in multiple environments, industries and segments:
Nearmap does not sell hardware but use specialized camera systems and technology for their aerial capture programs.
They have also developed their 17th version of their flagship desktop mapping solution MI Pro.
“From establishment until today, European Space Imaging has multiple partnerships with several of the industry’s biggest players to allow us to provide various solutions to our customers,” said Zevenbergen. “We partner with DigitalGlobe and other companies under the Maxar Technologies brand for the use of their satellites and the building and operation of our ground station located in Munich. Other partnerships for innovative use of our imagery include GAF AG, Vricon and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR.)”
“We have a wide variety of partners including but not limited to Esri, Autodesk, Cape Analytics, Mapbox, Real Green Systems, RoofSnap, Helisoscope, Aurora Solar and many, many more,” said Agresta from Nearmap. “Our imagery is offered inside many third party products.”
Harris Geospatial is partnered with Maxar/DigitalGlobe, Airbus Defense & Space, Hexagon/Valtus, Intermap, 21AT, Satrec Imaging, and 40 other data collectors. These partnerships enable the company to offer comprehensive and unbiased data sets for projects anywhere in the world.
Pitney Bowes partners with:
CoreLogic recently collaborated with Location, Inc. to provide a greater scope of their hazard risk knowledge. “Having long-made our mark in weather-related risk assessments, this has enabled us to provide beyond that with non-weather-related WaterRisk™ and FireRisk™–to help insurers identify risk to a structure for water and fire damage,” said Jeffrey. “CoreLogic also has a long-term relationship with ESRI and as such is able to quickly and easily disseminate product and content into users of ESRI software in a variety of ways.”
Esri is well known for its vast network of partnerships, partnering with over 100’s of data companies company to build content for the GIS users like HERE, DigitalGlobe, Airbus, Michael Bauer Research, NearMap and many more. “We recently enhanced our World Elevation layers with Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho,” said Breyer. “This is the most consistent and accurate satellite-based elevation model on a global scale.
The wonderful thing about GIS data and services is that just about all markets have an opportunity to leverage GIS data. While CoreLogic provides GIS data to many industries, some of their largest markets are; RealEstate, Energy (Oil & Gas, Utility), Telecommunciations, Location intelligence, Government, as well as the Insurance industry where they serve all levels of the market (broker, MGA, carrier, all the way up to the reinsurer). Their solutions are broad enough to support a wide range of industries to put their customers on better footing when it comes to making sound decisions and protecting their clients.
Harris Geospatial caters to many different markets around the world. As a government contractor, the U.S. Government and allied nations are a leading customer base. However, commercially the company services many industries: Insurance, Telecommunications, Visual Simulation, Precision Agriculture, Survey and Mapping, Oil and Gas, Mining, and many others.
Pitney Bowes addresses the global market for location data.
Caliper’s software and services are used across all industries and business types with many customers in the following industries: transportation, banking, insurance, real estate, health care and retail.
Basemaps, Imagery and Demographics are the most popular offerings for Esri users covering every industry sector from National/Federal/Local Governments, Commercial, Natural Resource, Education, Transportation, Telco, Utilities, Transportation, and Water.
“The biggest users of satellite imagery come from the defense and intelligence, government, maritime and agriculture sectors,” said Zevenbergen.
Nearmap has many very large markets including but not limited to architecture, construction, engineering, city and county governments, utilities, transportation, insurance, roofing, solar, landscaping, paving, telecommunications, real estate and many others.
“We have users in every country using Esri data and services with strong growth in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa,” said Breyer of Esri.
Currently, some of the biggest consumers outside of the United States are located in the APAC and EMEA regions, according to Harris Geospatial.
Nearmap has operations in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Agresta agrees that EMEA and Asia are large consumers of imagery and geospatial data services.
“Our natural hazard product suite is primarily used by insurance carriers who insure properties in the U.S., and we are currently providing services to Canada insurers as well,” said Jeffrey. “CoreLogic Catastrophe Risk Management Services also provides a global suite of cat risk models.”
Maptitude offers data and tools for global mapping. They also have released updated data for the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand.
Pitney Bowes believes there are broad applications for this data across multiple geographies, industries and even use cases. They focus first on specific industries and geographies where they have knowledge and expertise, and past success and finally where customers have a need.
Maptitude was used to create the 2010 Census boundaries in the USA:
MarineCadastre.gov contributes data and map services, along with story maps to Living Atlas. These story maps help communicate and educate the public on some of the key issues facing our oceans today. Each story map is designed to display the data and explain how it was created. Full Story
“By contributing data and maps to ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, CIESIN, a leading organization in the development and provision of mapping tools and interactive data retrieval, is sharing information about the extent of human influence on the environment,” said Breyer. “ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World allows CIESIN to reach a wider audience, including GIS professionals and the public, and improve online communication of its data holdings and resources. Full Story –
During Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, CoreLogic assisted the real estate and insurance industries with helping to identify properties at risk for flooding and wind damage so they could provide the appropriate outreach to their customers as quickly as possible. You can find other use cases here:
European Space Imaging:
There has been a large increase in demand for monitoring and analysis of agriculture world-wide. Using Pitney Bowes’ Precision Agriculture Crop Science tools and their partnerships formed with the major sub-meter satellite imagery providers, their data + analytics solutions monitor the size and health of fruit orchards, sugar cane fields, berry fields, and other crops as they progress through the growing cycle.
Register for the Software and Data Marketplace here: pbs-access.pitneybowes.com
DigitalGlobe A Maxar Company
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