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eNewsletter July 2009

ESRI User Conference News Roundup

It's LiDAR's Turn to Feel the Squeeze

More than a decade and a half ago, LizardTech introduced a product (now called GeoExpress) that freed geospatial professionals from constraints that had until then made their large raster imagery difficult to handle in the best environments, and virtually impossible in others. True portability of large raster imagery had arrived in the MrSID format output by GeoExpress. These days, field crews routinely consult gigabytes of raster imagery on handheld devices, compressed via GeoExpress to MrSID or JPEG 2000 format.

At the ESRI conference, LizardTech unveiled a new product, LiDAR Compressor, which promises to do for LiDAR data what GeoExpress did for raster imagery. LiDAR Compressor enables users to encode giant point clouds (files containing point data measured in three dimensions) as efficient MrSID files that retain 100 percent of the raw data at just 25 percent of the file size. If workflows require even smaller files, LiDAR Compressor can reduce file sizes by 90 percent with no perceptible loss. Unlike raw LAS or ASCII data, LiDAR files compressed to MrSID are easily managed resources from which derivatives can be extracted over and over again.

LiDAR Compressor, which sells for $2995 (single user license), is simple and intuitive. Users load text or LAS files into the job pane, preview, and compress to MrSID. Hundreds of LiDAR files can even be mosaicked together. The view tab has easy navigation tools that enable users to zoom, pan and rotate the data in three dimensions. Despite its simplicity, LiDAR Compressor represents technology so revolutionary that LizardTech has applied to patent it.

Along with LiDAR Compressor, LizardTech unveiled a new and improved version of the MrSID format, MrSID Generation 4 (MG4). As previous versions did in their time, MG4 offers the most advanced compression technology now available. Visit lizardtech.com.

Figure 1. User Interface - LiDAR Compressors user interface is simple and intuitive. Files are loaded on the left as "jobs". Tabs on the right display file information (Properties), the data itself (View), or the session log (Output). A context menu gives enables you to run, cancel or delete selected jobs.

Figure 2. Text Parsing - LiDAR Compressor provides an easy way to to map columns of LiDAR data in your text LiDAR files to common fields in the LAS specificaton. You can even create your own fields for other data.

GeoFUSE and Video Games

GeoEye upped their coolness factor by demonstrating the use of their high-resolution satellite imagery in UbiSoft Entertainment's Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron) video game. Travis Getz, Authenticity Coordinator for H.A.W.X., was a guest in GeoEye's ESRI booth, demonstrating the game's "Extreme Authenticity" as part of GeoEye's overall theme of "Extreme Mapping."H.A.W.X. is an aerial warfare video enabling players to take the throttle of over 50 famous aircraft, providing a real-life, real-terrain visual experience to gamers.(skip to website here) See http://hawxgame.us.ubi.com/). To view the video trailer on how GeoEye's imagery was integrated into the game, go to: http://www.gametrailers.com/video/geoeye-realism-tom-clancys/45884.

The H.A.W.X. game opened the door to other innovative GeoEye technologies, including the GeoFUSE platform, which was demonstrated by GeoEye's Director of Business Systems, Deke Young. The GeoFUSE platform gives users access to a number of services that enable them easily to navigate and search GeoEye's comprehensive global library of preview satellite imagery directly from their own computer.

Using a service-oriented design, the GeoFUSE platform is built on leading industry technology, including ESRI ArcGIS Server 9.3, Google Earth 5.0, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. User endpoints include a light-weight browser-based application, Google Earth, ArcMap, and any application capable of viewing an OGC WMS.After live demonstrations, it was apparent that GeoFUSE lives up to its goal of providing the right imagery to the right user, at the right time, in the right application (http://hawxgame.us.ubi.com/).

Fusion Core Solution combines the robust capabilities of ESRI's ArcGIS Server Advanced Enterprise and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. The solution can be implemented by both users of SharePoint and ArcGIS Server and new users. Current users of SharePoint and ArcGIS Server will be able to download the Fusion Core Solution Custom Code and build the solution with internal staff or choose to work with a system integrator.

Definiens Launches eCognition Community

Definiens launched a new format for their users (Earth science professionals and academics) to communicate – an online community, complete with blogs, discussion boards, ruleware exchange, video and audio file sharing, a knowledge wiki, and private conversation space.

Registration for the new site, eCognition Community, will be free.Additionally, a desktop application is available for download, allowing users to participate in the community and search for relevant content from the website while simultaneously working remotely. See http://community.definiens.com.

LBxJournal.com Launches Geo-Community and Marketplace

LBx Journal, a multi-media resource spin-off of Imaging Notes, launched in print in May at the Where 2.0 Conference, and the print magazine was sent to Imaging Notes subscribers with the Summer issue. The rich interactive website launched at ESRI in mid-July.

LBx Journal is not like other media. The website brings not only original, compelling articles about taking location intelligence into businesses, but also the opportunity for geospatial companies to showcase their products in Marketplace (in addition to traditional banner ads), for businesses to ask for an RFP, and for all stakeholders to get involved in the discussions about the importance and use of location in business.

Currently on the site are 15 articles about the benefits of location for business. Read about how National Geographic uses location to archive all of their digital assets. Learn what Time Warner Cable is doing. Read how companies can use location data for new product launches from FortiusOne, and how Intermap is providing new location technologies for the automotive industry. Read about ESRI's Business Analyst product offerings and dashboards and how they work for many kinds of businesses.

Go to www.lbxjournal.com/benefits to become a member, to have full access to all the site has to offer, and also to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

WorldView-2 Launch Date Announced

DigitalGlobe has announced the launch date for WorldView-2, which is Oct. 6, 2009. This satellite will be the first high-resolution bird with 8 bands of color.

ITT and ESRI Partner to Integrate ENVI with ArcGIS

ITT Corp. and ESRI have created a strategic partnership to integrate their respective software technologies, which will extend advanced, high performance image processing and analysis capabilities to the ArcGIS platform and ENVI. Imagery is core to both companies, according to Richard Cooke, President of ITT VIS. ESRI's commitment to imagery as a core component of their business is demonstrated by the recent hiring of Lawrie Jordan (co-founder of ERDAS). Jordan said of the ITT VIS partnership, "Relationships make things work, and this is a good one."

The companies state that imagery is core to GIS, and there is an increasing need for GIS professionals to extract richer information, going beyond maps and beyond planning to truly support the enterprise.

The first product is ENVI EX, which is a processing and analysis tool that will ship in August. Integration with ArcGIS provides a superior user interface, offering geolink capabilities in both ArcGIS and ENVI. The most impressive features are the simplicity of drag-and-drop, allowing layers easily to be taken out of Arc and into ENVI for processing, supporting layers, native symbology and attributes; and the portal view, which allows users to preview results before committing to running the processing. Included are processing such as change detection, feature extraction, RPC orthorectification and classification. Output can be to a map, file or geodatabase.

This is the first of many new products that the two companies are creating together. Watch for an in-depth report in the Fall issue of Imaging Notes.

Geomatics Technology Group Joins TetraTech

The Geomatics Technology Group joined Tetra Tech in November 2008. The team of ASPRS-certified photogrammetrists, LiDAR analysts, and remote sensing professionals offers a full range of services from satellite imagery distribution, and photogrammetry data processing to complete geospatial solutions and custom applications. The Geomatics Technology Group utilizes a wide range of the latest technologically advanced tools to provide quality products and services to ensure a successful project, and provides geospatial solutions to support in-house consulting, engineering and technical services and geospatial services directly to external clients world-wide. See www.tetratech.com.

A Few New Companies at the ESRI Conference

VoyagerGIS: Geo-search

Voyager is powerful indexing software that organizes geospatial data, maps, and Web mapping services, allowing users of GIS content to find the resources they need quickly and thus to be more productive. Voyager provides a simple, Web-style search that supports fast, full-text and spatial searches of local disks, network servers, and remote enterprise servers. Figure 3 shows options of roads to choose within a certain area, and Figure 4 shows fire hazard areas in California.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Voyager supports all common geospatial data formats, including geodatabases, shapefiles, map documents, SDE, ArcGIS server, WMS services, imagery, CAD drawings, and many more. Information is stored in Voyager's master index, where it can be queried using a Web-based interface or by other programs using simple APIs. The Voyager index can run on a local computer (for single-user access) or on a server for shared access in a portal environment.

Voyager saves time and labor and reduces costs associated with storing and maintaining data. Database administrators and IT staff can use Voyager's administrative tools to:

  • Catalog geospatial resources automatically;
  • Determine which datasets are most commonly used;
  • Identify problems such as duplicate datasets, missing metadata, unknown spatial references, and slowly performing maps;
  • Author geoprocessing workflows easily to fix problems;
  • Understand how geospatial resources are being utilized across the enterprise;
  • Create a geospatial portal in just a few clicks.

Download a free trial edition of Voyager Analyst Edition: http://voyagergis.com/products.

34 North Announces Open Natural Resource Management

34 North, Inc., a Web Services, GIS and Visualization Company (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) introduced OpenNRM (Open Natural Resource Management), an Open GIS collaboration suite of Web-based tools for analyzing and managing natural resources. The OpenNRM suite is composed of a number of interdependent software modules that may be customized and assembled for your resource management application needs.

OpenNRM focuses not only on consuming and viewing maps and information but also on the production of maps, data, decision models and visualizations. In addition, the application suite has implemented geospatial and temporal queries, a project collaboration network, wikis, news portal, content management, live data access, Web services tools (RSS, WMS, XML), and a sophisticated document management library.

34 North will be offering the open "core" free under the GPL V3 license in late 2009. They are currently developing custom natural resource management communities using the OpenNRM Enterprise platform for hot spots like The California Delta (www.baydeltalive.com). As a service to those who do not have the resources to build on or support OpenNRM and are working for the good of our planet, a free community is available at www.opennrm.org. For more information about 34 North visit www.34north.com.

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