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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 »

Inmarsat satellite data key in locating Malaysian Flight MH370

March 27th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Fragments of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are believed to have been found in the Indian Ocean, according to a press conference by Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak. Inmarsat satellite data was instrumental in finding the debris. It is one of those events that baffles technologists, as the plane disappeared mysteriously two weeks ago, off the radar, and even now, the evidence is not conclusive that this debris belongs to the missing airliner.It is further proof that all the technology in the world cannot make sure of our safety and can also be manually turned off if someone has the desire to lose a plane.

Right after the aircraft disappeared, Inmarsat was involved in the search for the plane. Although the main aircraft communications addressing and reporting system  (which would usually transmit the plane’s position) was turned off, one of Inmarsat’s satellites continued to pick up a series of automated hourly ‘pings’ from a terminal on the plane, which would normally be used to synchronize timing information.

Inmarsat analyzed these pings and was thereby was able to establish that MH370 continued to fly for at least five hours after the aircraft left Malaysian airspace, and that it had flown along one of two ‘corridors’ – one arcing north and the other south. This was shown in various news reports, but this information was given by the Doppler effect, the change in frequency due to the movement of a satellite in orbit. This gave two predicted paths for the flight – one northerly and one southerly route. Inmarsat engineers came up with this prediction which had never been done before, according to senior vice president of external affairs at Inmarsat, Chris McLaughlin. He said that the technology to track position and speed of the aircraft can be made available on planes for less than a dollar and hour.  The plane was reportedly flying at a cruising height above 30,000 feet.

Although this information was given to Malaysian officials by March 12, the Malaysian government did not acknowledge it publicly until March 15, according to the Wall Street Journal. This delay in responding has been sharply criticized in the press and is thought to have contributed to a considerable loss of valuable time in recovering the lost aircraft.

Inmarsat’s engineers continued with their further analysis of the pings and came up with a much more detailed Doppler effect model for the northern and southern paths. They compared these models with the trajectory of other aircraft on similar routes and were able to confirm a matching between Inmarsat’s predicted southerly path with reading from other planes on that same route.

These pings from the satellite coupled with assumptions about the plane’s speed, made it possible for  Australia and the US National Transportation Safety Board to narrow down the search area to just 3 per cent of the southern corridor on March 18th.

“We worked out where the last ping was, and we knew that the plane must have run out of fuel before the next automated ping, but we didn’t know what speed the aircraft was flying at – we assumed about 450 knots,” said McLaughlin. “We can’t know when the fuel actually ran out, we can’t know whether the plane plunged or glided, and we can’t know whether the plane at the end of the time in the air was flying more slowly because it was on fumes.”

The analysis was given to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) by Inmarsat this week. So far, the cause of the crash remains unknown.

LizardTech’s Express Server 9 software to be featured at ASPRS 2014 Annual Conference

March 24th, 2014 by Susan Smith

LizardTech will showcase its Express Server® 9 software at ASPRS 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky this year. Express Server is an image-delivery software for compressed raster imagery, including multispectral imagery.

In the latest version is the ExpressZip web application for exporting imagery straight from the web browser as well as offering improved upgrade functionality. The process of migrating all image catalogs automatically is part of the upgrade functionality, making it easier for users to install their new version of Express Server. They won’t have to manually update all their catalogs during upgrade. Also, Express Server integrates with third party applications such as ArcGIS Server to speed up the delivery of raster imagery.

New features of CityCAD

March 21st, 2014 by Susan Smith

Holistic City Limited has just announced their latest release of CityCAD, version 2.6.

Several sharp improvements characterize this release as well as stability and performance upgrades:

  • New samples have been added to the settings library (different kinds of residential and mixed-use blocks with a variety of detailed building perimeter objects) to make it easier to get up and running quickly.

Read the rest of New features of CityCAD

Esri launches climate-focused Geo-collaboration portal

March 19th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Esri is launching a comprehensive effort to help communities work smarter and more efficiently, therefore growing their resilience, in response to the White House Climate Data Initiative. The GIS company is also launching a climate-focused geo-collaboration portal today, March 19th.

The White House Climate Data Initiative is one of the most important and timely initiatives of our times. In its community outreach, Esri plans to focus its initial efforts on 12 large and small communities, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Wake County, North Carolina; and Tamarac, Florida, to develop practical methods and approaches based on GIS technology that address the most critical requirements of the communities. Esri will continue its plan by publishing a series of maps and apps developed in conjunction with these communities that will be shared openly. Communities around the world can use the solutions to make progress toward becoming more resilient.

Read the rest of Esri launches climate-focused Geo-collaboration portal

Women in GIS crowd-sourced map

March 14th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Dr. Linda Loubert, PH.D from Morgan State University created Women in GIS: Helping Map a Better World, an interactive and crowd-sourced map that features women in making influential impacts using GIS in education, business, non-profits, and government. Thousands of women around the world are geographic information systems professionals.

Women are encouraged to contribute their information to the map, which has been created on Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform.

PolicyMap Release is a One-Stop Shop for a Variety of Data

March 13th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Maggie McCullough, President of PolicyMap, talked about the latest release of their product. The company has been around since 2007, and today’s release is a significant update, as not much has changed in the product since its inception.

PolicyMap 3-Layer Map

PolicyMap is a one-stop-shop for a huge variety of public and commercial data (15,000 datasets), as well as the tools to map this data.

“PolicyMap is an online tool that allows anyone, particularly non-experts, the ability to easily make data rich maps on the web,” said McCullough. “Our customers are not GIS specialists or analysts. They tend to be public policy analysts and the end user who is really looking to understand data in a particular geography for specific purposes. So when we launched in 2007 we learned what people want to do with maps and the kinds of data they want access to. We have grown the business to include a lot of public users. We offer a lot for free, have a lot of government agencies, commercial organizations, a growing number of universities and non-profits.” Read the rest of PolicyMap Release is a One-Stop Shop for a Variety of Data

HP releases new HP LaserJet Pro MFP M476 Color Laser Device

March 7th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Brian Sahr, Future Product Marketing Manager, HP LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions, talked last week about the new release of the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M476 color laser device, delivering simple wireless printing from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, available this spring. The new MFP M476 addresses the following four key trends in the industry:

1)   Mobility — A number of workers are going to mobility. 70% of the worldwide workforce is now mobile. That’s changing how people want to interact.

2)    Cloud and big data – Most information now is in the cloud. From the printing and imaging standpoint, customers want to scan to the cloud and bring information into the cloud. Read the rest of HP releases new HP LaserJet Pro MFP M476 Color Laser Device

TomTom announces strategic partnership with indoor mapping leader Micello Inc.

March 6th, 2014 by Susan Smith

TomTom (TOM2) has announced a strategic partnership with worldwide indoor mapping leader, Micello Inc., extending the reach of its mapping products to include indoor venues.

TomTom’s business customers will now be able to use Micello’s pedestrian-friendly indoor maps and venue content with points-of-interest data worldwide.

From the press release: “The indoor mapping functionality means that step-by-step guidance can be integrated into daily life for a wide variety of venues, including shopping malls, airports and retail stores,” said Charles Cautley, Managing Director TomTom Maps. “By partnering with Micello our customers can now develop smarter apps and locations-based services helping users navigate with ease in and out of the car.”

Read the rest of TomTom announces strategic partnership with indoor mapping leader Micello Inc.

The need to map data sends Dallas police senior Cpl. to school to learn GIS

February 26th, 2014 by Susan Smith

GIS has changed how law enforcement fights crime.  Investigators now rely on actionable intelligence for mapping and analyzing crime patterns. Senior Cpl. DJ Beaty of the Dallas Police Department knew that none of his department’s officers had GIS degrees or training and decided he wanted to be the first to do so.

As a neighborhood police officer, Senior Cpl. Beaty got involved with various neighborhoods’ crime watch programs. Many citizens wanted to see crime statistics on a map so they could get an idea of patterns and trends of criminal activity in their geographic areas.

Senior Cpl. Beaty, police GIS and geospatial analyst for the Dallas Police Department, said, “It was obvious that we needed an ability to be able to map crime data and present maps to community members. My skills as a neighborhood police officer and my time in covert operations translated well to the field of GIS.” Read the rest of The need to map data sends Dallas police senior Cpl. to school to learn GIS

Esri’s Geotrigger Service now available

February 24th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Esri announced its cloud-based Geotrigger Service is now available, making it easier for developers to add location awareness and messaging to their iPhone and Android apps. With the Geotrigger Software Development Kit (SDK), mobile apps can send custom messages when a user enters or leaves locations specified by the application developer.

Read the rest of Esri’s Geotrigger Service now available

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