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eNewsletter April 2011

Esri Provides LIVE Map of Midwest Floods

This map of the current (April 28, 2011) flooding throughout the Midwest shows current precipitation from social media feeds, including Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

link to map

Nokia Ovi Maps Adds 3D Cities from C3 Technologies

At the Where 2.0 Conference on April 20, C3 Technologies with Nokia announced that 20 of their photorealistic 3D cities are now available on Ovi Maps, Nokia’s free mapping and location service. Discovering cities and their surroundings in the most realistic way possible is the next frontier of online mapping services.

“Today, Nokia is adding a new dimension to the way people experience maps on the web,” said Mattias Ĺström, C3 Technologies CEO. “People want to experience the world on their computers and phones in all of its 3D beauty – the way it really is.”

The first release includes 20 major cities around the world, and 3D street views for some European cities, including Copenhagen and London. The 20 C3 cities now available on Nokia Ovi Maps include:

  • Barcelona
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Copenhagen
  • Florence
  • Helsinki
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Madrid
  • Miami
  • Milan
  • New York
  • Oslo
  • Prague
  • San Francisco
  • Stockholm
  • Toronto
  • Venice
  • Vienna
More than 100 cities in 3D are available from C3’s Metro database as a platform for new social and commercial applications serving local search, real estate, travel, tourism, media, and entertainment, as well as uses in civil government, utilities, and telecommunications. Since 2007, when C3 Technologies was spun out of the aerospace and defense company Saab AB, it has redefined mapping by applying previously classified image processing technology to the development of 3D maps as a platform for new social and commercial applications. The Sweden-based company’s automated software and advanced algorithms enable C3 to rapidly assemble extremely precise 3D models, and seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images, that are changing how people use maps and explore the world. Experience the world the way it really is, was and could be at www.c3technologies.com and www.maps.ovi.com/3d.

Maps of Japan’s Earthquake Response Efforts

The tragic March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear threat in Japan has captured the sympathies and attention of the world. Geospatial technologies have been instrumental in the rapid response for the past several years, but new abilities to incorporate real-time data such as Twitter feeds have created very powerful tools for the volunteers and rescue teams. These maps of Japan are online, free and open to have people contribute data, provided by private companies as well as non-profits.

Here are links to maps from Esri, GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, Spot Image, RapidEye, RadarSat, and InSTEDD and Ushahidi. Imagery from MDA's Systems Information Group’s RADARSAT-2 satellite is being used to assess damage and direct relief efforts to the main stricken areas of Sendai, Japan. MDA has provided imagery acquired by the RADARSAT-2 satellite over the devastated areas in Japan in support of disaster management efforts through the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) participation in International Charter Space and Major Disasters. The first image of the disaster was acquired on March 12, hours after the earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan. MDA is continuing to acquire images and is posting them on its Web site. URL: gs.mdacorporation.com

RapidEye, a constellation of five identical Earth observation satellites, recently made available the first images of Japan following the tsunami and the preceding earthquake. The Center for Satellite-Based Crisis Information (ZKI), which is part of the German Aerospace Agency (DLR), contacted RapidEye shortly following the breaking news of the earthquake and resulting tsunami. The DLR is a member of the International Charter, an organization working towards providing a unified system of space data acquisition to those affected by natural and man-made disasters. The International Charter was activated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which then began to use the imagery and resulting analysis to provide as much knowledge about the disaster as possible to the relief and governmental agencies that need it. URL: http://www.rapideye.de/home/news/news-extra-page.html.

Esri has released a Japan Trends map that visualizes a heat map of aggregated reports or reports categorized by property damage, hazards, evacuations, power outages, or help/services available. These can be filtered by date to see daily trends. By selecting “Show reports” you can see individual Ushahidi reports. Public content from Ushahidi is added to the site by directly accessing the Earthquake Tohoku service through the Ushahidi API. The Ushahidi platform allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, e-mail, or the Web and visualize it on a map or a timeline. The feed aggregates information from the public for use in crisis response. Incidents are requested from Ushahidi in JSON format and added to the map based on the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. URL: http://www.esri.com/services/disaster-response/japan-earthquake-tsunami-2011-map/trends-map.html.

Human Terrain Analysis: The Social Revolution

The assimilation of physical, social, and cultural features has existed within geography for some time. Noteworthy examples are few and nearly forgotten, but include John Snow (1854), Friedrich Ratzel, Clark Wissler, and Carl Sauer (1850’s), Henry Mayhew (1861), Charles Booth (1886-1903), Florence Kelley (1893), and Ellen Semple (1901). Despite these seminal works, the category of space has largely played a subordinate role in the formation of social science theory. Yet today, Human Terrain Analysis reveals the potential of the social revolution.

“You have to understand not just what we call the military terrain…the high ground and low ground. It’s about understanding the human terrain, really understanding it.”

Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA

In the late 1980s, theorists yet again realized that certain social processes could not be adequately explained without greater incorporation of space. The inflexibility of traditional social theory regardless of space slowly gave way to new spatially explicit theories. This shift is commonly referred to as the ‘spatial turn.’ The current developments and interest in Human Terrain Analysis (HTA) are representative of the similarly significant ‘spatial turn’ within the social sciences.

“The term ‘geospatial intelligence’ means the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the earth.” (Geospatial Intelligence, Wikipedia)

HTA makes great effort to solve a number of enduring problems within traditional geography, most of which have existed for some time. Geography and the tradecraft of geospatial intelligence, otherwise known as GEOINT have been criticized as overly descriptive and rather unscientific. For too long, geography was consumed with the inventory of physical and cultural features, a concept that was rather idiographic and only feebly attempted to categorize regions that may exist only in the creation of the discipline itself. This approach failed to generalize to less specific areas of knowledge.

The utter lack of nomothetic type of laws brought into question the position of geography as an academic discipline. It is primarily this reason that many geography departments were abolished near the mid-point of the last century. Most discouraging was the elimination of geography at Harvard University in 1948, which has been called, "a terrible blow…to American geography" and one from which "it has never completely recovered" (Gottmann, 1982).

HTA further reconciles the dichotomy that has long existed between physical geography with the use of quantitative methods, and human geography with its largely qualitative methods. HTA recognizes that it is insufficient to describe simply where phenomena occur. Moreover, HTA explains differences in the social landscape and not just similarities. These adaptations to methodologies and new robust techniques, developed during the quantitative revolution, resolve classic questions in geography. HTA has repurposed geography for human inquiry and for explaining complex social problems in scientific, contextual, and quantitative manners.

“Human Terrain Analysis (HTA): A multi-intelligent, multidisciplinary scientific approach to describe and predict spatial and temporal patterns of human behavior by analyzing the attributes, actions, reactions and interactions of groups or individuals in the context of their environment. HTA incorporates elements of Human Geography in a spatial, temporal context. It is one component of GEOINT.”

The U.S. Labor Department has recently identified spatial social science as a $30 billion industry with significant funding by the National Science Foundation on projects such as the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science. Similarly, advanced programs have been developed at Brown University, Harvard University, and Arizona State University, all of which attempt to fill the cavernous gaps that exist in education. HTA will be significantly more effective due to the social revolution.

By Richard E. Heimann

Editor’s Note:

Mr. Richard Heimann (twitter: @rheimann) is the President and Lead Researcher at GeOpen Project, a small company that focuses on spatial science and spatial demographic inquiry. He is currently adjunct faculty at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, working within the Geographic Information Systems graduate program where he lectures on Spatial Social Science and Demographic Inquiry. He is senior researcher advisor at the Counter-IED Operations Integration Center and the Pentagon where he directly serves warfighters’ efforts to focus attacks on the enemy’s social networks and social units employing IEDs. He is also instructor for GIS 0270: Human Terrain Analysis at George Mason University.

Join us in June for the Forum on Earth Observations

The Forum on Earth Observations V, scheduled for June 14, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, will focus on creating a national strategy for environmental intelligence - actionable information that enables decision-makers to better respond to, adapt to and manage the changing planet.

The Forum on Earth Observations is the signature event of IGES’s Alliance for Earth Observations. This year’s Forum brings together public and private sector leaders to discuss the nation’s growing demand for improved environmental information and strategies by which our civil, defense and commercial programs will meet the nation’s priorities, which range from more accurate weather and climate models, to more robust and accessible information for emergency response, to a less vulnerable and more energy-efficient military.

A diverse community of stakeholders critical to the environmental information supply chain will share their ideas, priorities and potential contributions for creating a cohesive and comprehensive national strategy for environmental intelligence. url: www.ForumOnEO5.com

Woolpert Celebrates 100 Years of Growth

In 2011, Woolpert is celebrating its 100th year in business. Established in 1911 as a surveying company, Woolpert has since grown to be a multidisciplinary firm that provides professional design, geospatial, and infrastructure services to clients in the public and private sectors and has more than 650 employees in 23 offices across the United States.

As part of its centennial celebration, Woolpert has launched an anniversary Web site and video and updated its Web site, logo, and brand to reflect its integrated approach to project solutions above, on, and beneath the Earth’s surface.

Most recently, Woolpert acquired the Dallas operations of Bohannan Huston, a spatial data, mapping, civil engineering, and advanced engineering technology services firm headquartered in New Mexico. This is the firm’s fourth acquisition in three years. URL: www.woolpert.com

MAPPS Praises DHS Emergency Response Contract

MAPPS, the national association of private sector geospatial firms, has praised a contract solicitation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS has issued a request for qualifications from private firms for "Remote Sensing to Support Incident Management and Homeland Security." Under the contract to be awarded, approximately four teams of firms will be under Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) firm-fixed price contracts for five years.   Services to be provided via task orders under the contract will support emergency and non-emergency requirements for airborne remote sensing, which includes rapid deployment of aircraft, airborne imagery acquisition and processing, and rapid dissemination services. The services will consist of readiness reporting, deployment exercises, vertical and oblique aerial image acquisition, LiDAR, photogrammetric data processing, and electronic dissemination of imagery data for DHS.

Firms will be selected in accordance with the Brooks Act (40 USC 1101), as implemented in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 36.6, for negotiation based on demonstrated competence and qualifications to accomplish the required work.

MAPPS first presented the idea of pre-positioned ID/IQ contracts to FEMA when it was an independent agency, prior to 9/11 and the subsequent creation of DHS, of which FEMA became part. MAPPS was invited on several occasions to make presentations to FEMA and then DHS on how such contracts could speed the government's ability to respond to natural or anthropogenic disasters and emergencies, including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and terror attacks. The establishment of such contracts was endorsed by a National Research Council / National Academy of Sciences panel report, "Successful Response Starts with a Map: Improving Geospatial Support for Disaster Management" (2007), after being briefed by MAPPS. url: www.mapps.org

Merrick Completes LiDAR Collection in Oklahoma, Completing As-Built Transmission Line Mapping

Merrick & Company’s geospatial mapping and technologies unit is acquiring light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for a 1,733-square-mile area over Stillwater, Oklahoma. The data are being collected to provide documentation of existing conditions related to the Watershed Rehabilitation Program that includes dam safety assessment, design, design review, and construction management. Dams are being evaluated for safety, with subsequent upgrades being designed and constructed as needed. Additionally, the data will help Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) offices in the coverage area in the development of conservation plans to assist farmers and ranchers in the management of their resources. The work is being done under a contract with AMEC Earth & Environmental.

The unit is completing a high density, aerial LiDAR as-built survey of a 132-mile double circuit 345kV line in the western United States. The work is being done under a contract to Stanley Consultants, Inc.

The data were collected using a helicopter platform equipped with a multiple sensor pod configuration. On this project, in addition to providing PLS-CADD formatted LiDAR data, the team simultaneously collected nadir imagery and high-resolution oblique imagery, which were used in the detailed classification of the transmission line features.  This newer, high density, multiple sensor approach to airborne data acquisition is well suited to mapping power transmission corridors, and electric transmission operators are increasingly looking to utilize this data collection methodology to meet the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) reliability and clearance standards. 

Merrick & Company, a $125 million geospatial, engineering, architecture, design-build, and surveying firm, serves domestic and international clients by providing geospatial technologies, products, and services for the infrastructure, energy, and security markets. The firm’s most recent work includes providing terrestrial scanning for an electrical substation for Xcel Energy and LiDAR data for F.E. Warren Air Force Base and for a wind farm located in Kansas. Merrick maintains eight offices in the United States, as well as two offices in Mexico and one in Canada. URL: www.merrick.com

ArcGIS Viewer for Microsoft Silverlight Now Available for Download

Esri's new ArcGIS Viewer for Microsoft Silverlight can now be downloaded at no cost from the Esri Beta Community site. The viewer is a ready-to-use, configurable Web mapping application built on ArcGIS API for Silverlight/WPF. Users can easily configure the viewer without writing a single line of code or editing configuration files. The download includes an application builder tool for making and previewing changes to the viewer data content, tools, and layout. The viewer is designed so that users can customize the look and feel of applications, add and configure tools, and extend the viewer framework with custom add-ins.

ArcGIS Viewer for Microsoft Silverlight supports existing business workflows that require mapping visualization, editing, and analysis. It also simplifies access to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Server services and accelerates Web mapping application deployment. Developers can create custom add-ins, which are modular units of code for extending the viewer with new capabilities. The common Silverlight/WPF API framework allows custom add-ins to be used with ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint. url: www.esri.com

Microsoft UltraCamXp Wide Angle Camera and UltraMap Software Win Technology Innovation in Photogrammetry Award

Microsoft Corporation and its subsidiary Vexcel Imaging, GmbH were the winners of the Technology Innovation in Photogrammetry award at the Geospatial World Forum Conference for the company's UltraCamXp Wide Angle digital aerial camera and for the monolithic stitching capability of its UltraMap workflow software. The honor was received on January 18 in Hyderabad, India, at a ceremony attended by more than 800 delegates.

The UltraCamXp Wide Angle camera, released in September 2009, features a proprietary, high-performance, high-resolution lens system with a shorter focal length than the UltraCamXp. This system allows the sensor to deliver the same ground sample distance (GSD) as the UltraCamXp at lower flight altitudes. As an alternative to the UltraCamXp, the UltraCamXp Wide Angle provides small-scale mapping capabilities to customers with lower-flying airplanes. The UltraCamXp Wide Angle successfully completed the USGS Sensor Type Certification Process in April 2010. USGS certifies that the UltraCamXp and UltraCamXp Wide Angle are "capable of providing quality, consistent image data to support civil government programs at the performance level specified in the USGS sensor type certification report."

The Technology Innovation Award also recognized the significant value of the monolithic stitching technique first released in version 2.0 of the UltraMap software in January 2010. The improved stitching algorithm combines both pan and color tie points to compute a more accurate and more robust stitching result, which is particularly effective when used on unstructured terrain.

The image format of the UltraCamXp Wide Angle is identical to that of the UltraCamX at 196 megapixels, or 17,310 across track and 11,310 along track panchromatic pixels. The pixel size is 6 µm, and geometric accuracy is better than +/- 2 µm. Post-processing can be started on board and completed on the ground with a laptop or group of PCs for faster turnaround. The Wide Angle model also is fully compatible with the storage (DXp) and computing (CXp) systems of the UltraCamX and UltraCamXp, and is fully supported by the UltraMap 2.1 workflow software system.

UltraMap provides a complete and integrated photogrammetric workflow for UltraCam images. The aerial triangulation module is smoothly integrated into the UltraMap workflow; monolithic stitching significantly improves the geometric image accuracy for unstructured terrain; and model-based radiometric correction allows for eliminating hotspots, atmospheric effects, and haze. With version 2.1, an automated project-based color balancing package tremendously minimizes manual labor for adjusting the radiometry. UltraMap fully supports all UltraCam models such as UltraCamX, UltraCamXp, UltraCamL/Lp, and UltraCamXp Wide Angle. url: www.microsoft.com/ultracam

Fugro Awarded NOAA Coastal Geospatial Services Contract

Fugro announced today that it has signed a 5-year contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Services Center (CSC) for geospatial services to support coastal resources management in all US continental, Caribbean and Pacific territories.

This open-ended contract provides NOAA and other federal, state, local and tribal organizations with access to state-of-the-art geospatial services including: airborne digital and hyperspectral imagery, LiDAR, and IFSAR; topographic and bathymetric mapping; thematic mapping; photogrammetric mapping; terrestrial surveying; and GIS services. Geospatial information developed under this contract will feed into the CSC’s Digital Coast program and will serve coastal resources managers, researchers, and policy makers on a broad range of applications, including: coastal and marine spatial planning, land use management, coastal erosion, marine fisheries management, transportation and shipping coordination, emergency management, and flood risk mitigation

Said Ed Saade, President and General Manager of Fugro EarthData, “We understand the challenges NOAA and other government organizations face in addressing social, economic, and environmental issues related to our Nation’s coastal areas. Fugro is committed to providing quality geospatial products and services to support the CSC’s important mission.” www.fugro.com

Piranha Boat Launched at Sea Air Space Show

Zyvex Technologies announced that its 54’ boat named Piranha completed sea trials in the Pacific Ocean and demonstrated record fuel efficiency. After six months of extensive testing, the Piranha completed its final sea trial, a 600-mile, rough-weather test off the coasts of Washington and Oregon on April 4. Piranha finished the tests in time to travel to its debut at the Sea Air Space show in Washington, DC, on April 11th where the defense industry evaluated it for many different mission applications, including anti-piracy, harbor patrol and oceanographic surveying.

A conventional aluminum or fiberglass boat would have consumed 50 gallons or more per hour, while test results prove that Piranha consumed only 12 gallons of fuel per hour while cruising at 25 knots. The Piranha demonstrates Zyvex Technologies’ ability to produce products with nano-enhanced materials that are 40% stronger than metals, such as aluminum, and 75% lighter, resulting in increased fuel efficiency.

Zyvex produced Piranha in just 90 days. The makers believe it can help coastal city leaders in ports like Seattle, San Diego, Miami, Norfolk, and New York better protect their harbors. In 2009, the New York City Police Commissioner testified before Congress that even with the Coast Guard's assistance, the department could not fully protect the harbor, especially considering the vast amounts of uninspected cargo that enters the Ports of New York and New Jersey, pointing out that Mumbai was just another reminder.(What? Events in Mumbai?) Two years later, there is still an urgent need for better port and maritime security.

The recent Oman piracy tragedy for four Americans from Seattle underscores the need for additional civilian and commercial security. In addition to the U.S. Navy, unmanned surface vessels such as Piranha can be deployed by Customs and Border Patrol, Port authorities and harbor police in high risk areas. Pirates can be tracked over long ranges with a clear picture of location so commercial vessels can avoid them. Piranha is an alternative to costly aircraft carriers. With its range and endurance, military personnel could remain on station for weeks and still protect designated areas. Piranha can be leased as an escort for commercial or private sailors through dangerous areas. URL: www.zyvextech.com

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