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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 »

GISCafe 2018 Year in Review

December 20th, 2018 by Susan Smith

Many years ago Marshall McLuhan wrote that “the medium is the message.” Never has that been more true than today as we look at how we receive our information – via our phones, computers, TVs, blogs, podcasts, Twitter and other social media. The Immediacy of the message is now available through those avenues, and serves us well in the form new geospatial technology development – autonomous vehicle technology, data acquisition and analytics, social media mapping and imagery – all of which can be utilized to save time, money and more importantly, save lives.

Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Autonomous vehicle development is front and center in the news these days, with geospatial companies working hard to provide the autonomous technology necessary to populate the world’s highways with safe, responsive robotic vehicles. This technology is also a part of the greater vision for resilient or “smart” cities, as new cities are created or revamped and the desire is to incorporate self-driving vehicles into the fabric of the new infrastructure.

Hexagon’s Positioning Intelligence division (Hexagon PI) announced the intention to acquire AutonomouStuff once the acquisition is completed, an announcement made by Hexagon AB. The addition of AutonomouStuff to Hexagon PI will boost collaboration between the organizations to provide superior solutions for autonomous vehicle development.

“Combined with Hexagon PI’s leadership in high accuracy, functionally-safe and high-integrity positioning technology, the addition of AutonomouStuff and their offerings is helping our customers to accelerate the development of more comprehensive Autonomous X solutions,” said Michael Ritter, President and CEO of Hexagon PI. “Our expanded capabilities will allow Hexagon PI to meet the industry’s ever growing demand for more robust autonomy solutions.”

Cepton Technologies, Inc., a provider of 3D LiDAR solutions for automotive, industrial and mapping applications, recently introduced its Vista LiDAR sensor at the annual NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference, making it immediately available for the autonomous vehicle market.

The 120-line-equivalent scanner delivers 200 meters of range and 0.2 degrees of spatial resolution. With a much smaller footprint than most solutions on the market, the Vista LiDAR also uses fewer than 10 watts of power. This allows automakers to seamlessly integrate LiDAR technology into the vehicle body.

Hexagon Positioning Intelligence to Acquire AutonomouStuff for Autonomous Vehicle Development

Vista Lidar Sensor Unveiled for Autonomous Vehicles

Vista on the car

Mapping the Underground

Mark Smith, CEO of Geospatial Corporation knows about the challenges of mapping the underground, which includes mapping underwater. The company’s goal is to create an underground “map of the world,” by doing it “one pipeline at a time.” This is a sensible approach to a project that may seem a bit like trying to eat an elephant (start with the toes!). With the help of sensors and Geospatial’s cloud-based GIS platform, GeoUnderground, it looks like the goal is highly attainable.

“The most obvious challenge is that the pipelines and conduits are underground or underwater and that makes the selection of the data acquisition methodology very important,” says Smith. “I like to say that the difference between locating and mapping is pretty straight forward. Locators attempt to “clear” an area for a specific reason, such as in preparation for a construction project. At Geospatial Corporation, we approach a project in a very “holistic” manner. We know there is no “silver bullet” that will allow us to accurately map every type of buried infrastructure within a facility, right of way or municipality.  We know that we need to use many types of data acquisition technologies to obtain a complete “picture” or “map” of the underground.  In addition, getting this vast amount of data properly into a GIS platform from the field, often with numerous techs collecting below and above ground over large areas is in itself a trick.  For this we have developed GeoUnderground, our proprietary cloud-based GIS platform built on Google Maps. GeoUnderground provides an economical, SaaS based, powerful yet very simple to use GIS Platform accessible from any phone. Our goal is to have every data acquisition tool seamlessly integrate into GeoUnderground.”

While Geospatial Corporation is creating the underground map of the world, “one pipeline at a time,” they are also constantly finding new sensor applications, and also exploring new software applications utilizing Blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

An Underground Map of the World

Tunnel Vision

To tie the two visions of autonomous vehicle technology and underground mapping together, Elon Musk, known for his SpaceX company and his disruptive technology such as electric cars and spacecraft, is now experimenting with the very first tunnel of a new concept of a network of underground highways. Musk’s proof-of-concept first tunnel runs between the SpaceX headquarters and a parking lot behind a defunct business about a mile away, in Hawthorne, near Los Angeles. It’s just a test, but a vision of things to come: electric cars using street level elevators to drop down into a series of tunnels. Autonomous vehicle technology will ensure the cars stick to a prescribed path and don’t cause collisions.

Musk says his tunnel “vision” is an answer to traffic congestion on the surface and is more affordable than surface highway construction.

Flood and Fire Analysis from CoreLogic

2018 saw a record number of floods and fires. Providing loss estimates and predictive analysis is CoreLogic. We can’t list every fire and flood that CoreLogic has tracked, however, their research covers every major catastrophic natural event in the U.S.

At the end of November, CoreLogic sent out the newest loss estimate on the Woolsey and Camp Fires in California, estimating that they could cause between $15 and $19 billion in devastating residential and commercial losses.

  • Total losses from the Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, are estimated to be between $11 billion and $13 billion.
  • Total losses from the Woolsey Fire in Southern California are estimated to be an additional $4 billion to $6 billion.

Earlier in the year, CoreLogic®, announced the launch of its new publicly-accessible risk information resource center, Hazard HQ(tm). This new information hub will offer individuals, media and companies high-level analyses and up-to-date data insights on the immediate risks natural catastrophes pose to properties across the country.

As comprehensive risk assessment needs increase alongside growing economic losses from natural catastrophes, Hazard HQ offers a high-level risk perspective for individuals and companies who wish to understand how hazards like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, severe convective storms, wildfires, wind and volcanic activity can impact their regions.

David Smith, Senior Director of Model Development at CoreLogic, spoke with GISCafe Voice aboutthe analysis of loss from flooding from Hurricane Florence released by CoreLogic.

CoreLogic analysis shows Hurricane Florence is estimated to have caused between $20 billion and $30 billion in flood and wind losses.

According to this new data analysis, flood loss for residential and commercial properties in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia is estimated to be between $19 billion and $28.5 billion which includes both storm surge and inland flooding. Specifically, uninsured flood loss for the same area is estimated to be between $13 billion and $18.5 billion. Wind losses are estimated to be an additional $1 billion to $1.5 billion.

CoreLogic’s New Analysis on Flood and Wind Losses from Hurricane Florence

New Resource Center Hazard HQ From CoreLogic Offers Public Access to Analysis and Data Insights

Africa Eye on Violence

In July 2018, a deeply disturbing and violent video began to circulate on social media. Taking place in Cameroon, it depicts two women and two young children being led at gunpoint away from a village by a group of Cameroonian soldiers. Blindfolded, the victims are forced to the ground and shot 22 times by the soldiers.

Investigation by Aliaume Leroy and Ben Strick

Produced by Daniel Adamson and Aliaume Leroy

Motion Graphics: Tom Flannery

The government of Cameroon initially dismissed the video as “fake news.” But BBC Africa Eye, an investigative branch of the BBC that focuses on investigative journalism in Africa, did a thorough investigation through forensic analysis of the footage. Using satellite imagery as well as matching of landmarks and even the types of uniforms worn by the soldiers, they can prove exactly where this happened, when it happened, and who is responsible for the killings.

In a conversation with Steve Wood, senior analyst for DigitalGlobe and their Maxar News Bureau, he talked about his involvement in bringing open source and geoint to the telling of this very shocking story.

“We can now expose things that were previously difficult to get exposed,” said Wood. Wood has been with DigitalGlobe for quite awhile as a career imagery analyst and has a lot of time and experience working with satellite imagery both in the government and at DigitalGlobe.

“Part of what we have been doing here at DigitalGlobe and at Maxar, our parent company, is we have a team called the news bureau and we work very closely with media organizations around the world to provide our imagery and help them tell stories like this,” Wood said.  We like to specialize in the more investigative aspect, although we often get caught up in the current events, whether its Hurricane Florence or a current activity that can be more visually presented using satellite imagery. We’ve worked with the BBC for quite a while on stories in the middle east, Africa and elsewhere.”

DigitalGlobe Spotlights Human Rights Violations with Satellite Imagery and GEOINT

Satellite View of the 2018 World Cup

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.

According to Deming, the 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.”

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.

Flying 2018 World Cup Stadiums

School Safety and GIS

The U.S. has been rocked by tragic school shootings and other violence over the past years, with very little deterrent to this disturbing trend.

At the Esri User Conference 2018, a talk entitled “School Safety GIS – Survey123” was conducted by GIS specialist for Detroit Public Schools, Randall Raymond, and Officer Adele Gardner, Detroit Public Schools Community District Police Department, who outlined the work they have been doing over the past year to use social media and other geospatial tools to detect, analyze and visualize potential dangers to kids in schools.

“We were able to create a social media mapping feed that was out-of-the-box Esri available and discovered while it did what we wanted it to do in some ways, it was very manual and labor intensive,” said Raymond. “You needed someone to constantly be looking at the feeds that were coming in. We partnered with Esri and they suggested a company named DataCapable, that was doing social media for event detection, event notification and event mapping for the power and gas industry. We figured it was the same for a big power company and they would be interested in what we’re doing. They retasked some of what their software does to give us more analytics and give us more understanding of potentially dangerous situations happening at schools by monitoring for specific events. We could use machine learning and artificial intelligence to go through messages and quickly determine the validity of them, confidence in them and decide if there is action that needed to be taken.”

School Safety GIS Ups the Ante with Social Media and Georeferenced Floor Plans



Please send your industry predictions for 2019 to me, Susan Smith, by January 3rd for inclusion in a blog published in the first couple of weeks of January. Please keep your submission to 100-500 words, with author’s name, email address, photo and short bio. Do have a safe and wonderful holiday season and look forward to hearing from you in or before the New Year!

Susan Smith, Editor, GISCafe

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Categories: 3D Cities, ArcGIS, asset management, autonomous driving, autonomous vehicles, Big Data, Bitcoin, Blockchain technology, citizen science, climate change, cloud, cloud network analytics, CoreLogic, crowd source, data, DigitalGlobe, disaster relief, drones, earthquakes, field GIS, geocoding, geospatial, GeoUnderground, GIS, government, GPS, handhelds, health, Hexagon, hurricanes, image-delivery software, in car navigation, indoor location technology, indoor mapping, Intergraph, LBS, lidar, location based services, location intelligence, mapping, mobile, mobile mapping, Open Source, photogrammetry, public safety, remote sensing, resilient cities, satellite imagery, sensors, situational intelligence, spatial data, storm surge, subsurface utilities, survey, telecommunications, transportation, UAS, UAV, UAVs, underground mapping, utilities, wireless networks

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