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Satellite imagery in Colorado may face steep federal budget cuts

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The Denver area has become a center of satellite imagery providers in recent years. Proposed steep cuts in the U.S. Department of Defense budget could affect satellite-imagery providers DigitalGlobe, headquartered in Longmont, and GeoEye,based in Virginia with a processing and operations center in Thornton. Combined, the companies have about 1,200 employees.

 

This satellite image made available Sept. 26, 2009, by DigitalGlobe shows the suspected Iranian nuclear facility of Fordo near the holy Shiite city of Qom, where Iran is has begun enriching uranium, according to the U.N. atomic watchdog group, the International Atomic Energy Agency. (AFP/Getty Images file)

 

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President Obama praises young scientists at White House Science Fair

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

President Obama’s closing words to young scientists at today’s Science Fair held at the White House: “I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work. And don’t let any of those robots wander too far.”

LiveLink integrates GIS with remote sensing and image processing

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Mladen Stojic,  vice president Geospatial, Intergraph, talked about their new Live Link product which integrates Intergraph GeoMedia objects into ERDAS IMAGINE. Intergraph is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hexagon acquired in 2011. What this product offers is what customers have been asking for – an integrated approach to desktop workflows, combining the desktop GIS capability of  GeoMedia integrated with the raster remote sensing and image processing capabilities of ERDAS IMAGINE.

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2012 Predictions: Esri on Social Media, Business Intelligence and Analytics, the Cloud and more

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Social Media and Authoritative Citizen Data
Crowdsourced data, initially met with skepticism and concern by the geospatial community, is now going mainstream. GIS practitioners have long been the keepers of “authoritative” data, and are now beginning to take crowdsourced data very seriously.  This is in large part due to the tremendous utility of crowdsourced data we’ve seen during responses to recent disasters. Crowdsourced data enriches GIS, and Esri is constantly looking at how our users can use, manage, interpret, and incorporate it into their work.

The Cloud
With the advent of cloud computing as a new platform, geospatial applications in the cloud are driving a powerful new modality for GIS.  With it, there is an opportunity to reinvent the way the GIS application is built and consumed, as well as influence the discovery and availability of spatial data and geospatial analyses.

Cloud computing provides the potential for access to and publication of dynamic data.  This includes the consumption of real-time information for analyses and modeling, which can then be leveraged in applications that serve multiple purposes and audiences.  Esri is seeing this more with disaster response operations that are standing up mission-critical geospatial applications hosted in the cloud.  With access to seemingly unlimited compute capacity using cloud infrastructures, analytical calculations can be performed in a fraction of the time as traditional processes, which may potentially offer more economic viability as a result of the economies of scale that the cloud affords.
This may seem only attractive to small- to medium-sized businesses, educational institutions, non-profits, and startups.  But as cloud computing moves increasingly into mainstream operations for business, the potential for cloud-hosted content and cloud-delivered content is becoming a significant reality for organizations, regardless of size. For a geospatial technologist, cloud GIS can ideally mean that data is always available, always accessible. For the mobile worker, the cloud offers an expansive field to speed workflow productivity and collaboration. Shared data and applications in the cloud can be immediately accessed to discover, view, edit, save changes and invoke geoprocessing functions for on-demand results.

Esri recognizes the opportunities that cloud computing can afford the geospatial professional and technologist.  As such, we intend to continue to invest significantly in research and development of cloud-based solutions and services across multiple vendors to satisfy the requests by the geospatial community, and to foster growth of GIS into industries and within communities that may have not been cultivated as yet.

It is important to underscore that our current attention to the cloud does not forego interest and investment in on-premises desktops, servers and mobile applications.  Rather, the cloud is another enabling platform to help complement and augment an organization’s sales, marketing, and technology portfolio capabilities.

Business Intelligence and Analytics
Commercial/business applications of GIS have long lagged behind more traditional GIS applications such as planning, government, and environment.  But we are starting to see GIS reach much deeper into the business arena due to the focus on integration of GIS with enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence (BI), data warehousing, and enterprise content management (ECM) applications. The majority of these integrated applications let end users work either in their business application environment or the GIS environment, so they are not disruptive to existing enterprise workflows.

Esri’s approach in this arena has been to partner with companies who have deep expertise in their respective BI, ERP, and ECM environments. We also recently acquired SpotOn Systems, a company that brings interactive mapping to IBM Cognos business intelligence applications. By making it easier to unite Esri’s spatial analytics, data, and maps with IBM Cognos BI, we think that this acquisition provides business users of GIS with the analytic element that has long been missing.

How to measure the world’s largest cities

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Scholars are having trouble measuring the world’s largest cities – largely because the terms the cities are measured by differ from place to place. They have come up with a total of 30 largest cities in the world.

Richard Greene, associate professor of geography at Northern Illinois University in the United States, says even the most authoritative list, from the UN, “compares apples with pears”.

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Saving changes to your default raster type [ArcGIS Resource Center]

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

For those who have made any changes to the default raster type, you will probably want to save your changes.  This way you can re-use your custom raster type if you want to load additional raster data with the same properties and functions.
To save your custom raster type, click on the General tab.  At the bottom of this tab, you will see a Save As button.  Click the Save As button, and save it in the location where you keep all your custom raster types.

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Trimble’s Q4 GAAP net income down while revenues up from same time last year

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Trimble Navigation Limited (TRMB) reported that its fourth-quarter GAAP net income attributable to the company was $29.40, down from $36.56 million in the same quarter last year. Earnings per share in the fourth quarter of 2011 were $0.23 as compared to diluted earnings per share of $0.29 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

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2012 Predictions: Safe Software on remote sensing, 3D GIS and more

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

 

Remote Sensing

The amount of data that is being collected by sensors (remote sensors), terrestrial sensors, and personal sensors is going to explode.   Today, everyone with a smartphone is carrying around a very sophisticated sensor.   We are going to see the data from these sensors being used more and more. With all the sensors that are coming on line, we are quickly approaching the point where we can see what is happening anywhere at anytime.

3D GIS

The level of interest in 3D GIS is definitely on the upswing.   With new data sources like LiDAR and the ability of tools to combine these different sources to make immersive environments – it’s going to take a big leap forward.    Augmented Reality is just one technology that is on the cusp of breaking out.   2012 could be the year when it moves from a curiosity to a real must-have application. 2012 could also see a large adoption of 3D GIS technologies, as Autodesk continues work with its Infrastructure Modeler and Esri rolls out the fruit from its acquisition of Procedural and its CityEngine technology.

Web Mapping

We are really seeing a lot of excitement on the mobile platform.   In today’s world, a mobile workforce is still a connected workforce.  No longer is it the case that field workers are disconnected from their office systems.  As a result we are increasingly seeing the need for real-time data movement.  With workers always being connected, the line will continue to blur between the office, the field, and the home.  Smartphones are really “pocket” computers with more processing power than that of desktops only a few years ago.    The challenge now is more about bandwidth than anything else, and this is only going to get better and cheaper in 2012.  In 2012 more people are going to run “mobile” web apps from their smartphones/iPods/iPads than from their computers on the desktop.

Social Media and Authoritative Citizen Data

The importance of social media to business is only increasing.   Now people use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to follow topics and keep in touch with their customers and industry trends.   Social media has really changed the way that organizations get the word out.  At Safe now we see ourselves spending more and more time on “content” marketing so that we have the content that users need.   Through social media we are also in constant communication with more of our users than ever before.

On the topic of authoritative citizen data we are going to see more applications where citizens can help their cities and countries run better.  Whether it is helping cities identify potholes, or graffiti locations by simply sending in geo-tagged photos, or helping authorities prosecute “rioters” by taking video and pictures with their phones – the trend is clear.  Citizens are going to be more engaged than ever before.

Cloud

The cloud is everywhere in 2012. At Safe for example, we do almost everything in the cloud.  We run our demo machines in the cloud. We train in the cloud. Our website is in the cloud. Our customers can evaluate using the cloud.  From a technology perspective cloud technology is ready to host everything.

 

We are also going to continue to see more and increasingly powerful cloud-based systems out there.  Take Google Fusion Tables for example.   This technology makes it trivial for anyone to publish and share any kind of data, including spatial data, and share it with the world instantly!   It’s amazing, and the cloud makes it possible.

The cloud is also a great equalizer.  It used to be that organizations that wanted to create world class web-based solutions had to spend huge amounts of capital to purchase their own server farms to host these applications.  With cloud services now, such as Amazon’s AWS, anyone can now create web-based solutions and simply leverage the scalability it inherently provides and only pay for what they use when they use it.    This moves CPU usage for these organizations from the “highway” model; (build and pay for infrastructure to handle peak loads), to the electricity model in which you only pay for what you use.  The cloud and its impact are still in early days.

Integration

The integration challenge is bigger than ever.  For us at Safe we are seeing demands for data to be moved between more different kinds of systems than ever before.  For the first decade of Safe it was all about CAD<->GIS.  Now we have Raster, LiDAR, XML, Big Data, and Web-based data sources such as Google Fusion Tables.   Users don’t want to just move it either way; they want to combine it and then send it to new applications.   Over this period the “data freshness” dates are getting shorter and shorter.   In 2012 we believe we are going to see organizations want to leverage “real-time” data.  We also are seeing an explosion of sensors and expect organizations to need to integrate this entirely new type of data into their workflows so that they can react quicker and more effectively to events.    This belief was a driving force behind the “Event Driven” architecture which we have added to FME Server.  With this we are ready to handle a whole new class of data integration challenge.

Safe Software responses by:

Don Murray,

President and Co-founder of Safe Software

2012 Predictions: Autodesk on GIS and Utilities

Monday, January 30th, 2012

GIS/Utilities

In 2012, utilities will begin to invest heavily in analytics in order to manage increasingly large volumes of data due to the rise of smart meters. Utilities and GIS companies are also exploring how this information can be used for real-time tracking and operations and to help drive business value.

Smart buildings will become important to utilities. Twenty-five states have energy-efficiency standards or targets and smart buildings can help meet these goals. The building energy analytics market will double between 2012 and 2015, jumping from $193 billion to $402 billion.

-Autodesk AEC Executive Team

Speed, notification, more file formats in the new FME 2012

Friday, January 27th, 2012

 

Vice President of Software Development and Co-founder of Safe Software, Dale Lutz, spoke about the latest release of FME, FME 2012, which has just been released. Safe’s releases of FME are annual, and are designed to always be faster than the previous release and incorporate more file formats than they did before.

What is the most significant feature of the 2012 release, Dale?

The point cloud or lidar support changes that we made in the last year are very significant. W e came out of the gate last year with our lidar support point cloud and I was impressed how well received that was. What we realized was that the volumes of data were even in an order of magnitude greater than what we thought a year ago. We spent the last year really addressing and optimizing for data volume and we’re very please with how the FME 2012 point handling support can gobble up billions of point clouds and put them into Oracle and chop them into little pieces in very timely ways. Don [Murray] has said that every release of FME has to be faster than the previous one and we did meet that with more than ten percent overall across 5,000 tests, we are more than 10% faster. Even if existing users don’t do anything else they just put on the new release they’re going to be getting their jobs done faster than before. In terms of our overall offering, as you know we have FME Server, and there we’re doing a thing we call notification server which has to do with the notification idea –  that not only can we centralize data moving on a server, we can now react and cause it to move when an event happens outside. Kinds of events can be, for example – a file arrives in a folder and that’s a stimulus that can cause a response by our server to upload that file into a database or into a Quality Assurance check on that thing. These are event driven actions, as opposed to the user having to poke the server and saying please do this.

One example is a file arriving causing an event – an email arrives and it causes something to happen. A web sensor of some kind posts results – we’ve been doing some demos and playing with web sensors and that data can come in and our server can do something. Now there is a field called complex event processing or CEP and what we really think we’ve got here is spatial complex event processing where an event happens and a transformation process starts.  Not only can it move data around but can also take advantage of where that event happened.

So that’s the notification addition into our FME Server product family.

How many of these new features did customers request?

Parts of the new features were requested by people but we generalized their requests into something greater. We know that many of the use cases I mentioned to you are futuristic — they’re ready for the internet of things or the sensor web that people talk about. Practically what people ask for is the first one I mentioned, if the file arrives the folder does something because that’s closer to our traditional space. When I talk about sensor web that flirts with the user space that we’re confident that we’re able to address but we might be ahead of our user base there.

You mentioned more file formats in the new FME 2012.

The world is always creating more formats – I believe the number is 285 now with FME 2012. Existing formats don’t stay still either, they’re always changing and growing. CityGML had a new version this year, GML is looking at another version, there’s always more happening. The development team has to juggle all this and it’s not getting easier each year.

The other half of this is the world of the cloud. Although it’s not a file format, it’s a new place where data can reside. And so in FME another key feature is the fact that we can read and write Google Fusion tables and so there you have a new “format” but it’s not a file, it’s a mystical call out to the cloud.  You use FME to put data up there and then you permit it, then instantly the whole universe can share in it. It’s a way of publishing data that can be used by anybody instantly so it’s quite interesting what this opens up for collaboration.

How do you address private clouds, which we hear a lot about these days?

Private clouds are not on the data format side, but rather on the deployment side. People ask can we install your software and get our own private cloud can we install it on an Amazon system? We do have an answer on all those cases. We have many customers already doing cloud based deployment using our software in the cloud, running in the cloud in a variety of ways.

That’s an area that continues to explode. We have moved to using cloud hosted FME for all our training. If you take an FME training class, no matter where you take it, whether it’s online or in person, you’ll be using an FME installation in the cloud. The reason is it’s way easier for us to administer it. But even if you come to our office to do training in our Training Center you’ll be connected to FME in the cloud even though it’s in our own office.

We’re doing a soft launch of what we call the FME Store, which is a way for certain parties who belong to the FME ecosystem  that build plug ins or extensions for FME to be able to make the rest of the FME community aware of what they’ve created.

 

 

 

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