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eNewsletter June 2010

Trimble Acquires Definiens' Earth Sciences Business

Trimble has recently acquired the Earth sciences business assets of Definiens, a Germany-based company specializing in image analysis solutions, as well as the licensing of its software technology platform. It was an all-cash transaction and financial terms were not disclosed.

Definiens' Earth sciences business includes eCognition software, an image analysis software suite for geospatial applications that facilitates geo-information extraction from remote sensing imagery. The "original" object-based image analysis (OBIA) software has been used by data providers, remote sensing professionals, and university researchers in urban planning, forestry, agriculture, energy, insurance, and security for nearly a decade. eCognition software is scalable and offers a range of tools to create image analysis applications that can handle all common data sources — such as medium- to high-resolution satellite, high-resolution aerial photography, laser scanner, radar, and hyperspectral data.

The patented Definiens Cognition Network Technology was developed by 1986 Nobel Laureate Prof. Gerd Binnig and his team. The technology platform emulates human cognitive processes of perception to extract intelligence from images. The power behind the innovative technology is its ability to quickly and easily transform user knowledge and domain expertise into automatic routines. Definiens applies advanced machine learning concepts to train the software and render this knowledge in a production environment, enabling the software to automatically process millions of images.

Trimble will report the operating results of the acquired business within its Engineering and Construction segment. See www.trimble.com, www.definiens.com, www.ecognition.com.

TanDEM-X Launched Successfully

The German radar satellite TanDEM-X was successfully launched from Baikonur, Kazachstan, on June 21, at 04:14 CET. A first contact with a ground station in Troll was established at 04:45.

TanDEM-X joins its "twin" TerraSAR-X, which has been in operation since mid 2007, in its 514 kilometer orbit. Together, the two satellites will spend three years collecting stereo radar data for a global digital elevation model of the Earth's entire landmass. This DEM will feature a relative accuracy of better than 2 meters (10 meter absolute) for a 12 meter grid.

TanDEM-X is being implemented in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Astrium GmbH, with funds from the German Ministry of Industry and Technology (Bundesministerium f¸r Wirtschaft und Technologie).

Infoterra GmbH will be responsible for the commercial marketing of the elevation model, which will involve customising the DEM to the needs of commercial users: Infoterra will process the raw data supplied by the satellite system in accordance with specific customer requirements. This involves removing any remaining spikes (peaks or outliers caused by noise) and offsets (which can occur due to radar shadow, particularly in mountainous terrain) in the data, and editing the representation of expanses of water (ensuring a uniform water level and the right gradient of river courses). See www.infoterra.de/terrasar-x/tandem-x-mission.html.

The Geospatial Revolution Project to Highlight Digital Mapping with Web Videos

Geospatial information influences nearly everything. Seamless layers of satellites, surveillance, and location-based technologies create a worldwide geographic knowledge base vital to solving social and environmental problems in the interconnected global community.

This fall, Penn State Public Broadcasting, the university’s public television licensee, will release the first video episode of the Geospatial Revolution Project, an integrated public media and outreach initiative about the impact of digital mapping.

In mid-September, the first of the project’s four high-definition video episodes will be released online, accompanied by outreach resources. This unique online format will allow for a broad audience to experience and share the series, and the educational outreach tools will allow viewers to better understand and discuss the applications and impact of geospatial technologies and the issues of privacy and security that they raise.

“We are hoping our viewers will realize how broadly, deeply and irrevocably these technologies are part of our lives, mostly for good but with their social side effects as well,” said Penn State Public Broadcasting writer-director Stephen Stept. “We want folks to share these stories with family, friends and colleagues, and perhaps even to join the revolution in some way.”

For more information about the Geospatial Revolution Project, visit http://geospatialrevolution.psu.edu/ online. You can also follow the project on Twitter http://twitter.com/geospatialrev/ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/geospatialrev.

Merrick Provides LiDAR for Three ARRA-Funded Projects, Adds Helicopter-Acquired Remote Sensing

Merrick & Company is providing light detection and ranging (LiDAR) services and products to the Northwest Florida Water Management District, Lake County, Illinois, and the University of Illinois. The projects were made possible through grants from the U.S. Geological Survey and stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The projects range in size from 335 square miles to 585 square miles. The acquired data will be used for topographic modeling, urban planning, flood modeling, and height modernization.

The company’s geospatial solutions business unit (Merrick GeoSpatial Solutions) has expanded its services with the addition of helicopter-acquired remote sensing data products. As the backbone of its assembled sensor suite, the firm has purchased the Optech Orion C200 LiDAR sensor. The sensor provides a 200 kHz pulse rate, programmable field of view and scan rate, low operational height above ground, excellent elevation accuracy, and low shot noise, vegetation penetration, power line feature collection capabilities, compact size, and a low weight.

To augment its remote sensing platform, Merrick will purchase several other sensors. The additional sensors will provide high resolution color orthophotography, high resolution oblique imagery, color infrared orthophotography, and hyperspectral imaging. Merrick currently operates fixed-wing aircraft for three other LiDAR and photography data acquisition platforms. This new helicopter-mounted platform of sensors will allow the geospatial group to acquire data for area mapping projects such as flood plains, wind/solar farms, and forestry tracts. The group will also be able to acquire data for linear projects such as transmission corridors, transportation systems, levees, coastlines, seaports, railroads, pipelines, airports, and international borders. See www.merrick.com.

Blue Moon Fund Utilizes Fugro EarthData Biomass Mapping Solution in Amazon Forest

Fugro EarthData has developed accurate, landscape-level estimates of carbon content in lowland tropical forests in South America using data collected by its airborne radar mapping platform, GeoSAR. The work is funded through a grant extended by the Blue Moon Fund, and executed through the fund’s partnerships with Wake Forest University (WFU) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Originally developed by NASA JPL and currently owned and operated by Fugro, GeoSAR is a one-of-a-kind mapping system that collects dual-band radar data through clouds and dense foliage over large project areas. One band reflects off the tree canopy and the other penetrates the foliage, making the system well suited to recovering tropical forest biomass with a high degree of certainty over high biomass areas. Project deliverables include digital, high-resolution above-ground biomass estimates for the project area, and a map of total carbon storage for evaluation of REDD-related baseline projects. See www.fugroearthdata.com.

MapMart Now Offers 3TIER Global Wind and Solar Resource Data

MapMart, an online source of mapping and image data sets, has released wind speed and solar irradiance data to complement existing MapMart data sets. These new GIS data layers were created by 3TIER, a provider of renewable energy information services.

3TIER's GIS data layers detail wind and solar energy potential across the United States. They can be combined with third-party layers, such as land ownership, population density, topography, and transmission and transportation infrastructure to identify optimal locations for renewable energy development. They enable spatial analysis ranging from quick and simple to highly complex. The 3TIER data sets are available now for purchase from the MapMart.com data portal.

3TIER, which provides renewable resource assessment and forecasting services to the world's largest developers, uses state-of-the art science to derive the resource data found in the GIS data layers. Wind speed values were determined using a physics-based numerical weather prediction modeling approach, which simulates the interaction between the Earth's surface and the entire atmosphere. Solar irradiance values are based on over a decade of 2 arc-minute resolution satellite imagery from around the world and are processed using a combination of in-house research and peer-reviewed algorithms. The data are compatible with a wide variety of software packages, and data customization is also available.

MapMart sells a wide variety of U.S. and International geospatial data sets, with additional data coming online daily that can be complemented by the 3TIER wind and solar data to serve a variety of purposes. See www.mapmart.com.

New Intergraph GeoMedia SDI Portal Expands Spatial Data Sharing to Browser Applications

Intergraph has expanded its spatial data infrastructure (SDI) application with the introduction of GeoMedia SDI Portal to offer governments and other organizations new capabilities for empowering browser applications with SDI functionality. The new offering provides a Web browser application for consuming, querying, and visualizing SDI Web services in a mapping context.

With GeoMedia SDI Portal, organizations involved in border security, emergency management, infrastructure management, land information management, public information services (including INSPIRE or any national SDI), mapping, and cartographic production can more easily share accurate geospatial data internally and with government agencies, commercial businesses, and the public.

Intergraph SDI technology has been successfully deployed by the Czech Land Survey Office, a department of the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping, and Cadastre. The organization’s portal provides simplified access to spatial data and draws thousands of users from government agencies, companies and the general public.

Intergraph SDI solutions support geospatial industry standards, including ISO and OGC, as well as government initiatives including the European Union INSPIRE, United Nations SDI, Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure, and U.S. National SDI. In addition to government mandates, economic benefits are also resulting in strong demand for improved collaboration as governments and other organizations look to better leverage geospatial data and generate greater return on their investments.

Intergraph’s SDI solutions are built on the foundation of GeoMedia and GeoMedia WebMap, which enable users to bring spatial data from disparate databases into a single desktop or Web environment for viewing, analysis and presentation. The Intergraph SDI portfolio also includes GeoMedia SDI Pro, which provides advanced Web services for implementing SDIs, and enables organizations to meet government compliance mandates for data sharing. In addition to being built on industry standards and supporting worldwide government data sharing initiatives, Intergraph’s SDI solutions can help improve data and network security and protect services from illegal usage through built-in password requirements and access restrictions. See www.intergraph.com, geoportal.cuzk.cz/.

Eleventh International LiDAR Mapping Forum Returns to New Orleans

The 11th International LiDAR Mapping Forum — devoted to sharing information on LiDAR technology and mobile mapping applications — will be held February 7 to 9, 2011 at the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans, Louisiana. Technology advances resulting in faster and more compact data capture systems are reshaping the LIDAR mapping market. Combining these with complementary data processing and visualization systems is now opening up a whole new range of applications and introducing new end-customers to the cost benefits of LIDAR mapping. With the falling cost per mile of data capture and processing, surveys can now be conducted more often and updated more frequently.

ILMF 2011 will showcase more than 50 leading companies in this rapidly growing global market. Exhibitors include the LIDAR and complementary sensor manufacturers, survey service companies, data processing, GIS and management specialists, and the latest mobile mapping vehicles.

The exhibition is complemented by a three-day technical conference, where speakers from the international LiDAR community will be reporting on the latest technology advances and recent projects, highlighting actual experiences and lessons learned. For delegates new to the LiDAR community, or those wishing to learn how LiDAR technology can deliver increased mapping knowledge at reduced cost, there is a full series of learning workshops and demonstrations. ILMF is supported by ASPRS and MAPPS. See www.lidarmap.org.

Imaging Notes Summer Issue Preview

Earth Observations Emphasis Rises at Conferences

Conferences continue to be a key focus for us as more organizations begin to understand more fully the value and potential of Earth Observations. In recent years, major gatherings such as Geospatial World Forum in India (formerly World Map Forum) and World Satellite Business Week in Paris, have been adding Earth Observations Symposia within their meetings. Read more. These inclusions demonstrate that finally Earth Observations are getting the attention they deserve, in recognition of their potential, ultimately, to increase the capabilities for using the data to save Earth, save homes, save livelihoods and save lives.

Community Remote Sensing at IGARSS

One of the emerging fields helping to increase these capabilities is Community Remote Sensing (CRS), or citizen science/citizen mapping, or to use a more casual term, crowdsourcing of data. Bill Gail of Microsoft points out in his Guest Editorial that the data gap is being filled by contributions from the community – people who enter data for certain projects from their cell phones. Our editor Ray Williamson writes about the potential impact of CRS, and we profile two projects using CRS in a story by Natalie Cutsforth.

The 30th Anniversary meeting of IGARSS in Hawaii in late July will include sessions on CRS as well. Read more. The keynote will be given by two leaders of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Aneesh Chopra, President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer, and Shere Abbott, Associate Director for Environment. They are quite interested in the CRS theme and the potential for the community to build a broader program around the theme. This address will be followed by a panel session with representatives from major space agencies discussing the impact of CRS on their activities.

Executive Interviews: Lawrie Jordan of ESRI and Joel Campbell of ERDAS

We are privileged to include Executive Interviews with Lawrie Jordan, co-founder of ERDAS in the 1970s, now Director of Imagery at ESRI, and Joel Campbell, new President of ERDAS. Read more. Both companies are extremely professional and are focused primarily on their customers’ needs in doing product development, which clearly speaks to their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Imaging Notes is fully committed to telling the stories of using remotely sensed and geospatial data – images, lidar, radar – and aerial data as well. As Lawrie Jordan notes, “Imaging Notes takes some of the science and mumbo-jumbo out of it and gets right to storytelling.”

Please follow us on Twitter and join our Imaging Notes groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, where you’ll find photos from our travels. (put links embedded in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn):

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DGI 2014 | 21-23 January 2014, London | Strategies for data, geoint, and cyber security in defence & intelligence | Find out more