GISCafe Weekly Review September 14th, 2013

Seeing through the trees
September 13, 2013  by M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD

Successful mining exploration relies heavily on the accuracy of the geology map layer that depicts the spatial distribution of geologic units and structure. Often times, however, existing geologic maps vary in quality and accuracy due to differences in purpose of mapping, scale or level of details, inconsistency in nomenclatures, and types of map projection/registration. Conventional mapping methods of bringing existing geologic maps to the desired quality level or standard will entail a large amount of time and effort, and consequently will also drastically slow down mineral exploration. The creation of digital geology maps (map components: topography, structure, and lithology) from the desktop using interferometric syntehtic aperture radar (IFSAR or InSAR) provides a cost effective method, espeically in remote dense vegetated areas.

Rise in Geospatial ‘Big Data’ Calls for Solutions for Managing Information Overload
September 13, 2013  by Mladen Stojic, President of Hexagon Geospatial

As an industry buzzword, ‘Big Data’ has reached near ubiquity in nearly every sector, which is completely justified because large amounts of data have become a driving force for any large enterprise.

But just how big is ‘Big Data’?  If we look at the numbers, it can be quite astounding – reinforcing both the challenge and value of leveraging data.

For example, there are 2.7 Zetabytes of data exist in the digital universe today.  In one month, the Library of Congress collected 35 Terabytes of data. Consumer technology giants like Facebook store, accesses, and analyze 30+ Petabytes of user-generated data.  In addition, IDC estimates that by 2020, business transactions on the Internet will reach 450 billion per day.

Preliminary Planning
September 13, 2013  by Ryan Hamilton

As a medium resolution data set the NEXTMap® 5m terrain data plays an important role between high precision ground survey or LiDAR and lower resolution ‘free’ data. This sweet spot is the realm of preliminary planning or site location analysis when a project needs to be defined but not yet calculated. The use of the NEXTMap data during this initial phase may have higher upfront costs, but in the long run, the more precise a preliminary plan is the less re-work you will experience down the line. Site planning is just one of the many applications that the 5 meter data is suited for, and I will jump into others in following posts.

The Esri live Flood Public Information Map shows observed flood reports and current flood warnings from NOAA National Weather Service, active FEMA shelters, and live precipitation for Colorado.

Esri Live Flooding Public Information Map for Colorado

HP‘s Big Workstation Launch Wows ‘em In the Big Apple
September 12, 2013  by David Heller

This year’s HP workstation product launch event was the biggest I’ve ever attended, and the most exciting in terms of the revolutionary new product offerings presented and the people I met and interviewed.

We gathered early on Wednesday morning in a large hall in the NYC Sheraton Hotel, right in the midst of bustling Times Square, and to get the ball rolling were treated to speeches by some heavy hitting HP workstation users.

The Appetizer

Mark Russell – Director, Producer, and Vfx Expert

First at bat was Mark Russell, and he hit it out of the park.  Mark is an independent Vfx creator and supervisor who headed up the special effect team during filming and now working post production on the upcoming Martin Scorsese film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ that’s destined to become a blockbuster when it hits the theaters later this year.

We were treated to some video outtakes from this production that showcased the VFx work that Mark produced for this film that was primarily shot and produced on Long Island and in Manhattan, just a quick subway ride to Brooklyn where Mark lives.

When you watch the film you won’t know where reality ends and CG takes over, it’s done that well.  One series of fly-over shots  were taken of a mansion in the Hamptons with multiple takes from a 4-bladed radio controlled miniature helicopter equipped with a super high-definition camera that transmitted the video wirelessly to an HP workstation on the ground for processing and viewing in real time.  The mini-copter stays in the air for less than a minute before running out of juice and the ground crew had to plop in new batteries fast to get this small bird back in the air before the ‘magic’ light evaporated.  The perfect lighting conditions occur close to sunset and the perfect light window lasts only around thirty minutes, so the film crew had to be super organized to shot this series in the allotted time, and keeping everyone and everything organized was a major part of Mark’s job.  Oh, and they did make a rendered CG Model of the mansion that you can’t tell from the real thing for shots that the mini-copter just couldn’t cope with.

New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop, question and frisk” practices have prompted a lot of press and speeches, zeroing in on just what the statistics are on these people who have been stopped. So far the percentages are as follows: 53 percent of the people stopped by the NYPD in 2012 were black, 89 percent were innocent, 0.5 percent resulted in an arrest.

On Friday, March 18, 2013, a car bomb exploded in a busy luxury bus park in northeast Kano, Nigeria. The suicide attack by militant Islamist group Boko Haram killed nearly 40 people and was the most deadly attack by the group in Kano since its members went on a rampage against the city’s security forces in January 2012.

This post investigates this terrorist attack through the lens of DigitalGlobe’s FirstLook, a product that enables expert analyst assessments from two complementary intelligence capabilities: DigitalGlobe imagery intelligence and Recorded Future web intelligence. The result is a new and powerful geotemporal approach to analyzing catastrophic events.

DigitalGlobe satellite image of Kano taken 24 hours after the devastating bombing 

New Avenza free PDF Maps app 2.0 available
September 11, 2013  by Susan Smith

Tristan Lyttle, Applications Manager App for Avenza Systems, discussed the launch of PDF Maps app 2.0 for iOS, a popular free app that has incorporated suggestions made by its users to further enhance tracking features such as real-time tracking and notes on elevation. It is the only geospatial PDF and GeoTIFF reader on Apple iOS for travel, outdoor activities or business purposes out in the field.

“You don’t need a cell or wi-fi connection to locate yourself, while you are in a foreign city, out in the bush, or hiking, so the app will allow you to use its features as long as you have the app loaded beforehand,” explained Lyttle. He said Avenza has their own online map store. Since print maps are being made obsolete by digital media, “we are creating a way that maps can be taken advantage of – you can purchase maps in the map store and then use them in the field.”

With the latest updates in PDF Maps 2.0, these features are included:


  • Tracking real-time movement with GPS which includes noting speed and elevation statistics
  • Saving, exporting and importing tracks in KML format
  • Saving measurements to line data as well as importing and exporting lines in KML format
  • “Map Features” list for easy organization of placemarks, lines and tracks including folder enhancements
  • Improved export accuracy

Many vendors such as the U.S. Forest Service upload maps for seasonal use, for snowmobiling, motor vehicle use maps, cross country skiing maps, and hiking maps. Smaller vendors also have outdoor use maps that change winter to summer.

“We have a simple tool for users to contact us on the app with changes, and we will send their changes right over to the vendor, and the vendor makes the changes themselves,” said Lyttle.

Currently the app is only available on the iOS platform but an Android version is in beta version right now.

“The biggest feature we’ve just released in PDF Maps 2.0 is the GPS tracks which was the most widely requested feature,” said Lyttle. “It is the ability for the app to track you as you move while you’re on your map and drop a path that you could then add attributes to and export out for use in other GIS programs. You can export out as KML files or can share between other apps, that’s the iOS program. Android doesn’t have the degree of attribute customization that the iOS has and the measurement tool is not in the same spot. You can save measurements as features on your map and then export them. The biggest requests for the future are multi-page PDFs. Right now they have to be added as single page maps to the atlas. People want to be able load multi-pages, and have better compass functionality.”

The app can already import GeoPDFs. Since they are proprietary to Terrago, and they do their own annotation, it will depend upon the annotation already done before it can be imported.

 PDF Maps app 2.0 is available now on the iTunes App Store free of charge for personal and private use. Commerical, government and academic use licensing is available for a nominal fee. For more information about PDF Maps, visit the Avenza website at or the PDF Maps website at  Pricing of each map is set by the publisher and free maps remain free to users through the PDF Maps app in-app store.


Oil Palm plantations cover more than 700,000 hectares in East Sabah, Malaysia. Sabah also has the highest yield of oil palm fresh fruit bunch per hectare, in Asia. Moreover, oil palm crops are an important agriculture sector for the Malaysian economy in terms of export earnings, since it contributes to >30% of the total income from exports. Accurate and reliable three dimensional and near-real time geospatial information is needed for sustainable oil palm plantation management, especially on plant quality, health, and crop yield calculations.

Oil Palm

Fuse Data, Keep Your Hair
September 10, 2013  by Ryan Hamilton

If you have worked in GIS then you have probably fused raster elevation data. So, chances are that you have also torn your hair out if these data came from different sources and had accuracy biases or projection difference. Trying to get a seamless merging of two separate elevation sets is never as easy as it initially sounds. The problems can be as complex as the misalignment of the origin point in reprojection or a reference to pixel center vs. pixel corner. Or, they can be as simple as a vertical offset or a planar tilt.

Intermap® has worked very hard to simplify the data fusion process. Over the course of a couple years we have been developing a data fusion tool and a universal projector tool. With these tools now complete, we are able to reproject to hundreds of vertical and horizontal datums with validated precision. And, with our automated fusion tool the user loads the data and species the reference data then the tool does the rest. Overlapping areas area removed, vertical bias applied, data is tilted to minimize all edges around the fusion boundary and the remaining seams are blended to complete the process.

Autodesk announces new “Pay-as-you-go” rental model
September 10, 2013  by Susan Smith

This morning Autodesk announced a pay-as-you-go model for all the company’s desktop software including the latest Design and Creation Suites, Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Maya LT. A “hangout” was held this morning on Google this morning where Andrew Anagnost, SVP, Industry Strategy & Marketing for Autodesk and other industry specialists, discussed this new offering.

Businesses are increasingly adopting this type of model for consuming services and products as opposed to owning software. Options generally include renting, sharing or purchasing subscriptions such as this “pay-as-you-go” model. This way designers, engineers and architects no longer will have to be concerned about purchasing the next version of the software. New comers will also be able to get up and running on the software with few up-front costs, and get projects started with this software.

Trimble – Terraflex
Optech - Intergeo

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