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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Leica Image Manager Solves Key Business Challenges for the Enterprise
by Susan Smith
Leica Image Manager (LIM) is an achievement of joint development involving the technologies Leica has acquired over the last year, integrating technologies built by Leica with technologies gained by the acquisitions of ER Mapper and Ionic.
“Leica Image Manager is the first offspring of the union of these companies, and Leica Image Manager’s purpose in life is to find, describe, catalog and graphically deliver imagery to both users inside and outside of an organization,” said Mladen Stojic, senior vice president, product management and marketing, Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging. This is done securely and interoperably, arranged so that people can find data and imagery easily and deliver it using OGC and image delivery protocols such as ECWP contained within the Image Web Server product built by ER Mapper. LIM is a service oriented architecture (SOA) platform which allows integrators and partners to extend the application and build vertical markets out of the box.
Key business problems solved for the enterprise with this application include data management and retrieval, knowing where data is, domain knowledge, scalability, security and sharing geospatial data with other agencies, departments and clients.
“Many of the organizations that use our products today have a lot of content produced by a lot of different departments contained within the organization,” Stojic explained. “Not only do they have a lot of data, they have data in a variety of different formats, and it really becomes difficult for non-traditional types of users within organizations to get the right data in the application of their choice when they need it.”
Stojic said Leica Image Manager will help standardize data so that people can access, discover, and retrieve it in their application of choice.
Finding data is a problem for most people, he said. “If you start most GIS , remote sensing, photogrammetry or CAD applications, there’s always a place where you are looking at a file open and you are subsequently looking at a network drive or a directory.”
“The key assumption in all these applications is that you know where all the data is, and you know what the data is,” Stojic pointed out. “One of the things we hope to solve is to know where the data is. We find the data for an organization, we catalog that data and make it discoverable for many users to actually access that content. We look at security - many people in a lot of organizations spent a lot of money on this content and they want to preserve the investment they’ve made by ensuring that the content and the fidelity associated with the content is maintained.” This means not everyone can go in and manipulate the content or delete files. “Our system is very secure, secure to the point that you can access who can look at the data, who can find the data, and retrieve the data. We provided IT administrators the ability to secure the application, thereby preserving the investment made with the content that is made by a particular organization.”
Scalability fits in with domain knowledge, as in the geospatial space, where the challenge is to scale an application so it meets the demand of the organization as it grows. By leveraging IT standards, the Leica Image Server works off existing IT domain specifications with application servers. Scalability is possible through leveraging the existing IT structure, and putting application servers in a cluster to meet the demands of the organization.
Another challenge is that geospatial information has traditionally not been shared outside the department that generated it.
L I M abstracts geospatial information into a standardized data model, thereby extending the reach of geospatial content to users outside the geospatial department who may have a need for that content. The application centralizes metadata, thereby making the data discoverable in an OGC and ISO interoperable form.
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Customers for Image Manager range from the public sector to defense, and oil and gas. Whether large or small, organizations with users distributed around the world are good candidates for LIM.
Those countries building spatial data infrastructures (SDI) may have a need for this type of solution of a standardized interface and model for managing imagery, with access to imagery for others within the SDI.
LIM supports a massive amount of data, and a fine grained security model allowing users to manage permissions for different types of users throughout an organization. Also, the LIM is equipped with crawlers that “crawl” a network or crawl an organization to find data and subsequently harvest metadata based on what was found.
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The LIM system is comprised of three primary components: a web component built off some of the web technology acquired over the past year, the Red Spider Image Archive and the ER Mapper Image Web Server product. The three-tier system supports data from a variety of different sources.
From the client perspective, LIM supports a variety of different domain and web applications from ArcMap to Autodesk, that can consume data from LIM. OGC web clients are supported and clients that have built in protocols to support reading WMS and WCS are available. Leica’s own client is built off the Red Spider enterprise product, plus they have a client built off Eclipse. With the release of ERDAS Imagine 9.2, that product includes GeoServices Explorer which allows an ERDAS Imagine customer to both find data contained within a variety of services, including: Image Web Server (IWS), OGC – Web Services data, and catalog, retrieve and exploit it within the ERDAS Imagine application.
What is significant about the Leica Imager Manager is its interoperability, according to Stojic. OGC, CSW, WMS and WCS are contained within one package, including broad security, and the server application lives inside an application server. ECWP also has the ability to rapidly deliver thousands and thousands of images through that ECWP protocol. The ability to support different raster formats, the inclusion of crawlers and harvesters to describe data into an ISO metadata standard are all in one package.
Key features within LIM:
GI Data Crawlers – automate discovery of GI, harvesting of metadata, provisioning for optimization in web services (pyramids), publishing to the services, security settings. Fully repetitive, scheduled server process.
Catalog (CS-W ebRIM Profile) – central, hierarchical index of data and service metadata with security. CS-W is the web service for searching and retrieving metadata.