GISCafe Weekly Review November 26th, 2015

Enterprise System Assessment

This blog entry will focus on the first step of the Geospatial Solutions Data Life Cycle – Assessment.

Organizations all over the world are starting to recognize significant value in geospatial solutions and how geospatial solutions create efficiencies in the management of business operations. However, as organizations deploy geospatial solutions such as orthophotography / orthoimagery, land cover map databases, aerial LiDAR, oblique aerial photography, planimetric mapping and 3D Cities, many variables will affect the organization’s ability to take advantage of the efficiencies provided by geospatial solutions.

A successful Enterprise System Assessment is based on well-defined user needs, functional requirements, and application specifications. In order for clients to get the most success out of Big Geospatial Data, they must first understand their current position and decide on an approach that complements their business operations. This is a critical stage of the lifecycle, as it will provide input for the remainder of the cycle, which includes data acquisition, analysis, distribution and maintenance. The assessment phase will ensure the development of the best solution to fit the organization’s needs.

There are three potential outcomes when completing this assessment: under-engineering, which will not allow the organization to achieve the full efficiencies desired; over-engineering which likely will have cost implications; and peripheral vision, which is designed to ensure that the organization’s related systems are taken into context when creating the requirements for the eventual solution.

Under-engineering the geospatial solutions requirement is one of the highest risks when completing the assessment. The risk is so high because organizations tend to fall into a trap that focuses purely on budget requirements. While there is no escaping the limitations on funding, many organizations have purchased a solution based upon a budget, rather than based upon the organization’s needs. If this error is made, significant money may be spent on a solution that provides no efficiencies to the organization. This effectively means that all money spent on the solution was wasted. An easy example of this unfortunate scenario is the purchase of orthophotography / orthoimagery. It is much less costly to purchase a 1-meter resolution image compared to a 15 cm (6-inch) resolution. However, the 15 cm image provides the ability to identify many more features. As a result, if your only user need dictates the ability to see manholes, purchasing the 1-meter image is a complete waste of money because manholes are not visible. The opposite holds true, as well – over-engineering the solution is a way to waste money, too.

High Res Imagery vs Low Res Imagery

High Resolution vs. Low Resolution Imagery

Over-engineering the geospatial solution is a common issue encountered by business operations. Electing to go with the most accurate, highest quality, most expensive solution is not always in the best interest of the organization either. The enterprise system assessment should identify what is needed, and the organization should use the assessment as a baseline for the geospatial solution creation. As an example, many organizations use 3D Cities building data to meet their geospatial needs. However, there are many levels of quality and associated cost for 3D Cities building data. An organization may have a need to complete geometric wind modeling. Based upon this need, a fully textured structure is not required as these models cost significantly more than the building geometry alone. While the textured building models provide a more visually appealing solution, the additional cost is not warranted for the customer that only needs to conduct geometric modeling. Similar to over- and under-engineering issues discussed above, clearly understanding the peripheral systems and the context to which they will interact with the Geospatial Solutions is an important aspect of the assessment.

3D Buildings

Geometric 3D Model vs. Geometric and Textured 3D model

Wikipedia defines the term Peripheral Vision as being the part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze. Sanborn is using this terminology to expand on the idea that there may be systems that sit on the periphery of the geospatial solution that may not be apparent when looking only at the organizational needs. One must look at the bigger picture, and include the peripheral needs, in order to have the context for the Geospatial Solution to be created. An example of this could be relational databases, IT infrastructure and hardware, or even software systems. One of the simplest illustrations for this issue can be seen when organizations purchase large data such as LiDAR Survey / LiDAR Mapping. A LiDAR survey may be comprised of many Terabytes of data, with individual file sizes of several gigabytes. Identifying storage requirements, software limitations and overall CPU configuration to take advantage of the data will be important factors to consider during the assessment phase.

In conclusion, the Enterprise System Assessment can be used for sophisticated GIS system creation. It can also be used to identify specific data needs, as understanding business context is important when designing a geospatial solution. Whether the organization is starting from scratch, or looking to enhance their Geospatial solution, the assessment phase will help identify the business needs at hand and maximize the efficiency desired by the solution.

Check back soon for Part 2 – Data Acquisition…

France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The conference is crucial because the expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C, a level that would ensure safety of the planet’s fragile resources. If that level is not achieved, it could have devastating consequences on world populations and survival.

One of the challenges of the Paris agreement, where heads of state will all gather, will be to establish a periodic – ideally five-year – review mechanism to raise the ambition of each Party and progressively improve the collective effort toward keeping global warming below 2°C.

Each country represented will obviously have reasons to participate but also issues, largely economic and political, that may create a climate of resistance to the review mechanism.

Sample of SPCL data with density of 45 pt/m2 using Sigma Space Corp.  system, "HIRQLS".

Sample of SPCL data with density of 45 pt/m2 using Sigma Space Corp. system, “HIRQLS”.

Do not feel intimidated with the names, but Geiger Mode Lidar (GML) and Single Photon Counting Lidar (SPCL) are no different from any other lidar in the sense that they deliver point cloud data for light-reflective ground surfaces. In layman’s terms, GML and SPCL are lidar systems that utilize a Focal Plane Array concept that is similar to a digital camera. Instead of a single detector, as is the case with the current linear lidar, both GML and SPCL utilize an array of detectors to receive the split pulse. In these new lidar systems, each laser pulse gets split into multiple sub-pulses to increase the data density and ground resolution. Depending on the system architecture and optics design, the pulse gets split either on departure or after it reflects back before it reaches the detectors.

Teledyne Optech
Canon: Productive All-in-one Large Format Printing

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