April 13, 2009
Online Mapping Sites Extend the Reach of Geospatial Data
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Online Mapping Sites Extend the Reach of Geospatial Data

By Susan Smith

As the world turns, satellites maintain their fixed orbits to image a wide swath of the earth’s surface, then displayed by online mapping sites or geographic search engines. Productivity tools for mission-critical defense applications rely on enterprise data search capability linked to customized geospatial views provided by those same geographic search engines. Users of ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server now have the opportunity to connect directly to Microsoft Virtual Earth and thereby gain fast access to that site’s content for their geospatial projects in order to perform spatial analysis.

Recent announcements highlight ways these online mapping sites provide dynamic base map data on which to layer geospatial data for real time analysis and visualization. Also announced, new high resolution satellite imagery from GeoEye-1 is being delivered to Google Earth.

An announcement this week which extends the reach of geospatial data was made by NCI, Inc., provider of IT technology and services to U.S. Federal government agencies. The firm has been awarded an extension to its task order for the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to develop cutting-edge search and geospatial visualization capability for the Joint Information Operations Warfare Command (JIOWC) at Lackland, AFB, TX. This task order award is shared under the U.S. Air Force Network-Centric (NETCENTS) solutions contract with partners Google and Next Tier (NT) Concepts.

The job of the NCI team will be to link and create searchable web applications and web-based portals with information from external databases and other enterprise data sources. Google Earth Enterprise and Google Enterprise Search are used by these applications to integrate a customer enterprise data search capability linked to customized geospatial views and visualization for critical customer information. NCI essentially incorporates both Google Enterprise Search and Google Earth Enterprise technologies into a single productivity tool that can be integrated with Department of Defense mission-focused applications. This combination of behind-the-firewall enterprise data search and
geospatial display from an online mapping site ramps up critical real-time information analysis and visualization. NT Concepts is a technology services firm that offers custom application development, geospatial information systems, and tailored eLearning solutions.

Although ESRI offers its own ArcGlobe, Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth have extended GIS farther than the ESRI product perimeter.

A new agreement gives ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server users the chance to be able to connect directly to Microsoft Virtual Earth and gain fast access to that site’s content for their geospatial projects. The agreement gives ArcGIS Desktop users who are current on maintenance and have an Internet connection access to Virtual Earth access to mapping content including aerial imagery, roads, and hybrid (aerial with labels) imagery. They will also have to opportunity to perform spatial analysis on this dynamic data.

Dynamic base maps will appear as another data layer in a GIS, onto which users can overlay their other operational data. The data can then be shared online with other users in the company.

ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Web SDKs allow users to build web applications that support geospatial services, and enable them to provide clients with access to Virtual Earth content from their applications, using APIs for JavaScript, Flex, and Microsoft Silverlight. The integration of Virtual Earth across all ArcGIS products gives users of spatial analysis software access to up-to-date geographic data. Plus, Virtual Earth geocoding and place-finding functionality are available to ArcGIS Server users.

ArcGIS users can preview Virtual Earth street maps, imagery, and hybrid map layers at

click to enlarge [

Cairo, Egypt imaged by GeoEye-1
In a recent announcement, GeoEye, Inc. reported that it has begun delivering its high-resolution, color satellite imagery from its newest GeoEye-1 satellite to Google. The images were all taken within the last 60 days and include images of the Pyramids of Giza, Mount Fuji, Sydney Australia, and many other recognizable locations. Examples of imagery can be seen at this

According to press materials, the images were all taken from 423 miles in space as GeoEye-1 moved around the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour, encompassing a 15.2 kilometer swath. The 4,300-pound GeoEye-1 satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on Sept. 6, 2008.

Most of the imagery collected by GeoEye-1 has been contracted by the National Spatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) and is available in the company’s public archive. Primarily, GeoEye meets their demands for billions of square kilometers of imagery every month.

A new dynamic search and discovery tool on the website, GeoFUSE, allows customers to purchase imagery from the archive, which includes all imagery collected since the first IKONOS satellite was launched in 1999.

Unlike competing DigitalGlobe who has a partnership with both Google Earth and Microsoft, GeoEye maintains an exclusive relationship with Google so they cannot sell GeoEye-1 imagery to other online mapping sites. This agreement gives Google the right to display GeoEye-1 imagery on their site.

Mark Brender, GeoEye’s vice president for communications and marketing, said that Google has “special areas of interest” that GeoEye will make an effort to address.

Expanding Markets

Current markets for geospatial data continue to be oil and gas, mapping, defense and intelligence, and environmental monitoring. Brender suggests that infrastructure could be an interesting new market for satellite imagery, driven by the $787 billion Stimulus Plan. According to MAPPS, $73 billion of that figure will be used in some type of geospatial context.

Brender said that the mapping search engines have created awareness of geospatial technology that the industry could not have created on its own. Although in the case of GeoEye-1, new markets will not appear because ground resolution goes from .8 to .50, but providing enhanced data adds to an overall in capabilities which will extend the reach of the technology.

Overall, concluded Brender, “It’s the magic of increased bandwidth, satellite imagery, and the mapping search engines finally bringing satellite imagery down to earth and the capabilities of the satellites themselves that intertwine to create a new awareness and open up new imagery uses.”

Top News of the Week

eSpatial announced the world’s first full-function Web GIS as a software as a service (SaaS) at CTIA Wireless Conference, April 1-3 at the Ireland Pavilion, Central Hall, C3 Booth #6310.

With eSpatial’s Web GIS as SaaS, Telcos can integrate geographic and related business data from a variety of sources and present it in a controlled manner over the web. Departments can migrate core aspects of planning and engineering and other key workflows to a single shared environment and therefore increase efficiency in network rollout processes for design, planning, optimization and maintenance.

ERDAS Inc. announced the release of ERDAS Software 2009, Version 9.3.2, featuring the complete portfolio of Geospatial Business Systems for authoring, managing, connecting and delivering information. This includes new releases of ERDAS IMAGINE, LPS, ERDAS ER Mapper, ERDAS Extensions for ArcGIS, ERDAS APOLLO and ERDAS Image Web Server.

SeaZone’s GeoTemporal software allows easy import, processing and presentation of marine data from multiple sources. It then creates standard formatted data so that the information can be used in different Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Previously only highly end specialist software programs had existed and offered limited data interchange capability.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

ESRI (UK) has acquired
Digital Worlds International (DWI) Ltd , a leader in the development and delivery of GIS as a teaching tool for UK schools.

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