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 »
Flying 2018 World Cup Stadiums
July 6th, 2018 by Susan Smith
Robby Deming, Media Strategy Manager for Esri, created a Story Map of the stadiums played in during the 2018 World Cup. Also, DigitalGlobe, who provided the high-resolution satellite imagery for the story map, offered valuable background on the collection of the imagery and how it would serve other industries besides the World Cup itself.
The following interviews with GISCafe Voice depict Esri and DigitalGlobe’s different but complementary perspectives on the 2018 World Cup stadiums and surrounding infrastructure imagery documentation.
What data are you including in the story map?
Robby Deming: This story map includes several different types of data, from the precise locations of the stadiums themselves on the map to the stunning aerial imagery provided by DigitalGlobe and the dramatic venue shots from the Associated Press. Since we partnered with AP on this story map, we included details about each stadium relating to its capacity, construction, and history. Overall, our goal was to give people interested in the World Cup a sense of context and place about these venues in a country that is likely foreign to them.
Were these stadiums created for the World Cup?
Robby Deming: Some of the stadiums, such as Kaliningrad Stadium, were built to support both the World Cup and additional sporting events in the future (FC Baltika Kaliningrad will play their future home games at the stadium). Some, such as Yekaterinburg Arena, have stood for 50 years or more and have undergone recent upgrades for the World Cup. One of the stadiums built for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is also being used for World Cup matches.
Are there more images besides the ones of the stadiums and more to the story?
Robby Deming: Both AP and DigitalGlobe collected a suite of images that we used to curate the Map Tour. We settled on the sharpest images that best represented the character of these venues. For this Map Tour, we emphasized information that would take visitors on a virtual tour of these stadiums without bogging them down with lots of additional detail.
How do you go about creating story maps of such a huge event?
Robby Deming: We often create multiple maps around major events like the Olympics and the World Cup. Given the scope and scale of these events, we find that it makes sense to create a series of focused story maps that highlight different aspects of the event. In the case of the World Cup, we actually created several different story maps to offer different perspectives. For example, The World Cup in 33 Maps explores the history of the World Cup and provides fascinating visualizations about goal scoring, win rates, and more. That story map serves a very different purpose than the Map Tour we created with AP and DigitalGlobe, where we wanted to virtually transport readers to Russia. Others still focused on details like match schedules at each venue (Match Schedules).
Are there specifications of the stadiums and other venues included in the story maps, number of people in attendance, etc.?
Robby Deming: Yes, each venue in the story map includes information about its capacity, construction type, and history/future intended uses.
Are the images used for security, potential disaster response, law enforcement, traffic response and other GIS purposes? If so how?
Robby Deming: While we’re not aware of specific uses of this imagery, the fact that the imagery is hosted in ArcGIS Online means it’s available for users around the world to analyze and use.
On our call, DigitalGlobe’s senior sales manager Tom Jones and product manager Chris Formeller spoke with GISCafe Voice about the use of DigitalGlobe satellites in the collection of image data for the 2018 World Cup stadiums.
Why was satellite imagery chosen as opposed to something less expensive to execute this project?
Tom Jones: DigitalGlobe owns and operates the world’s most advanced constellation of commercial imaging satellites. Regarding satellite collection, we don’t have to go through the regulatory requirements of getting flight plans scheduled in Russia. The benefit with satellites is that we can fly and collect globally and do it in a very efficient manner.
Did you have any archival imagery that you might’ve compared with stadiums newly built for the 2018 World Cup specifically or had some been in existence previously?
Chris Formeller: I did look at some of the archival imagery of previous stadiums. It looks like from previous shots there was some refurbishment or construction taking place. There definitely were a few where there was construction going on in recent months.
Do you have more images than are included in the Story Map?
Yes. We do. Historically, DigitalGlobe has imaged the various World Cup stadiums, but to show the current state of the stadiums, we recently did a tasking run over all the stadiums. Additional imagery is available in our archives.
DigitalGlobe has been collecting high-resolution imagery going back to around 2000, so the stadiums that were built between then and now can be observed before, during and after their construction.
What resolution are the images you took?
Predominantly we used our 30-centimeters collectors, WorldView-3 and WorldView-4. For the majority of the 12 World Cup stadiums, 11 of them are at a 30-centimeter class, while one is a 50-centimeter class. We were struggling with weather over one of the sites, so we used something that was in our archive that was pretty current from one of our 50-centimeter collectors. With 30-centimeter resolution, very fine details of the stadiums and surrounding areas are clearly seen, as it is highest resolution available in the market.
We had pretty good success imaging the stadiums. Our collection team monitors weather patterns and finds the best opportunities and ideal paths for collection windows, so if the weather is poor, we’ll wait until the weather event moves out of the way so we can collect. One site did have challenges, but this time of year it’s typical with clouds.
Did you take shots of areas around the stadiums?
Our initial tasking focus was over the stadiums, however, these are full strips, so there is additional imagery that expands in all directions from the stadium, as we clipped the images for the story map to 10 Km x 10 Km square areas. There is additional imagery of World Cup cities in our archive as well.
How many times did you fly over the stadiums?
We had many passes — we had over 44 collections over the stadiums and we are still collecting over the stadiums right now.
Do you know what the images will be used for besides the story map?
Tom Jones: The nice part of our core imagery products is they have a multitude of uses once they are collected and propagated into our archives. They are available to other customers that might be interested in these sites for other visualization or mapping, and vector or feature extraction. Imagery is also fed into our FirstLook service and online cloud platforms like SecureWatch to help visualize some changes in the event that’s going on. This is inventory that can be used across many of our products and services.
The other types of customers that might have use for these images are civil government agencies, emergency management agencies, technology and mapping companies, and many more. These images feature multi-spectral bands that allow for many applications, such as change detection, vegetation health, etc., across multiple industries.
There are many downstream applications that will make this imagery very useful to many organizations once the World Cup is over.
We have several imagery collection programs. One is the Metro program, where we’re actively collecting imagery over the 6,000 most populated cities around the globe to ensure we have the most current imagery for these cities, including their road networks, infrastructure, and land usage. Then we have our FirstLook program, with a team of analysts watching the news to make sure we’re collecting imagery over the events people will care about, such as natural disaster events like earthquakes, floods and fires. A lot of them are human interest events like the Super Bowl, or the World Cup in this case. That’s why we’ve been collecting imagery over these stadiums for the last month or so, as we want to be sure we have most current imagery as possible.
Will the images be made available to countries who may require them for emergency response?
Tom Jones: The imagery will be fully available for other customers. If there was a natural disaster or emergency, we might leverage our FirstLook program where we would store this imagery and make it available in the event of a disaster.
For instance, with Hurricane Harvey, we made a portfolio of imagery available to Team Rubicon and other groups that were trying to get people out of their flooded homes in Texas. They used the most current imagery to build paths of access. That’s an example of imagery for an important humanitarian and safety-of-life event. You don’t know exactly how it’s going to be useful, but the act of collecting and sharing it for those who need it is always the first step.
And if you think about the security teams that are responsible for safely getting World Cup teams to the right places, in most cases, they are coming from other parts of the world. They likely don’t know the geography and the workings of the city. Dignitaries and other VIPs from these nations also need to be transported to and from these games in a safe way. Security planning is another important aspect of what our imagery is good for.
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