Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Windows 7 removes Sidebar - GOS Dashboard now part of desktop

Windows 7 comes out tomorrow and one of the cool things is the Sidebar is now gone. The Sidebar was the part of the desktop that Windows Vista reserved for Gadgets like stock tickers. So instead of cluttering up the right side of your desktop, Gadgets now float free. An example of a free floating Gadget is our open source dashboard for, the federal government’s information service for maps and data. The dashboard enables “at-a-glance” visualization of map servers around the country and monitoring of search from the Windows 7 desktop. The GOS Dashboard is a free download and the latest development report is available here - check it out with Windows 7 (or Vista even ;-).
- Jeff

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rapid #GEOINT update - a standards-based SOA perspective

GEOINT has traditionally been a product-focused, read-only business. But this “one-way” model doesn’t allow analysts and warriors to easily affect the content in a way that can be immediately shared in a net-centric environment.

But new geospatial enterprise services implementing OGC Web Feature Service (WFS) break the one-way model, and let analysts and warriors interact with net-centric sources and affect remote content. This is possible because OGC has not only standards dealing with maps, imagery and metadata but a very powerful concept supported by the WFS specification – Transactions. WFS Transactions allow users to select mission-critical information and then push out value-added content for reuse by others. This two-way information flow makes is possible to interact and share geospatial content. For example, users can add or revise data from the front lines providing instant update to the rest of the net-centric geospatial services environment.

How? The "WFS-T" provides a way to interact with and affect the remote content directly from the end-user. So an end-user can now alter the global data view from a remote location using tools based on standards. Standards-based commercial off-the-shelf software (SCOTS) services now use this capability in a very powerful fashion (see above). But to make geospatial services and Geography Markup Language (GML) usable by everyone light, user-friendly software clients are needed that can work with any geospatial service. These tools need to let users to post updates in a visual and intuitive way. To accommodate for users who can’t rely on stable network connectivity, a standalone application is also needed - and a friendly user-interface must wrap complexity into an easy-to-use application.

So now, with little training anyone can use these tools to rapidly update geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, (see above). This capability will let analysts and warriors quickly interact with geospatial enterprise services and affect remote content vital to ongoing military operations.

- Jeff

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Carbon Project to Support Near-Real Time Access at GEOINT 2009

The Carbon Project is pleased to announce it will bring its near-real time geospatial access solutions to the GEOINT 2009 symposium on October 18-21, in San Antonio, Texas.

The Carbon Project’s Gaia SDI platform will be used to access high-value, time-dominant geospatial-intelligence (GEOINT) at the symposium. Based on Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), the Gaia SDI platform is designed to provide the next-generation of access, update and geosynchronization capability for intelligence, military and humanitarian assistance requirements.

Rapid delivery of information using standard web services is essential to GEOINT users today. The Carbon Project is proud to bring this capability to GEOINT 2009.

For more information please contact or visit the DigitalGlobe booth at GEOINT 2009 from October 18-21 in San Antonio, Texas.
Graphic source: United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Government spatial "infrastructure" helping power Google Maps

Last week users in the US started noticing a change in Google Maps - the familiar Tele Atlas copyright was gone from many tiles and "all of that new green park land was" an indicator something big was up. The change was that Google started working with publicly accessible geospatial datasets like Census, transportation, USDA Forest Service's Forest Boundaries and the US Geological Survey's National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) from the US National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) to create a new base map dataset. According to Google Maps blog, "these organizations that create the data do the best job of keeping it accurate and up-to-date." Of course, Google is also using lots and lots of data it collects from its own fleet of mapping vehicles - called Streetview - plus data from other sources like aerial and satellite imagery, walking trails etc.

What's the NSDI? It's a coordinated national approach to geospatial data creation, maintenance, discovery, and use - and includes access to geospatial data for the Nation developed by Federal, State, and Local governments, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia. Folks in this community often refer to NSDI "Framework" data - themes of common data layers like elevation of the land, map images, transportation, surface water, cadastral data, governmental unit boundaries, etc. Examples are shown above in the Gaia patform, a tool created to view and update individual components of an SDI. Strictly speaking, the NSDI includes not just data but policies, standards and people needed for geospatial information sharing throughout all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia. NSDI coordination in the US is led by organizations like the FGDC. Anybody can get access to this infrastructure as raw data and standard web maps through online government services like this one and others.

So where's all this heading? Well, it's likely there will be changes in other areas like Europe coming, and more public-private partnering - but I think the emerging picture is bigger than Google only. One thing to keep an eye is that the NSDI is maintained and accessed as locally as possible, closest to the people that know it.
- Jeff

Friday, October 09, 2009

Broadcasting live on Internet DigitalGlobe launches one very cool satellite

Broadcasting live on the Internet from Vandenberg Air Force Base, WorldView-2 roared into orbit yesterday atop a Boeing Delta II rocket - making DigitalGlobe the only commercial imagery company with a high-res, eight-band multispectral imagery capability. The capability will enable higher levels of feature identification and extraction and more accurately reflect the world’s natural color - with potential for many applications, including environmental monitoring, change detection, and defense and intelligence. WorldView-2’s advanced geopositional technology is allowing for significant improvements in accuracy as well -with no processing, no elevation model and no ground control. With WorldView-1, and anticipated for WorldView-2, the accuracy is coming in at a remarkable 4.1m CE90. If all that wasn't enough, other features announced are just wicked cool -

"WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 are the first commercial satellites to have control moment gyroscopes (CMGs). This high-performance technology provides acceleration up to 10X that of other attitude control actuators and improves both maneuvering and targeting capability. With the CMGs, slew time is reduced from over 60 seconds to only 9 seconds to cover 300km. This means WorldView-2 will be able to rapidly swing precisely from one target to another, allowing extensive imaging of many targets, as well as stereo, in a single orbital pass.

With its improved agility, WorldView-2 will be able to act like a paintbrush, sweeping back and forth to collect very large areas of multispectral imagery in a single pass. WorldView-2 alone will be able to collect nearly 1 million sq km every day, doubling the collection capacity of our constellation to nearly 2 million sq km per day. And the combination of WorldView-2’s increased agility and high altitude enables it to typically revisit any place on earth in 1.1 days. When added to our constellation, revisit time drops below one day and never exceeds two days, providing the most same-day passes of any commercial high resolution satellite constellation.

Along with the four typical multispectral bands: Blue (450-510), Green (510-580), Red (630-690) and NearIR (770-895), WorldView-2 introduces the following new color bands for enhanced multispectral analysis:

Coastal Band (400 - 450 nm) This band supports vegetation identification and analysis, and supports bathymetric studies based upon its chlorophyll and water penetration characteristics. Also, this band is subject to atmospheric scattering and will be used to investigate atmospheric correction techniques.

Yellow Band (585 - 625 nm) Used to identify "yellow-ness" characteristics of targets, important for vegetation applications. Also, this band will assist in the development of "true-color" hue correction for human vision representation.

Red Edge Band (705 - 745 nm) Aids in the analysis of vegetative condition. Directly related to plant health revealed through chlorophyll production.

Near Infrared 2 Band (860 - 1040 nm) This band overlaps the NIR 1 band but is less affected by atmospheric influence. It supports vegetation analysis and biomass studies"

Sources: DigitalGlobe

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What does the NSDI look like? A partial view...

Yesterday someone asked, "what does the NSDI look like?" After coffee this morning and before my first meeting I took 30 minutes to see if I could generate a picture using online sources. What I came up with is above, all accessed in the last 30 minutes with Gaia using WMS/WFS/GML,, GOS Dashboard and Bing. From the bottom up - spatial data from localities and states, information on the environment, imagery of all types, elevations, water, transportation, community boundaries and names.

Of course, it's very incomplete, and uses just 13 out of thousands of possible services with no data files like KML - and my apologies to Alaska and Hawaii.

- Jeff
(Sources: USGS Framework WMS/WFS, MassGIS WFS/WMS, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, Maine WMS, NASA WMS, EPA WFS, EDNA WMS, Bing Maps,, GOS Dashboard, Gaia)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Obama's Place Policy and Geospatial - Focus on Collaboration

The concept of place-based policy has been emerging for years, and it's no surprise the Obama Administration has latched onto it given their community focus. Basically, place policies target the prosperity, equity, sustainability and livability of places - how well or how poorly they function as places and how they change over time. In some circles this is called "place-making".

This is a worthy goal, but it seems the initial "geospatial" reaction often is to shout, "What we have is broken!" However, it seems more reasonable to recognize the key aspect of place-based policy is to enable neighborhoods, localities, states and regions, and then ask the queston, "How can we build on what we have to help?"For geospatial information and tools the answer is likely not just how to make federal apparatus bigger and more integrated - but rather how to make it more collaborative with neighborhoods, localities, states and regions.

For example, geospatial information and tools supporting place-based policy can be maintained locally, closest-to-source - and federal investment could be provided to these local levels where the expertise and data creation responsibilities reside. With this type of collaboration national spatial data infrastructure standards and interoperability are key.

Why do all this? Just look at the agenda - fostering homeownership through neighborhood-based approaches, supporting public safety, advancing environmental health, etc - it can't be effectively implemented without shared local to national geospatial knowledge.

- Jeff