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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Airbus Launches Pléiades Neo Next to Enhance Satellite Constellation

 
May 14th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

During the 2024 GeoINT Symposium in Orlando, Airbus unveiled its ambitious initiative, the Pléiades Neo Next program, aiming to expand and enhance its high-resolution Earth observation satellite constellation.

The announcement sets  the stage for the future of global satellite imagery services. Nicolas Jaunard, Head of Marketing Geospatial Products & Services at Airbus, provided detailed insights into the new program during an interview at the event. The Pléiades Neo Next initiative seeks to build on the success of Airbus’s current Pléiades Neo constellation, with a focus on significantly improved resolution, targeting a broad range of applications from defense and intelligence to commercial uses.

An image captured by Pléiades Neo shows 30cm resolution over the Twickenham stadium and surrounding area in London. Pléiades Neo © Airbus DS 2024

Airbus plans to launch the first satellite of this next-generation constellation in the upcoming years, promising advancements that will outpace the existing capabilities. Jaunard pointed out the commitment to maintaining the best resolution available in the market, which currently stands at 30cm optical resolution. He noted that with Pléiades Neo Next, these specifications will be enhanced even further, though specifics about the new resolution levels were not revealed during the interview.

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Innovations in Robotics and AI Propel the Future of Underwater Exploration

 
May 8th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

At the recent Xponential 2024 Conference, I had the opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of underwater robotics with two leading figures in the field: Neil Manning, CEO of Cellula Robotics, and Robert Judd, Chief Operating Officer of Metron. Both companies are at the forefront of technological advancements that could redefine how we explore and monitor the world’s waters.

Metron: Pioneers in Sensor Processing, Advanced Mathematics and Autonomous Systems

Metron, a seasoned player in the defense sector, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Originating from the expertise of two mathematicians, the company has significantly expanded to over 200 employees. The primary focus of the Company today lies in analytics, autonomy, sensor processing, data fusion and target tracking. The multi-domain expertise was a significant differentiator in developing sophisticated mission planning and advanced software systems for defense applications.

Robert Judd elaborated on Metron’s evolution, highlighting their diverse applications of mathematics and computer science. “Our largest focus is on what we call advanced mathematics, utilizing it for mission planning and other systems, mostly software that we deliver to our defense customers,” Judd said. “This encapsulates a strategic blend of AI and machine learning capabilities, which Metron has developed over four decades, predating the current AI boom.”

ANCC + Solus Long-Duration UUV – Credit: Metron Inc.

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Pioneering Precision: SmartDrone’s Commitment to the Future of Surveying

 
May 2nd, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

In an exclusive interview with Rob Cammack, CEO of SmartDrone, a trailblazer in the drone manufacturing industry, insights were shared on the company’s journey, its innovative solutions, and the future of commercial drones in a changing global landscape.

Discovery 3

Founded in February 2020, just before the world ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SmartDrone faced unprecedented challenges as a startup. “It was really a lot to work through for a startup when you were locked down and couldn’t really access your customers or get your engineering team together in a physical location,” Cammack explained. Yet, these challenges also birthed unexpected opportunities. Supply chain disruptions prompted the company to enhance in-house development, significantly strengthening its manufacturing resilience.

SmartDrone, based in Tyler, Texas, prides itself on its three main business divisions: manufacturing, services, and soon-to-launch data processing. Their flagship product, the Discovery 3 integrated LiDAR platform, was developed closely with land surveyors to ensure it meets their specific needs. “We interviewed over 50 land surveyors during development… it’s the easiest platform for a land surveyor. They can learn it in less than a day, be doing jobs that day, and create their own deliverables the next day,” Cammack noted.

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New Era in Aviation: Aligning Strategies for Airspace Integration

 
April 25th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

At the recent Xponential 2024 conference in San Diego, key industry and regulatory figures discussed the future of aviation, focusing on the integration of emerging technologies like drones and eVTOLs (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft) into existing airspace systems. The conference emphasized the need for cohesive strategies and safety standards to realize this next era of aviation successfully.

Matt Land from Eve Air Mobility highlighted the strides his company is making in urban air mobility. Eve, a spin-off from the world’s third-largest aircraft manufacturer, is not only developing eVTOLs but also rolling out software solutions like Vector for urban air traffic management. With nearly 1,000 employees, Eve is slated to bring its eVTOLs into service by 2026, underscoring the importance of favorable legislation at all governmental levels to support initial operations and growth.

Legislative Hurdles and Opportunities in the Evolving Aviation Industry

As the aviation industry stands on the precipice of a significant transformation with the introduction of drones and eVTOLs, legislative support and regulatory clarity are crucial. However, the path to harmonizing existing laws with emerging technologies is fraught with challenges and opportunities. A closer look at the legislative landscape reveals the intricate dynamics at play.

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Shaping the Future: Strategic Acquisitions and Technological Integrations Transform Geospatial and Engineering Sectors

 
April 5th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

In the realm of engineering and geospatial services, recent strategic moves are signaling a new era of innovation and collaboration that stands to reshape the landscape of infrastructure development, national security, and environmental management. The announcement from Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. about its acquisition of Surdex Corporation is a pivotal moment, indicating a significant expansion of Bowman’s capabilities into high-altitude digital imagery, digital mapping, and advanced geospatial services.

Surdex Corporation, with its long-standing reputation for precision and innovation in geospatial solutions, brings to Bowman a wealth of expertise and technological capabilities. Surdex’s history of deploying state-of-the-art technology for digital orthoimagery, advanced high-resolution LiDAR, and digital mapping services positions Bowman to significantly enhance its service offerings. The integration of Surdex’s technologies and expertise is expected to provide Bowman with unparalleled capabilities in delivering comprehensive geospatial solutions, catering to a wide range of sectors including infrastructure planning, disaster response, and environmental studies.

The strategic acquisition is not just a testament to Bowman’s ambition to lead in the engineering services industry but also underscores the growing importance of geospatial technologies in understanding and managing the built and natural environments more effectively. With Surdex’s extensive experience serving public sector clients, including the US Department of Agriculture and the US Geological Survey, Bowman is set to increase its footprint in the public sector, aligning with its strategic objectives.

Parallel to Bowman’s expansion, the enhanced collaboration between Esri and Autodesk through the integration of ArcGIS Basemaps into Civil 3D and AutoCAD marks a significant leap forward in the convergence of GIS and BIM technologies. This integration empowers AEC professionals with richer, more detailed geospatial data, enabling more informed decision-making and fostering the development of sustainable, efficient infrastructure. The collaborative efforts of Esri and Autodesk are indicative of a broader trend towards interoperability in technology platforms, facilitating a seamless flow of information across different stages of project development from planning to construction.

Furthermore, NV5 Global, Inc.’s acquisition of GIS Solutions, Inc. marks a significant development in the landscape of geospatial services, underscoring the increasing value of tech-enabled solutions in contemporary infrastructure and environmental management projects. This strategic move not only enhances NV5’s portfolio in terms of technical capabilities but also aligns with its vision to dominate the high-margin, rapidly scalable services sector within the engineering and consulting industry.

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Intel Unleashes the Power of Speed: The Core i9-14900KS Sets New Standards for Desktop Performance

 
March 14th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

In the realm of desktop computing, speed and power are the twin pillars upon which the ultimate user experience rests. Today, Intel has once again affirmed its commitment to these principles with the announcement of its Intel® Core™ 14th Gen i9-14900KS processors, heralding a new epoch in desktop processor speeds.

Intel’s latest marvel, the i9-14900KS, bursts through previous boundaries by offering a staggering 6.2 gigahertz (GHz) max turbo frequency straight out of the box. This isn’t just another incremental step forward; it’s a giant leap that cements Intel’s status as the purveyor of the world’s fastest desktop processor. For the legion of PC enthusiasts, gamers, and content creators, this represents not just an upgrade but a transformation in what they can expect from their desktop systems.

Intel Core 14th Gen i9-14900KS Special Edition Unlocked Desktop Processor Provides Record-Breaking 6.2GHz frequency right out of the box – giving high-end PC enthusiasts the cutting edge power they look for in their desktops. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

“The Intel Core i9-14900KS showcases the full power and performance potential of the Intel Core 14th Gen desktop processor family and its performance hybrid architecture,” says Roger Chandler, Intel’s vice president and general manager of the Enthusiast PC and Workstation Segment. His words underscore a fundamental truth about today’s computing demands: they are evolving, and Intel is leading the charge in meeting these demands head-on.

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Climate Commitment and Innovation Take Center Stage at Esri Fed GIS Conference

 
March 1st, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

In a notable gathering at the 2024 Esri Federal GIS Conference, attendees were treated to a compelling discussion on the transformative role of open data, geospatial technology, and climate policy. The event spotlighted two influential figures: John Podesta, a key architect of the open data movement under President Obama, and Tonya Wilkinson, the Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), who both shared their insights and experiences in leveraging GIS for national security, environmental justice, and climate action.

Charting a Sustainable Future: Innovation, Policy, and Climate Action in the Digital Age

John Podesta, a pivotal figure in advancing the open data movement under President Obama, delivered an engaging and insightful keynote at the 2024 Esri Fed GIS Conference. Podesta, whose illustrious career includes roles as Chief of Staff for President Clinton and a senior advisor on international climate policy, chose to forgo a traditional presentation in favor of a candid conversation about his experiences and the pressing issue of climate change.

Podesta emphasized the significant strides made in combating the climate crisis under the current administration, particularly highlighting the Inflation Reduction Act’s role in fostering innovation and manufacturing within the green sector. This legislative move, according to Podesta, has not only positioned the United States as a leader in climate action but has also catalyzed a global shift towards cleaner energy sources.

The conversation delved into the intricacies of implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and the ongoing efforts to ensure its benefits reach all communities across America, underscoring the importance of environmental justice. Podesta shared insights into the challenges and complexities of coordinating domestic and international climate policies, reflecting on his collaboration with figures like Secretary John Kerry and the broader governmental apparatus to create a more sustainable and livable planet.

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GISCafe Predictions 2024 – 1Spatial

 
February 7th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

By Seb Lessware, CTO (Chief Technology Officer), 1Spatial

Seb Lesswar

What lies ahead for 2024? It’s all about Geospatial AI: Navigating the Future of Automation, Drones, and Data Aggregation
I predict that all the other predictions will focus on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and it’s hard not to with so much new hype last year. In fact, in my previous years’ predictions, I highlighted that we would see some use-cases for AI in the industry grow while others fall short, depending on the available data. What it didn’t predict was the explosion of interest in Large Language Models made accessibly by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and this will certainly help boost many tasks involving humans interfacing with machines – but it is still a ‘language model’ and not a spatial model. This means that it can help empower users for tasks such as documentation, code, and script writing, or helping interact with complex systems such as for analytics or schema matching, which are generic tasks and not unique to the Geospatial industry.
Meanwhile, truly geospatial uses of AI will be in two principal areas:

  • Digitising unstructured data such as imagery, point clouds or PDFs into structured spatial content: This has been happening steadily for a long time though it has never quite achieved the levels of accuracy and automation that were hoped for. It’s used more for anomaly detection (e.g. does the video show a crack in this pipe? Do these trees overhang the railway?) but maybe that continued improvements will make mostly automated data capture and (more importantly) data update and maintenance more achievable.
  • Using structured spatial data for analytics and inference: This is an area of opportunity to automate more tasks that are currently manual and require good-quality structured spatial data as input, as well as many examples of ‘the right thing’ to train the models. We expect to do more of these types of projects this year and maybe one day, a tech giant will create a global ‘Large Spatial Model’ equivalent to a Large Language Model, to represent the global natural and built environment – which would make these projects even easier.

One method of capturing this unstructured or semi-structured data is using drones which for several years have been the highlights of geospatial hardware shows. They are widely used for human inspection via cameras, or for point cloud capture for projects but mostly just for human visualisation. If the AI techniques described above improved automated management of structured spatial data, then this would drive the use of drones for not only human interpretation, but structured data capture so one improvement would unlock the other.

In the meantime, there is still a disconnect between the data produced by the design and build phases of construction – held in CAD formats, drawings or point clouds – and the data needed by large scale data management systems of record. The handover and adoption of this information is a big driver for projects that we have been involved in over the last few years. We are seeing a tipping point where the automatic validation and integration of this data is now the norm, so more organisations will adopt this approach. Some projects such as the National Underground Asset register are no longer worrying about ‘how do we ingest, integrate, maintain and share this data?’ but ‘what are the future use-cases for this hugely valuable and up-to-date structured data asset?’.

The growth of automation in data capture and data ingest projects also drive the need for measuring and protecting data quality to ensure that automation does not lead to loss of data quality, which might otherwise have been spotted by the people capturing the data. Automation of data quality alongside automation of data capture means the data is then suitable for powerful use cases such as underpinning digital twins and smart cities. These large-scale data aggregation projects mean that there will be a better data framework from which these smart uses can flourish, and we hope to see more of that in the coming year.

Data aggregation hubs might only be a steppingstone towards a federated data mesh approach. Aggregating data that is mastered in many different systems by physically mirroring it in an up-to-date data hub is great to get consistent data in a consistent structure which provides a single system to manage resilience, performance, security, and role-based access. But there will always be a lag between what is stored in the hub vs the latest version of the data which might be updated on an hourly basis. A federated model in which the data is pulled live from each data mastering organisation’s system would provide an even more up-to-date version of the data.

In the shorter term this is usually achieved using metadata catalogues which can be searched to find and link to relevant data which can be streamed or downloaded. This catalogue approach allows the data to remain in the mastering systems, but they are not usually made available in a consistent structure or format, so it is harder to aggregate this data for use.

Data federation is harder, especially when an agreed structure is needed for virtual aggregation, because it requires an agreement on the structure and encoding of the data as well as a high level of technical maturity at the data custodian to provide live services which are scalable and secure. While there are good standards for data sharing from organisations such as the OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium), and good examples of live data feeds being used in production, it will be interesting to see whether more widespread secure data federation is progressed this year – possibly not yet.

All these capabilities are underpinned by web connectivity and therefore also at risk of hacking and disruption. The AI techniques described above which can automate positive outcomes, can also be used to speed up and empower cyber criminals, terrorists and ‘state actors’ for negative outcomes and so the ongoing security arms race will continue at full speed with continual upgrades, testing and best practices. Whether there are any seismic changes in the security area we don’t know, but it will be an ongoing discipline that needs to be kept up with to sustain and improve confidence in the systems to ensure that they can continue to be connected in a trusted and secure way.

In summary then, many of these developments enable more automation, and automation drives efficiency and opens up new opportunities so we should see various outcomes becoming real this year: Automated AI Data capture experiments will start to show whether they are viable, New data aggregation projects will start to automate ingestion by enforcing rigorous data checks and existing aggregation projects will start to benefit from leveraging their data in new and innovative ways.

About Author:

With a degree in Cybernetics and Computer Science, Seb joined Laser-Scan (which became 1Spatial) in 1997 as a Software Engineer. After working on many projects and a broad range of software as a Senior and then Principal Software Engineer, he then moved into Consultancy and then Product Management which provided insight into customer and industry needs and trends. After leading Product Management for a number of years, Seb is now Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at 1Spatial.

GISCafe Industry Predictions for 2024 – Berntsen

 
February 1st, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

By Mike Klonsinski, President, Berntsen International, Inc.

Accelerating trend in 2024: Connected Asset Management

Mike Klonsinski

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) centers on the premise that every object’s data – location, origin, status, interactions – will be part of an interconnected digital world. While industries like manufacturing and healthcare have made significant strides in realizing this promise, the infrastructure sector has faced delays. However, a shift is anticipated in 2024 with the deployment of products and solutions that connect infrastructure assets in the field with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Asset Management Systems (AMS).

This evolution is made possible by a few key technological advancements:

  1. Development and production of lower cost, reliable sensors to collect and communicate data from ‘things’.
  2. Growth in bandwidth and storage that enables even simple products to communicate large amounts of data and be part of the connected world; and
  3. Increases in the capabilities of GIS and Asset Management systems to integrate and make sense of large inputs of external data.

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GISCafe Industry Predictions for 2024 – Eos Positioning Systems

 
January 31st, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

By Jean-Yves Lauture, CTO, Eos Positioning Systems

Jean-Yves Lauture

The upcoming year holds great promise for GIS users who leverage global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) technology. In 2023, many of us closely followed the announcement by the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) that their brand-new Galileo High Accuracy Service (HAS) had entered its first testing phase. This development made 10-20 centimeter-level positioning accuracy available worldwide — as a completely free service. Eos Positioning Systems’s latest GNSS receiver, the Arrow Gold+™, immediately capitalized on this new corrections source, which is broadcast directly from the Galileo constellation GNSS satellites. Now, in 2024, we predict that Galileo HAS will be the most significant game-changer for mobile GIS users globally. This is attributed to two key factors: Firstly, EUSPA has planned operational improvements and enhancements that will drastically boost the performance of Galileo HAS. Secondly, increased availability of Galileo HAS will allow various industries to explore even more use cases that Galileo HAS can uniquely address, surpassing our previous expectations.

Let’s explore the improvements EUSPA plans in the next phase of Galileo HAS. Currently, Galileo HAS is in Phase 1, termed “Initial Service.” With a lot of deployment work happening in 2024 towards Phase 2, we can anticipate a range of performance improvements in preparation for the “Full Service” (date unknown). One of the most exciting enhancements will undoubtedly be the improved convergence time. In the current initial service phase, convergence outside of Europe takes about 30 minutes to achieve approximately 20-centimeter accuracy globally, based on our initial tests. Within the European Union, convergence time is already much shorter than this, down to about 5 minutes. In Phase 2 of Galileo HAS, EUSPA has stated that convergence time will drop to an impressive 5 minutes worldwide, and under 2 minutes within the European Union! This improvement could come relatively soon, and we eagerly await to see if it will happen (or part of it) during 2024. For more details on what to expect in Phase 2, refer to the EUSPA website for Galileo HAS here: https://www.euspa.europa.eu/european-space/galileo/services/galileo-high-accuracy-service-has.

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