Pivotal Shifts

Dear Reader,

Our mission at Imaging Notes is to communicate how geospatial technologies are able to manage the world’s resources better so that the global population has food, water, energy and security. We hope you find these relevant articles to be compelling and useful.

Myrna James Yoo,

The geospatial landscape is shifting, allowing for the next quantum leap forward in applications of the data. The reasons for this shift are twofold:

  • Many companies are consolidating to offer end-to-end solutions for their clients, offering all products (imagery, digital maps) and services (processing, analysis) from one source. This is true of the data provider companies (GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, Astrium) and software companies (Esri being the exception, doing partnerships with ITT and PCI, rather than acquisitions). Hexagon’s acquisition of Intergraph, merging with Leica and ERDAS, is covered in depth. Look for future issues of Imaging Notes to share what the changes within these companies will mean for their clients.
  • Data are becoming more available and easier to use. Google Earth Engine as a platform with Landsat data, cloud computing, and standards is causing the democratization of data.

This data shift enables people to contribute data from the field (see Abe Usher’s story), and to incorporate social media and live feeds for disaster response such as those following the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan. (See this blog post for links to live maps of Japan from Esri, Ushahidi, and GeoIQ.) Crowdsourced data are generally from the masses – people with no expertise in GIS. VGI (volunteered geographic information) is provided by enthusiasts, while CRS (community remote sensing) is more scientific and professional.

This shift also enables the new nonprofits such as The Satellite Sentinel Project founded by George Clooney to share information quickly with followers and activists, as we show in the article. This project uses satellite imagery to “monitor” Sudanese conflict. It is exciting for two reasons: it brings satellite imaging into the hearts and imaginations of the public, and raises awareness for other NGOs of how to use it. Amnesty International has a similar effort, www.eyesondarfur.org, which they launched in 2007 at the International Symposium on Digital Earth at UC Berkeley.

Finally, this shift is enabling businesses to use location data more effectively, as is noted in both the NAIP story (NAIP is seeding the commercial market for aerial imagery) and the Kass Green Executive Interview. Green notes that NAIP imagery is inexpensive and easy to use. See our sister publication LBx Journal for more on how businesses are using location.

This issue also includes a LiDAR story about forestry in Belize by Juan Ferandez Diaz with the NSF’s National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, with excellent introductory information.

Thanks for reading. Keep the letters coming.


—Myrna James Yoo

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