Extend Your Imagery Assets to the Field

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Industry News
Extend Your Imagery Assets to the Field

By Susan Smith

TerraGo Technologies has evolved over the years from its begininngs as the creator of GeoPDF files that allow geospatial collaborations.

Today the company addresses the investments organizations have made in their data and their need to get the data the organization wants in the form it wants it in. In tough economic times, organizations must justify these hefty investments they’ve made or are planning to make in acquiring high quality imagery. Getting imagery out to the field is a challenge in and of itself. By making imagery data more useful to more people across the enterprise, decision makers are better able to justify the investment.

In a recent webcast, Chris Watson, vice president of marketing and business development for TerraGo, and Suzanne Henderson, vice president of engineering for TerraGo, spoke about their recent announcement of Publisher for Raster (formerly known as Map2PDF for Raster) product. The new solutoin will allow users to publish large geo-referenced or orthorectified images to a geo-referenced PDF file format (GeoPDF) so that it can be disseminated and used out in the field.

“We help organizations extend their investments by extending their availability and the value of their imagery assets,” explained Watson. “We’re talking about reaching beyond the traditional GIS savvy analyst all the way out to the edge of the enterprise where the average worker – inspector, farmer or emergency responder -- need access to the most current images just to do their daily jobs. We want to talk about some of the market dynamics that are driving this increase in demand for quality imagery and some of the resulting challenges that this demand is creating on many of you as you try to move in your daily jobs.”

Henderson demonstrated how TerraGo can help users take advantage of image files from many different sources and formats and publish them in portable, actionable file format called a GeoPDF, and how TerraGo offers an Adobe-based reader viewing tool that makes it easy to share, view and markup image files. Further, the webcast included a demo of field collected data can then be used for collaboration and for bringing data back into the system of record in geospatial collaboration payload.

Watson said that TerraGo has over 100 organizations using their raster solution today. The new release covers significant feature enhancements along with an emphasis on improved usability and customization capabilities.

The most popular types of imagery in use, according to the ASPRS industry forecast report, in which they surveyed over 500 professionals in the industry, are as follows: Landsat 7 came out as the most utilized form of imagery at 74%, followed by Landsat at 66%. Next on the list is DOI and Digital Globe which came in together at 62% and Modus and Spot 5 at 44%.

“Whatever the type of imagery you use, there is increase in demand,” said Watson. After Sept. 11 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, the average consumer began to recognize what value real time could provide. “We all watched on news as these images that were taken from hundreds of models up in space and came into our living rooms and showed us the devastation. Whether from an iPhone application or hundreds of image web stores on the market, consumer awareness is increasing, and consumers are expecting to get anytime anywhere access to their geospatial images.”

One of the biggest driving forces in this demand are Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth services, Watson said. “We can’t ignore the fact that these services have really helped popularize imagery in giving everyone with an internet connection access to a whole new perspective on the world. It’s not enough to see what your house looks like from space last year -- people want to see what it looks like today, and they want to see current images of where they’re going and what it will look like when they get there. And for the business and government workers like emergency responders or public safety officials or even city planners, they too are demanding greater access to more current imagery information to help them respond faster, and make better decisions.”

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)’s Imagery for the Nation initiative has created a whole new nationwide aerial imagery program that will collect and make generally avialable standard multi-resolution product sets. This imagery is a valuable asset, available in the public domain for anyone who knows how to use it.

Making large volumes of imagery available to a broader audience has its own set of challenges, according to Watson. “There is educatoin and training associated with the need to have informed resources, and it is essential to have a simple and easy way to share images with non-technical users. It’s also important to be able to rapidly pass large volumes of image files to and from the edge of your enterpise and have a significant impact on your IT infrastructre, whether bandwidth or specialized software.”

Watson said access to real time images can make a marked difference to inspectors in the field looking at crop damage or soldiers in the battlefield trying to get back to base safely. “Being able to push mobile ready images to the field resource in a disconnected environment is absolutely critical, she said.

When pairing large raster files with mobile workers in the field, the files must often need to be compressed and optimized for portability. TerraGo Publisher software makes it easy to take those large image libraries of large files such as those from the U.S. Army and NGA and create GeoPDF files that are portable, actionable and mobile. “This also reduces the pressure on your IT infrastructre to rapidly distribute large image files to remote areas throughout your enterprise,” said Watson.

Secondly, ease of use is a critical concern. The TerraGo toolbar is a free software app that is available to any one with Adobe Reader. Users can view, access and manipulate the files, and they’re able to do things like measure links and area and view different coordinate displays and other geospatial functions. “In fact more than 500,000 people currently use this software application from TerraGo and it’s on a gold CD at several U.S. defense agencies organizations,” said Watson.

The third feature of TerraGo Publisher for Raster is interactivity. Henderson said that you want your file to be able to deliver as much value to the technical analyst as it does to users. “By sharing geoPDF files wth a broad range of users they can act as human sensors for your team and you enable them to collect valuable, on the ground intelligence that can be easily sent back to you for incorporation into your system of record or combined with TerraGo mobile for inspectors, pipeline operators, soldiers, etc., whoever has the image in front of them while out in the field. They can capture intelligence in a spatially aawre environment that can help you improve the currency of your data exponentially.”

A project demonstrated by Henderson was for the U.S. Army and NGA who needed a better way to distribute their maps and images out to the edge, to their warfighters and mission planners.

Features of Publisher for Raster include:

Geospaital collaboration - The customer’s unique data can be exposed up through multiple applications using TerraGo’s Collaboration suite. Field personnel can make georeferenced annotations and share file updates with peers or GIS analysts in the field.

Custom configuration. With Publisher for Raster users can generate one or more geoPDF files from a single georeferenced image file. “The formats we supports today are ADRG, CADRG, CIB, IMG, MrSID, Midiff and NITF and TIFF. And in our preferences in this new release you can now set image defaults for each one of those file formats, so you can specify compression type and quality using JPEG inflate,” said Henderson. “You can also specify which GeoPDF toolbar your users will be using because we do have a lot of new coordinate systems we’re supporting in this release. If you’re using the old GeoPDF toolbar, it may not support some of the new coordinate systems so you’ll be using the new one. Also you have your image type so we can support grey scale as well as static and dynamic RGB, naming suffix so if you want to append a name to the end of your file as well as your print options, you’ll see that for each type of file that we have that you can specify those optoins.”

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