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Eye on Earth Summit held in Abu Dhabi this week

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

An important geospatial data event that commenced yesterday in Abu Dhabi is the Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi 2011 Summit and Exhibition, a joint initiative of the Government of Abu Dhabi and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), opened today at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The Summit has convened leaders from the worldwide geospatial data movement to outline a roadmap for the better integration of the world’s flood of environmental and societal data for the benefit of all, and especially of developing economies.

The patron for this event is His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. The Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi 2011 Summit & Exhibition is hosted by Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), facilitated by Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

At its opening Monday 12 December, H. E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Secretary-General of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, said: “The reason we are all here today (is) safeguarding our environment for our future generations…This Summit is held in recognition that environmental and societal data should be collected in a concerted manner, at its source, made accessible and affordable and should be used to underpin reporting and support decision making in order to achieve sustainable development.”

The Eye on Earth Summit attracts those in global leadership of the environmental information movement, a group dedicated to maximizing and exposing the benefits of geospatial information to decision-makers worldwide.

Forrester Research speaks on the cloud

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

James Staten of Forrester Research spoke about the cloud at the recent Autodesk University in Las Vegas. He made a case for the cloud by saying that “clouds are more secure than you are.”

His recommendations:

  1. Focus – clouds can concentrate their whole security team on securing the one app.
  2. Exposure – when cloud outages happens every customer gets upset and they end up in New York Times. When your email system goes down it doesn’t show up in the papers. Because of that risk those creating the cloud invest heavily in the best security minds out there. Every one of those was given a job offer by Amazon, Microsoft, etc. at very high salaries. “If anyone breaks into my account I want to know about it. The cloud is concerned with extreme audits, a security expert, who they hire, who gets into the data center, whether they are making sure malware is up to date,” said Staten.
  3. Validation
  4. Multitenancy – there is far more encryption in the cloud model and it is far more difficult to see that another customer is there to alleviate concerns of privacy such as Pepsi and Coke using the same cloud service, for example.


Checking out the whole fleet with WEBFLEET Mobile Smartphone App

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Recently TomTom introduced the WEBFLEET Mobile Smartphone App, which gives an overarching view of a customer’s fleet to the PC in the office. This can be accessed on any device from anywhere drawing data from the cloud and is particularly useful to small business owners. In an interview with Michael Geffroy, Vice President of Sales, North America for TomTom Business Solutions, he outlined the exciting features of WEBFLEET:


Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler use on the upswing

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Director of Professional Services at IMAGinIT Kevin Breslin said at Autodesk University 2011 this week that they are seeing an uptake of Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler in their work as consultants.

Customers are using it a lot in civil engineering for conceptual design. They can put in roads, move and change things around and tap into their geospatial data and combine that with data in Autodesk Map and Civil 3D. Breslin said the visualization/analysis tool can handle large amounts of data.

Landsat 5 satellite on the blink, paves way for Landsat 8 scheduled launch 2013

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

According to a press release issued by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) November 18, the Landsat 5 Mission may no longer remain in operation. The reason for this is the USGS has stopped acquiring images from the 27-year-old Landsat 5 Earth observation satellite due to a rapidly degrading electronic component.

A Landsat 5 image of the Wallow Fire acquired on June 15, 2011. Landsat imagery courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and U.S. Geological Survey

A Landsat 5 image of the Wallow Fire acquired on June 15, 2011. Landsat imagery courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and U.S. Geological Survey

When Landsat 5 was launched in 1984 it was designed to last 3 years. The USGS assumed operation of Landsat 5 in 2001 and managed to rescue the aging satellite back from the brink of total failure on several occasions following the malfunction of key subsystems.

“This anticipated decline of Landsat 5 provides confirmation of the importance of the timely launch of the next Landsat mission and the need for an operational and reliable National Land Imaging System,” stated Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The USGS is committed to maintaining the unique long term imaging database that the Landsat program provides.”

The amplifier that is in jeopardy is essential for transmitting land-surface images from the Landsat 5 satellite to ground receiving stations in the U.S. and around the world. In the past 10 days, amplifier problems have significantly diminished the satellite’s ability to down load images.

Now USGS engineers have suspended imaging activities for 90 days so that they can explore possible options for restoring satellite-to-ground image transmissions.

The USGS-operated Landsat 7 is actively in orbit collecting global imagery. Launched in 1999 with a 5-year design life, Landsat 7 has experienced an instrument anomaly which reduces the amount of data collected per image. A new satellite, Landsat 8, currently named the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, is now scheduled to be launched in January 2013.

Just in time for Thanksgiving: Metro Wine Map from UC Santa Barbara Geography Dept.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Dr. Map from the UC Santa Barbara Geography Department recently came across the extraordinary Metro Wine Map, designed by architectural historian and wine buff, Dr. David Gissen.” This map covers the French wine districts, and the “appellations.”

“The twist is that the map uses the technique pioneered by Harry Beck in the 1930s for the London underground map. Wine districts are colored “lines,” with branches showing the different appellations. One can clearly see, for example the link between Pouilly-Fumé and Vouvray, both from the Loire Valley, but with the former made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety and the latter Chenin Blanc.”

Going where no GPS has gone before

Monday, November 21st, 2011

In November a gathering of 150 GPS engineers convened in Stanford at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to discuss the $110 billion GPS market for military and commercial aviation systems, consumer mapping services in cars and automated agricultural machines, among other related industries at the fifth annual Stanford University symposium on Position, Navigation and Time.

A big topic on the table is that GPS is no longer the only navigation and tracking system on the planet any more. According to a November article in Wired, there are four things threatening the future of GPS:

  • Next-generation mobile broadband services angling for a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum relied upon by GPS
  • Cheap GPS jammers flooding the highways, thanks to consumers worried about invasive police and employers surveillance;
  • Cosmic events, like solar storms
  • Future location technology that will ultimately push those services to places where GPS hasn’t been able to go.

What’s on the horizon is the new mobile broadband company, Lightsquared, that has been said to threaten GPS signals with interference from a neighboring spectrum. Lightsquared appears at first like it will solve a lot of problems to broadband, by offering cable – like bandwidth to mobile customers through LTE, a next generation wireless service. What’s more, the Obama administration has endorsed Lightsquared – which resides in the same spectrum that runs GPS, which is lower power and gets interference easily.


Apple acquisition of C3 Technologies for 3D mapping

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

In October, Apple publicly announced its acquisition of its third mapping company since 2009 when it acquired C3 Technologies. C3 Technologies is a 3D mapping technology, Apple’s second acquisition of 3D mapping, after Poly9 was acquired last year.

Although it has just been announced, the acquisition actually occurred last year and is said to be worth around $240 million. The acquisition is expected to change Apple’s relationship with Google Maps, from which it outsources technology for its GIS mapping technology. This could ultimately really change mapping on the iOS platform.

Some pundits call C3 Technologies’ mapping solutions “Google Maps on steroids,” as the video shows.

Apple said that it is working on a crowdsourced traffic database to improve its traffic mapping service and speculation suggests that they will use their mapping database provided by Placebase, another of their acquisitions. This would mean cutting ties with Google, but that shouldn’t be happening any time soon as Apple recently renewed its partnership with Google.

Creation of new iceberg captured by aerial imagery

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

On October 14, 2011, scientists participating in NASA’s IceBridge mission, saw a huge crack in the ice running about 29 kilometers (18 miles) as they flew across Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier in a DC-8 research plane.

“The rift was 80 meters (260 feet) wide on average, and 50 to 60 meters (165 to 195 feet) deep. It marks the moment of creation for a new iceberg that should eventually span about 880 square kilometers (340 square miles) once it breaks loose from the glacier.”

Witness the Birth of an Iceberg
Earth Imaging Journal

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