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Designing our future | P. 44

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April 2013 » VOL 03 » ISSUE 09 | ISSN 2277–3134


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Inside... April 2013 • Vol 3 • Issue 9 Articles

Cover Story

Geodesign 44  Designing our Future Geoff Zeiss

Feature 54  The Game begins Ridhima Kumar

Land administration in Liberia 60  Through war and peace Nigel Edmead

Big Data The future is in analytics 28 Prof. Arup Dasgupta

Ghana 64  Eye on development Vaibhav Arora


Jeff Allen 40  General Manager, BAE Systems CHAIRMAN M P Narayanan Publisher Sanjay Kumar Publications Team Managing Editor Prof. Arup Dasgupta Editor — Building & Energy Geoff Zeiss Editor — Latin America (Honorary) Tania Maria Sausen Editor — Geospatial World Weekly Dr. Hrishikesh Samant Executive Editor Bhanu Rekha Deputy Executive Editor Anusuya Datta Product Manager Harsha Vardhan Madiraju Assistant Editors Deepali Roy, Vaibhav Arora, Anand Kashyap Sub-Editor Ridhima Kumar Graphic Designer Subhash Kumar Circulation Manager Amit Shahi Disclaimer Geospatial World does not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed in the publication. All views expressed in this issue are those of the contributors. Geospatial World is not responsible for any loss to anyone due to the information provided.

Michael Rendler 50  Director, e7 Architecture Studio Corner Office arl Bass 24  CCEO, Autodesk ‘The next half a dozen years will be very exciting for the industry’ 07  Editorial 08  News

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Taking mapping to new heights. Fly high with the Eagle f210. The UltraCam Eagle now features an exchangeable 210mm lens system that allows you to fly high-altitude missions and still capture the same high-resolution, geometrically accurate PAN imagery you’ve come to expect from UltraCam technology. No need to be concerned about the increased atmosphere: the superb signal-to-noise ratio of the UltraCam Eagle f 210 allows for an exceptionally high image dynamic that allows for correction of color shifts caused by atmosphere, haze, hotspots, and other artifacts using the UltraMap workflow software. Meanwhile, the small field of view of this new lens minimizes lean for tall buildings while still allowing full utilization of the Eagle 20,010 pixel swath width for ortho image production. Occlusions are minimal even for narrow streets or alleys! Create Orthos, Digital Surface Models & Point Clouds with UltraMap 3.0. The superb geometry and best-in-class radiometry of the UltraCam Eagle f210 naturally also benefit the downstream data processing in UltraMap. AT results are outstanding and through Dense Matcher and OrthoPipeline modules new to v3.0, UltraCam data from any height can be leveraged to rapidly and automatically create high-density point clouds, digital surface models, and DSM/DTM-based orthomosaics.

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©2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, UltraCam, UltraMap and UltraCam Eagle are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.


Caution: Disruptive technologies ahead Prof Arup Dasgupta Managing Editor


echnologies are called disruptive because they make us relook at what we are doing and force us to think of taking new approaches that we failed to consider, or considered and rejected on grounds of impracticality. Data, data acquisition, storage and analysis have changed their very nature because of such disruptive technologies. Data used to be something that was standardised in terms of formats and contents. The availability of cheap GPS mobiles brought in VGI. While national mapping organisations are still grappling with the issue of validating such data, entrepreneurs have gone ahead and made the data available to end users. As a wag once put it, data which is 50% in error is a 100% improvement over a situation where there is no data. Another disruption has been caused by social media. While many dismissed social media as a teenage fad, they soon found that it was a great instrument to quickly mobilise activists. Politicians now use social media to drum up support; retail giants scan social media to track adverse reports on their products. In disaster situations, social media now has replaced the ham radio as the instrument of quick information collection and broadcasting. As the world goes digital, all of us leave a trail of location information which is potentially useful information for governments and businesses. How much are we spending, on what, when, which are our preferred stores, airlines, cab services are all tracked as we use our mobile phones, Internet

devices and credit cards to communicate, purchase item, take photographs and so on. It is frightening to know that the storage capacity for information generated started falling short as far back as 2007 and is only linearly scaling up while data explodes nearly exponentially. Distributed computing, data warehousing, grid and Cloud were technical solutions to handle this problem. Now comes a new way of looking at storage where the data is left unstructured and processed in runtime as data streams to cull out useful information which could then be warehoused. The challenge is analytics that can search for patterns and anomalies in patterns, for similarities between data streams. Welcome to the world of Big Data. So how will the world adapt to this disruptive technology? How will this impact SDIs, standards, policy, regulations, costs? It is already impacting environmental planning, business processes and location services. The article on Geodesign also covers the use of such data to individualise habitat and make them eco-friendly and sustainable. May be gaming will begin to use real-life situations. Imagine racing your virtual car in actual F1 race! Or will it be as the title of a report on information overload suggests: Information Overload: We have met the enemy and he is us? 

Geospatial World | April 2013


Americas news Business GE, Google team up for improved utility productivity GE and Google have inked an agreement which will integrate Google Maps data into GE’s Smallworld electrical, telecommunications and gas applications. The combined solution will enhance existing network visualisation capabilities and allow utility customers to receive incremental efficiency and productivity of operations in the field. By enhancing the ability to visualise data on a map, utility customers will be able to quickly provide their end-use customers with important information such as outage restoration times and efficiently manage their network assets.

Second Wind, Pentalum ink deal to promote RS technology Second Wind and Pentalum Technologies have partnered to promote the use of remote sensing for the wind energy industry. Under the agreement, Second Wind will work with Pentalum Technologies to sell and support the Pentalum SpiDAR wind measurement LiDAR system. According to Larry Letteney, CEO of Second Wind, wind developers need a mix of sound detection and ranging (SODAR) and LiDAR technologies to meet their goals.

MDA inks $4.3-mn deal for image processing centre MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Limited (MDA) has signed a $4.3 million contract with OGSystems to develop a surveillance prototype for the US Army Geospatial Center. The 8

Geospatial World | April 2013

firm says the deal will see them build a small, mobile ground station that can receive and process images from satellites and can be quickly -mn deployed anywhere in the deal for satellite world. MDA image processsays this work ing centre will complement a similar contract it had with the US Army Corps of Engineers announced in September 2010.

MicroGRAM, a stamp-sized GPS receiver used for microembedded applications.


Boeing bags $51-mn GPS contract Boeing will continue modernising the GPS satellite constellation for up to five more years, extending the company’s role in the vital military and civilian navigation network. The US Air Force, which operates the GPS network, awarded Boeing a $51 million, one-year contract with four one-year options. The contract covers GPS IIF satellite shipment GPS IIF satellites contract with Boeing to the launch site in Florida, pre-launch preparation, post-launch checkout, handover and on-orbit support. Boeing, which has been part of GPS since the network’s inception in the 1970s, has produced nearly 70% of the satellites launched in support of the GPS constellation.


Rockwell Collins gets $3.2 million deal Rockwell Collins has received a $3.2-million technology investment

Courtesy: Rockwell Collins

agreement from the Department of Defense (DoD) to continue the next phase of the low-cost military GPS programme. DoD previously selected the company for the first phase of the programme to develop the next generation military GPS selective availability anti-spoofing module (SAASM), a small device that allows decryption of precision GPS coordinates. Rockwell Collins said the programme has saved DoD about $100 million to date by reducing the size, weight, power and cost of military GPS devices.

‘Continued growth in microsatellite market’ There will be a continued growth in the nano/microsatellite market, with an estimated range of 121 to 188 nano/ microsatellites (1—50 kg) that will need launches globally in 2020 (versus 33 in 2012), according to projections released by SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. The Nano/Microsatellite Market Assessment by SpaceWorks shows that

Americas news

Announced future (2013-15) small satellites by industrial sector



Civil Defense



Commercial Government

Courtesy: Spaceworks Enterprises

Scientists map water evapotranspiration rates for the US For the first time, US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have mapped long-term average evapotranspiration rates across the continental United States. Knowing evapotranspiration rates for a region will help water managers and policymakers calculate how much water is available for people and ecosystems. The map will help them better plan for the water availability challenges that will occur as our climate changes since transpiration rates vary widely depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, precipitation, soil type and wind. To produce these maps, USGS scientists examined Landsat satellite imagery for climate and land-cover data from 1971 to 2000 and streamflow data for more than 800 watersheds for the same time period.

DigitalGlobe reports 28% revenue increase

margin by approximately 810 basis points.

DigitalGlobe has reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2012. Fourth quarter 2012 revenue was $125.4 million, a 28% increase compared with the same period last year. Net income for the fourth quarter was $17.1 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $27.0 million or $(0.58) per diluted share in fourth quarter 2011. Fourth quarter 2012 EBITDA was $57.6 million, driving an EBITDA margin of 45.9%. Fourth quarter 2012 EBITDA margin expanded year-over-year despite incurring $10.2 million in one-time expenses related to the combination with GeoEye, which negatively impacted fourth quarter 2012 EBITDA

Applications Cost-effective indoor location system New technology from product development firm Cambridge Consultants can accurately detect someone’s location indoors when GPS drops out. A number of sensors and a custom algorithm determine the location, with an accuracy of within approximately 1% of the distance travelled. Yet the technology uses low-power, low-cost sensors and the device concept is small enough to clip on a belt. It also doesn’t need any existing internal infrastructure. “It could be used to help locate

firefighters in smoke-filled buildings, or to pinpoint the closest doctor in a hospital during an emergency,” said Geoff Smithson, technology director, sensing systems, at Cambridge Consultants.

Miscellaneous FEMA seeks to bring geospatial data into cloud In order to move geospatial data to the cloud environment to provide federal, state and local agencies and other partners with real-time access to critical data during emergencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued a request for information. FEMA’s Disaster Management and Support Environment (DMSE) ProGeospatial World | April 2013


Courtesy: USGS

nano/microsatellite launches have grown by an average of 8.6% per year since 2000, with an expected 16.8% growth per year over the next 7 years (2013-2020). Analysis of trends by sector show that nano/microsatellite development continues to be led by the civil sector (including academic), but the defense/intelligence community is showing increased interest and involvement.

Americas news

GPS Innovation Alliance launched

NASA launches new earth observation satellite

Citing the ever increasing importance of GPS to the global economy and infrastructure, a group of GPS advocates announced the formation of the GPS Innovation Alliance, an organisation dedicated to furthering GPS innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Members of the Alliance are drawn from a wide variety of fields and businesses reliant on GPS. These include manufacturing, aviation, agriculture, construction, transportation, first responders and surveying and mapping.

NASA has launched its latest earth observation satellite, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM). The satellite was blasted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission, which is scheduled to last for five years, is a collaboration between Nasa and the US Geological Survey (USGS). Once in orbit, after three months of

Unrestricted access to details of volcanic eruptions

Courtesy: NASA

Landsat Data Continuity Mission 10

Geospatial World | April 2013

Courtesy: World Resources Institute

extensive testing, the LDCM satellite will be renamed Landsat 8 and operational control will then be transferred to USGS. Although the mission is planned to last five years, the satellite carries sufficient fuel for 10 years of operations.

gram Management Office is interested in developing a cloud environment that will support geospatial efforts to merge data and processes of several legacy systems. The solution, FEMA officials envision, should be easily managed by administrators working within .net and .gov domains, according to the RFI.

Details of around 2,000 major volcanic eruptions, which occurred over the last 1.8 million years, are now available in a new open access database, compiled by scientists at the University of Bristol with colleagues from the UK, US, Colombia and Japan. The open access database of Large Magnitude Explosive Eruptions (LaMEVE) will provide rapid, searchable access to the breadth of information available on large volcanic events of magnitude 4 or greater with a quantitative data quality score.

Map of global water risks unveiled Water, or the lack thereof, is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century.

The threat of dwindling water resources is worrying not just environmentalists and governments but companies and their investors, too. World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct project has unveiled the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas which shows maps of freshwater globally. The interface allows companies, investors, governments and other interested parties to visualise and compare water conditions, from the continental scale to the local one. The full version of the atlas, three years in the making, harnesses the latest geo-tagged scientific data to create 12 different indicators of water quality, including drought, flood and seasonal variability.

Consortium for unmanned aerial remote sensing The Oregon State University (OSU) is in the process of forming a consortium with the industry, academia and government to develop a new era of unmanned aerial systems for remote sensing, to perform tasks that range from environmental monitoring to fighting forest fires, protecting crops or aiding law enforcement. OSU and its partners will coordinate closely with the Oregon Innovation Council to support unmanned aerial systems, including their use in forest fire monitoring and response. The consortium will offer enormous opportunities for scientific research, important advances in land management, and new jobs, educational programmes and economic growth for the state of Oregon.

Europe news

France Funding secured for GMES mission

€3,786 mn

NASA, ESA collaborate on Sentinel 2 and Landsat

Measuring greenhouse gas emissions across Paris


Astrium will contribute to the development and demonstration of a service capable of measuring citywide emissions of greenhouse gases (methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) as part of the CarboCountCity contract signed with Climate-KIC, worth €4 million. The first measurements will be taken in Paris over a three-year period. These measurements will be used to create highly accurate emissions maps for city councils and local authorities.

AVE 394 Barcelona-Sevilla train near Vinaixa, Spain

Tracking trains with satellite precision

Miniature satellite to map global vegetation

Taking a cue from how ESA controls satellites, Spanish railways now have their own high-tech upgrade to keep travellers abreast of when the next train is going to pull into the station. The system was developed by a group of Elecnor Deimos engineers who had worked extensively on ESA projects. The outcome of this technology transfer is that up-to-date train schedules are now displayed at over 400 Spanish stations. “This came about as a result of the team’s work with ESA’s largest satellite, Envisat,” said Carlos Fernández de la Peña, Director of Systems and Networks at Deimos.

The French Spot satellites have been charting the world’s vegetation since 1998. This important task soon falls to ESA’s Proba-V, which, despite being only a little larger than a washing machine, will provide sharp views of earth’s plant life every two days. This small satellite carries

Courtesy: ESA

European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA have joined forces to ensure that Sentinel-2 and the newly launched EO satellite, Landsat Data Continuity Mission offer compatible data products, thereby bringing greater benefits to users of images of earth’s land and coastal zones. Francois Spoto, the Sentinel-2 Project Manager, said, “Thanks to the cooperation between the two agencies, we are aiming to improve the interop-

a very wide-angle telescope with a 2250-km field of view, about double the width that MERIS offered. It will also deliver a spatial resolution three times sharper than the Spot Vegetation sensor.

Courtesy: ESA

In an environment of budget constraints and economic crisis, there is some good news for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme. The European Council has secured the programme’s EU funding through 2020. The multiannual financial framework (MFF) is a allocated for the seven-year GMES programme plan for the EU’s budget. The European heads of state have agreed to include GMES in the 2014–20 MFF. Within the new framework, €3,786 million was allocated for GMES. The funds will allow GMES operations to continue to provide ever-improving global environmental data to services stimulating economic growth and job creation in Europe.

erability of the three satellites (two Sentinel-2 and LDCM), reducing the average revisit time to just three days over the equator and generate comparable data products.”

Proba-V Satellite

New system improves GPS efficiency by 90% A new car navigation system developed by researchers at the Geospatial World | April 2013


Europe news Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain may soon pave the way to driverless cars with GPS that’s up to 90% more accurate than systems used today. Additionally, it would make navigating in urban areas with tall buildings and trees more easy as GPS signals from satellites will not get obstructed by urban structures. The prototype incorporates a conventional GPS signal with those of other sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes) in order to reduce the margin of error in establishing a location.

First high-resolution passive radar system developed A passive high-resolution primary radar system has been developed by Indra, a Spanish firm. The project was sponsored by the European Defence Agency (EDA). This is the first passive system in the world that is capable of offering images with the application of inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) techniques. The passive radar is characterised by not emitting any form of radiation, it uses the signals present in the environment. In case of Indra’s system, the radar uses Digital Terrestrial Television signals as the noncooperative sources of illumination in the environment.

Germany Satellite centre for crisis info launches regular operations The Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) will now provide its services around the clock. This service facility established in 2004 provides up-to-the minute satellite-based maps for activities related to natural and 12

Geospatial World | April 2013

environmental disasters, humanitarian aid, and civil security worldwide. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) has officially launched regular ZKI operations.

Sweden ‘LBS revenues to reach €825-mn by 2017’ According to a new research report by Berg Insight, mobile location-based service (LBS) of mobile subscribers in Europe use revenues in location applications Europe are forecasted to grow from €325 million in 2012 at a compound annual growth rate of 20.5% to reach €825 million in 2017. The North American LBS market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 9.2% from $ 835 million in 2012 to reach $ 1,295 million in 2017. Berg Insight estimates that 40% of all mobile subscribers in Europe use some kind of location-enhanced application on a regular basis.


UK Open source alternative to GPS developed GPS satellites are great for getting around and looking up directions and smartphones and tablets, but they are controlled by the US Defense Department, which has degraded public signals in the past. Philipp Ronnenberg, a Masters’ student in design interactions at the Royal College of Art in London, showed off the first prototype sensors for his

alternate “Open Positioning System,” which are designed to pick up regular seismic waves given off by large machinery in nearby power plants and factories. Once a sensor detects at least three different nearby seismic wave sources, Ronnenberg theorises it should be able to determine its location.

Royal Navy ship maps undersea canyon Courtesy: The Independent

Underwater canyon in the Red Sea

A Royal Navy ship has discovered and mapped a ‘Grand Canyon’ beneath the Red Sea using state-of-the-art technology. HMS enterprise discovered the 250-metre-deep (820ft) canyon beneath the Red Sea during a nine-month mission to improve understanding of the waters east of Suez. The Devonport-based ship created 3D images of the canyon, which was found after the ship left the Egyptian port of Safaga. The ship used a state-of-the-art multi-beam echo sounder, which is fitted to the hull of The Enterprise for mapping and measuring the sea bed. The echo sounder is considered a highly accurate way of measuring the sea bed in order to correctly determine if the depth of water is safe for navigation and shipping.

Creating your own map from maps published by other users is just one of many ways to take advantage of the rich collection of data and resources ArcGIS Online makes available to you. SM

Welcome to the new frontier in geographic information systems.

30-day free trial: Copyright Š 2012 Esri. All rights reserved.

Asia news China China tops the race for most EO satellite launches in 2012 The country has emerged as an undisputable leader in the number of earth remote sensing spacecrafts launched in 2012. China launched 8 satellites in 2012, outrunning Russia (3 satellites), France (2 satellites), meteorological Eumetsat organisation (2 meteosatellites) and 9 more countries, which launched one satellite each. In 2012 there were 24 civil, commercial and military spacecrafts for earth observation launched belonging to 13 countries and organisations.

collaborative effort with key stakeholders to modernise its land and resources management. ‘One Map’ collects data related to land use situation, land-use plan, basic farmland, farmland classification and gradation and urban cadastre among others from the Bureau’s 18 databases so that it can be easily accessed on one location. The base map adopts the remote sensing data, which covers the whole city with a resolution of 0.6 metres and can detect the changes within an area of 0.3 acres, thus providing decision makers with accurate and authoritative data on the city’s land and resources.

First key laboratory for GI engineering established China’s first state key laboratory for Geographic Information Engineering (GIE) has been established at a surveying and mapping institute affiliated to the General Staff Headquarters (GSH) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is said that this is the only state key laboratory in the field of military surveying, mapping and navigation in China, mainly engaging in basic research and application research of global geospatial information with the focus on exploring and innovating spacetime benchmark calibration and new theories and technologies related to navigation.

Ningbo city completes ‘One-Map’ project The Ningbo Municipal Bureau of Land and Resources has completed its ‘One Map’ project after two years of 14

Geospatial World | April 2013

Courtesy: Future Gov

Ningbo City Map 2010

Japan New satellites to boost surveillance In a bid to strengthen its surveillance capabilities including keeping a closer eye on North Korea which has vowed to stage another nuclear test, the country has launched two satellites. One of them is a radarequipped unit to complete a system of surveillance satellites that will allow Tokyo to monitor any place in the world at least once a day. The other is a demonstration satellite to collect data for research and development. From an altitude of several hundred km, the

radar satellite will be able to detect objects on the ground as small as a square metre, including at night and through cloud cover.

India Billion dollar plan for police force modernisation Sensing the urgency to strengthen police infrastructure across the country to meet day-to-day law and order challenges, the Centre has approved continuation of special schemes to modernise police forces in states worth over Rs 12,000 approved by crore ( $2.4 bn Centre for states approx) and earmarked nearly 20% additional funds for its ongoing ‘Mega City Policing’ plan for Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. The fund will be used by these cities to procure modern equipment like GPS/GIS for ‘Dial 100’ systems and patrol cars, CCTV systems, vehicle scanners, vehicle number plate identification systems, cyber patrol and communication monitoring systems and integrated GIS-based automated vehicle tracking and management systems.


ISRO plans 0.25 metre resolution EO satellite The Indian Space Research Organisation is planning to build a remote sensing satellite, Cartosat-3, capable of taking images of the earth with a resolution of 0.25 metres. Currently, GeoEye-1 produces the highest

Asia news resolution earth images taken by a commercial satellite at 0.41 metre resolution. WorldView-2, another satellite operated by the same company, DigitalGlobe, offers a best resolution of 0.46 metres. However, in accordance with U.S. regulations, commercially released images from these satellites are degraded to 0.5 metre resolution.

Karnataka state to build database for mineral zones The Karnataka government has embarked on a project to build a geo database on GIS application system for mapping mineralised zones, developing mineral atlas, data on existing leases, which will be helpful to process the mining applicamining leases digitised in the state tions online. The main objective of the project is to delineate the mineral belts on various potential zones in the state by adopting remote sensing techniques marking the free hold areas for the benefit of the entrepreneurs.


that can help us and other government ministries identify or redirect the location of their project where we know they can achieve maximum results and where people can really benefit from it,” said Dato Rosni Abdul Malek, Director of the National Databank and Innovation Centre.

Iran Zafar satellite to be launched in September Iran plans to launch its domesticallyproduced satellite, Zafar in September 2013, said the president of Iran’s University of Science and Technology. Zafar has more capabilities compared to its original version, Navid, as it can take high resolution photos of locations around the globe. The satellite will be used for remote sensing missions. Zafar will have a lifespan of one year and six months and will capture images with a resolution of 80 meters and then transmit them to stations on earth. Courtesy: b14643.det

Malaysia Determining project location suitability via GIS To help government agencies better identify a suitable location for their projects, the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Malaysia will launch a GIS application this year. “We’ve had problems where we discover that the locations selected turned out to be unsuitable for the project. We wanted to avoid such instances; we felt the need to develop a GIS system

Zafar satellite

Punjab. A project of PKR 76.437 million for development of digitised profile for agriculture land in Punjab was being executed by Agriculture Department to develop spatial data base for soilclimate suitability for crops, vegetables and fruits in 114 targeted tehsils. The website of Soil Fertility Research Institute has been unveiled where comprehensive GIS-based information regarding soil and water analysis of 69 tehsils of Punjab is made available for farmers/ stakeholders for improving soil fertility and productivity enhancement.

Belarus First contract for delivery of satellite images Belarus has signed the first contract for the provision of images from the Belarusian space satellite. The framework contract for the provision of geospatial information services was signed by Geoinformation Systems affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the GeoInnovation Agency Innoter. In accordance with the terms of the contract, the national operator of the Belarusian space system for remote sensing of the earth has already provided GIA Innoter with a set of micro-frames of panchromatic and polyzonal imagery with the files of RPC-coefficients for the total area of 2,740 sq km.



GIS-based system for soil, water analysis

Satellite and space industry in the offing

Soil Fertility Research Institute Lahore has developed a GIS-based system for soil and water analysis of 69 tehsils of

Singapore is making a major push to develop its satellite and space technology industry. Minister in the Geospatial World | April 2013


Asia news Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran announced setting up of an inter-agency office to oversee the development of Singapore’s local space industry. The Economic Development Board (EDB), together with participating ministries and agencies, have formed the Office for Space Technology and Industry or OSTIn.

Non-European partner for next EO satellite

Philippines Monitoring illegal logging via geo-tagging The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started “Project Geo-tagging” in Caraga Region, a strategy to efficiently monitor the movement of logs sold to various wood-processing plants. Officers have been equipped with digital tablets in which they 16

Geospatial World | April 2013

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is training its team on the use of geo-tagging technology for project management. Its innovative use of the technology is the first among government agencies in the Philippines. The geo-tagging process involves attaching location-specific information such as geographical coordinates to pictures, videos and even SMS messages. Users would need a GPSenabled phone and Internet connection to upload multimedia to a Web-based application such as Google, which provides the platform to geo-tag at no cost. This geo-tagging activity is part of the Second Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP2) being implemented by the DA. The technology enables the project team to validate, monitor and evaluate actual progress on the ground.

Courtesy: World Bank

Astrium is seeking for a partner to develop its new geostationary earth observation (EO) satellite, the GO-3S. According to reports, Astrium is reaching out to countries outside of Europe to help finance this venture. The company has indicated that Singapore could be one of the possible countries interested in the GO-3S. To entice possible partners, Astrium is offering dedicated capacity and share of revenue from services derived from the satellite. The GO-3S will cover approximately one quarter of the earth’s surface with a 3-meter resolution and a picture rate of five images per second.

Geo-tagging World Bank projects to fight corruption

An employee from the Department of Agriculture takes a photo of a road project in the Philippines as part of geo-tagging activities

can easily access to the data, in this case, the logs being transported to its destination can be located at a flick of a finger. This strategy aims to eliminate, once and for all, the movement of illegal logs in the region which has been considered a perennial problem.

Thailand New mapping database to be available in 5 yrs A mapping database using 1:4,000 scale will be made available in the next five years in a move to standardise usage as well as help prepare

for long-term planning and development in the country, Deputy Premier Plodprasop Suraswadi said. The GPS system would be useful when implementing some projects under the $11 billion water-management scheme and the $60 billion strategy for large-scale infrastructure, he said, in addition to other projects such as setting out farming zones or forest and land management. Plodprasob said the mapping scheme would be precise and an important strategy in long-term developments and policy-making. It would boost investor confidence, while the country is becoming a high-income nation from a moderate-income one.

Africa news South Sudan

Mapping of nation’s bank ‑The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has

RS technology helps in developing map of Sudd wetland

commenced the mapping of all financial access points across the country as part of efforts to drive its newly unveiled financial inclusion strategy. Research company Brand Fusions Limited, has been contracted to conduct the GIS mapping and is being funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The contract is specifically to map the location of financial services in relation to population density. The purpose of this project is to find out the locations of bank branches and other outlets that provide some sort of financial services in the country.

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is developing an up-to-date map of one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world, Sudd, with the help of remote sensing data supplied by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The project is being carried out under the framework of JAXA’s Kyoto and Carbon (K&C) Initiative.” The long-wave Satellite images based on synthetic aperture radar band radar data acquired by the PALSAR instrument between 2006- are enabling researchers to see water distribution in the wet-season Sudd for the first time 2011 is allowing scientists to see what is happening beneath the vegetation canopy. “We get a very distinct signal between open water, flooded vegetation and terrestrial land,” says Lisa-Maria Rebelo, a researcher in remote sensing at IWMI.

Satellite data for environment monitoring Information gathered from many earth satellites would help Nigeria to develop its environment, agricultural and water sectors in a sustainable manner, said Dr Emmanuel Obeng from Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana. Nigeria has a satellite reception station installed in Kaduna which transmits information to three other receiving stations. As a result, Obeng urged Nigerian experts to use capacity in the area to harness the potential of these data to improve the environmental sector.

South Africa TCS partners with Cellfind for LBS TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) and Johannesburg-based Cellfind, South Africa’s leading location-based

mobile services provider, announced a partnership agreement where Cellfind’s offerings will now include the LBS infrastructure solution provided by TCS. Mobile operators can now quickly enable location services and generate revenue almost immediately by using TCS’ hosted platform integrated with Cellfind’s LBS applications.

Digital mapping to change the country’s landscape Indoor digital mapping is set to grow in South Africa this year, according to Etienne Louw, managing director of MapIT. MapIT has done indoor mapping for of SMEs to spend more on digital about 32 of the mapping in 2013 76 shopping


centres and airports in South Africa, and they are working with a major university to help new students find their lecture rooms easily. Research by World Wide Worx has shown that small businesses and large corporations were spending more on digital mapping. According to its survey, 38% of small and medium enterprises (employing fewer than 200) spend more than ZAR 50,000 ($5,371 approx) a year on digital mapping.

Kenya Zambia, Kenya publish mining cadastre data online Zambia and Kenya have recently published their mining cadastre data online. These countries join a growing group of countries that have decided to put practical effect to Geospatial World | April 2013


Courtesy: JAXA


Africa news

has also been undertaken said the minister.

Ethiopia Topographic survey for Lake Tana

Kenya Mining Cadastre

internal efforts to drive operational efficiencies, improve stakeholder communications, reduce opportunities for corruption and improve transparency within their respective mining sectors. This step helps ministries to improve the data quality within their mining cadastre systems through effective stakeholder communication.

Ethiopia's Ministry of Water and Energy has reissued a call for expressions of interest from consultants to perform a topographic survey of the Lake Tana sub-basin flood plain, part of an Ethiopia water resources development and environmental management project. The topographic map will help identify the existing nature of all flood plain features, including specific landscape values that might be affected by different levels of floods. Beginning June 30, the work will support accurate flood plain modelling in the region.

deployment of Global Navigation Satellite System/European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (GNSS/ EGNOS) in the region. ASECNA, in collaboration with Egis, Pildo Labs and European satellite services provider ESSP has been appointed by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) to implement the Satellite navigation services for African Region (SAFIR) project. The SAFIR project will last two years and cover the set-up, staffing and operations of an EGNOSAfrica Joint Program Office (JPO) with proper regional participation of the various beneficiary countries. The missions of the future JPO will be to define the baseline and oversee the subsequent implementation phase for the specification and procurement of the development and deployment of GNSS/EGNOS in Africa.

Burkina Faso

Forest cover found to be more than estimated

GIS to strengthen land rights

Kenya’s forest cover is higher than previously thought after the Kenya Forestry Service conducted mapping using remote sensing technology. Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa indicated that an accurate figure of the forest cover is 6.6%, not less than 2% as estimated earlier. This means the country is more likely to reach 10% forest cover required by the Constitution. Using state-of-the-art GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Kenya Forestry Service and Kenya Forestry Research Institute conducted a countrywide survey. Detailed forest cover mapping and inventory for Mau Forest

The US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is investing in technology that will help the country's land authorities collect geographic information more easily, quickly, accurately, cheaply and consistently. This will deliver economic benefits to farmers and others in business and to the country as a whole, MCC said. The lack of clear land rights is an obstacle to building a strong economic foundation in Burkina Faso. MCC's five-year, $481 million contract with Burkina Faso includes the $59.9 million Rural Land Governance Project, aimed at improving land management and land-tenure security.


Geospatial World | April 2013

Map of Lake Tana

Ghana Implementation of SBAS project begins Pan-African air navigation services provider ASECNA has been given the go-ahead to start working for the future

Australia/Oceania news Australia Aerial mapping of Tonga to check sea level rise

Courtesy: ABC

Much of Antarctica’s geology remains hidden beneath the thick Antarctic ice cap, but our geological knowledge has recently increased following the release of a detailed map which describes some of the rare large exposures of ancient bedrock. Geoscience Australia has produced a 1st edition 1:25,000 scale geological map of the northern Jetty Peninsula region in Mac. Robertson Land, Antarctica. Mapping these regions helps to fulfill Australia’s international commitments under the Antarctic Treaty System to continue to enhance and share our scientific understanding of the Antarctic.

bined with GIS, can improve understanding of the epidemiology of RRV disease.

Researchers deploy drones to study ecosystem

Aerial mapping of Tonga to check sea level rise

G-tech used to study disease pattern Living close to the eastern margins of the Leschenault inlet increases the risk of contracting Ross River virus (RRV), according to a new research. RRV is a mosquito-borne disease that occurs through many areas of Australia. Activity of RRV is largely dependent on environmental conditions favouring mosquito breeding. This is the first study in Australia to use GIS to examine the links between risk of mosquito-borne disease and proximity of residence to known mosquito-breeding habitat. The study highlighted how historical data com20

Geospatial World | April 2013

University of Tasmania researchers have deployed a wide range of sensors aboard unmanned aircraft to map and monitor different aspects of the environment at ultra-high resolutions on demand. The TerraLuma research project at the University aims to develop novel tools and algorithms for environmental remote sensing applications and aerial surveys using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Upto-date and accurate spatial data are of crucial importance for sustainable management of our ecosystems. UAS offer an exciting and novel opportunity to map the environment in greater detail than ever before.

Pacific islands plan mapping of economic zones A new plan to map out the use of Pacific Island nations' exclusive eco-

Courtesy: Geoscience Australia

A project to map the typography of Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa to monitor sea level rise has begun. Using laser equipment, a 3D map of the islands will be created showing ground elevation, vegetation, canopy height and building placement. In the second phase of the project, training will be given to locals to monitor the changes in sea level.

Geological maps of Antarctic released

nomic zone will use marine spatial planning to allow countries to better plan the use of marine resources. Marine management incorporating fishing, mining, tourism and other sectors will all be taken into account. Paul Anderson, Environmental Monitoring Analyst from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, said the beginning of the project starts with the understanding what marine spatial planning means.

Spatially enabling national sports data A collaborative project between Centre for eCommerce and Communications (CeCC) and the School of Health Sciences at the University of Ballarat, in partnership with the Australian Sports Commission, Victoria University and VicHealth, which involves the development of a spatial ICT system of sporting and recreation data, is gaining much interest from peak sporting organisations in Australia. The Sport and Recreation

Australia/Oceania news Courtesy: CECC

communicating the information, via various channels and at appropriate levels of detail, to the wide spectrum of people involved in making emergency decisions.

New Zealand Spatial project provides a national system for presenting spatial data about the sports industry. Through the development of a sport and recreation spatial ICT system, tailored specifically for this project by CeCC, national and state-specific data can be mapped and statistically manipulated to gain a greater understanding of sport and recreational participation across Australia.

Real-time disaster mgmt platform soon The University of Melbourne, IBM and NICTA (National ICT Australia Ltd) are collaborating to develop the Australia Disaster Management Platform (ADMP), a next generation open standards-based IT platform aimed at improving disaster management, protecting communities and potentially saving lives. The platform will gather, integrate and analyse vast amounts of geospatial and infrastructure information from multiple data sets to create real-time practical information streams on disaster events. As well as enabling real-time situational awareness, the information streams will be used to develop simulation and optimisation models within available and changing constraints. The ADMP will be developed and implemented, in close collaboration with emergency services, over the next few years. The platform will facilitate informed decision-making by

Spatial knowledge gets priority in immigration An approach to immigration authorities to help ease a perceived shortage of New Zealand residents with digital geospatial knowledge has succeeded. The classification “other spatial scientist” has been added to Immigration New Zealand’s Long-Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL). This means that an immigrant who has a “bachelors degree specialising in geography or computer science and a minimum of two years’ relevant post-qualification work experience in GIS applications” will find it easier to qualify for a work or residence visa. “Migrants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category may gain bonus points towards their application if they have an offer of employment, work experience or qualifications in an area of absolute skill shortage identified on the LTSSL,” the document stated.

Funding for groundwater mapping project An initial $10,000 in funding has been secured for a multimilliondollar groundwater mapping project in Southland. for Southland groundwater A Venture mapping project Southland


joint committee decided to allocate the amount from its investigations and assessment fund for the project. Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said the project would be similar to topoclimate mapping in the region, which had proved valuable. The project would include a 3D water mapping and geological model and would also look at the potential for mineral extraction. Once the project is complete, the information would assist regional planners, rural and urban communities, farmers and businesses to make decisions about the assessment and allocation of water resources into the future.

Public access to land imagery soon Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is considering a “freemium” business model as a way of ensuring free public access to a multisourced database of land imagery of “national significance”. Under the suggested schemes, a basic imagery service would be provided free of charge. However LINZ does not intend to provide a premium imagery service, and is open to solutions that wrap a commercial premium offering around our primary objective. The premium service will involve extra value-added services, says programme manager Rachel Gabara; there will be no difference in imagery quality between the two services. “The intent of the envisioned imagery service is to efficiently make all public sector imagery (not only low quality) acquired on open licence freely available to the public,” added Gabara. Geospatial World | April 2013


Product Watch Canon scanners for GIS market Canon’s ImagePROGRAF MFP M25/40 scanner solutions complete a total workflow system ideal for large format printing, scanning, archiving and sharing of colour and black and white documents Its improved optical resolutions and technical documentation capabilities allow it to meet the unique needs of professionals in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and GIS markets.

Key features: ´´ It is compatible with seven different 24 inch to 44 inch large format printer models — iPF605, iPF650, iPF750, iPF760, iPF765, iPF815 and iPF825. ´´ It can scan full-colour images (of up to a maximum of 40 inches wide) at speeds of up to 10 inch per second and 13 inch per second in monochrome. ´´ It enables printing at 2400 x 1200 dpi with 4pl ink drop size. ´´ It incorporates up to 250GB built-in HDD and USB3.0 port.

Ashtech sensor for 6D positioning Ashtech ADU800 is a 6D positioning solution from Trimble. It provides position plus orientation for system integrators. Its interoperability with existing equipment and greater functionality makes way for system integrators to rapidly integrate and cost-effectively deploy the solution in their products and solutions. It is a suitable solution for a wide variety of airborne, marine and terrestrial applications. Key features: ´´ ADU800 is small, weatherproof, lightweight, rugged enclosure and is built using the GPS/Glonass/SBAS MB100 and MB800 boards. ´´ The solution provides precise heading, pitch and roll with 3D positioning. ´´ It provides accuracy up to centimetre-level and velocities at a rate of up to 20 Hz for static and dynamic platforms. ´´ It utilises ‘on-the-fly’ integer ambiguity resolution techniques with carrier phase measurements from the three on-board GNSS receivers.


Geospatial World | April 2013

Product Watch UltraCam gets 210 mm lens The new 210 mm lens for the UltraCam Eagle digital aerial camera system has the added benefit of capturing images at very high altitudes, e.g., 5 cm imagery at a 2,000-metre altitude. Moreover, users benefit from the greater radiometric dynamic produced by the UltraCam Eagle, which exceeds that of most other digital cameras available today. Key features: ´´ It allows data collection over restricted airspace, such as cities, without applying for special permits. ´´ It captures more bits-per-pixel image and makes possible to restore colours during processing, without losing any data.

Medico market to get g-power IMAGINE Business Development Platform is designed for medical organisations. It initiates, monitors and evaluates strategic marketing efforts.

ProMark 700 for land survey Spectra Precision’s ProMark 700 GNSS receiver is a RTK rover specifically designed for network RTK applications. The ProMark 700 is an intuitive, simple and easy-to-use receiver, where all operations are performed from the data collector. It is available through the Spectra Precision global dealer network. Key features: ´´ The light ProMark 700 weighs only 650 grams (1.4 pounds). ´´ It features a long battery life (typically over 10 hours) for all-day operation. ´´ It is rugged and waterproof, suitable for harsh outdoor environments. ´´ It is equipped with 220 dualfrequency and dual-constellation GNSS channels that allow tracking of all available L1/L2 GPS/GLONASS satellite signals.

Key features: ´´ It includes a custom GIS component that utilises up-to-date demographic and socioeconomic information to find new referrers, patients and partners. ´´ The platform combines traditional and digital marketing tools, including social media connectivity and web-based components, in a hybrid-cloud environment ´´ It provides automated follow-up and reporting, to deliver greater transparency in helping users understand, predict and act on each phase of the campaign process.

Geospatial World | April 2013


Corner Office  |  Carl Bass

‘The next half a dozen years will be very exciting for the industry’ A big believer in democratisation of design, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass has made it almost a household commodity. Yet, Bass believes that the consumer side of Autodesk’s business has received more media attention than the professional aspect of it

You have often said that design is more of a problem solving tool rather than graphics. How do you see the evolution of design as an industry in itself? There are two sides to this question. On one side, our job is that of a tool provider. So we can’t really shape the industry which has several strong forces. But on the other side, our ability to use our tools does not only distinguish us from other species; tools have actually influenced the development of human beings as species — of our hands, brains... In the end, tools define just how much humans can accomplish. And I don’t mean software tools, but physical tools here. Tools provide one of the boundaries of what we are capable of. So it is one of the important roles of the toolmaker to recognise that we are not only going to set the boundaries but we will also influence the development of our species. Your recent business strategy has expanded the scope of design, making it a household commodity. Has the entire business direction of Autodesk also changed towards consumers? The vast majority of our business is selling professional tools to our professional customers. That’s where our business is and that’s what we do every day. However, a few years ago we noticed that a lot of consumers have an interest in design and design tools. There are more people casually interested in design than the number of design and engineering professionals. I am a big believer in democratisation of design as I believe it’s a human impulse to create or change. One of the biggest things we have done at Autodesk is to make available for everybody some tools for 3D design, digital art and photography. We recognised that the use of casual design tools would be evolving very differently from the professional [segment]. So the first thing we did was made all those designs


Geospatial World | April 2013

easily accessible. Another thing we did was to make all our tools free for students. An interesting thing is we seem to be getting a lot of media attention for what we have been doing for consumers. This is simply because some of the things we do for our professional customers — how you design a city or a dam or a subway — is not what people take on as a hobby. So for the press, it doesn’t make much sense. But when they see design tools that can be used by themselves or even their kids, there is a lot of attention to it. I would say our press coverage for what we are doing for the consumers is more than what we are actually doing for our professional customers. That said, we as a company have learned a tremendous amount from our work with consumers and that is impacting how we develop software and technology for professionals.

access to information, amazing things happen.

Do you think your strategy of democratisation of design is similar to what Google has done to geospatial content? Absolutely. Over the past two years, over 100 million people have used Autodesk design tools. Previously, we had about 10-12 million users in our 30-year history even though through AutoCAD we had one of the most widely used design tools in the world. The growth in this consumer use of design tools is enormous and exploding. So it’s something like the Google Earth. But the fact that you can Google up and look at directions or the fact that you can see this building before you got here today doesn’t make someone necessarily a professional cartographer or a professional civil engineer or a professional photographer. It’s just means you have more information available to you or you have a few more tools to do your work. Similarly, access to design tools doesn’t make someone a professional designer. But we want to give access to design to a much wider set of people because as we have seen with Google, when people have

Autodesk announced job cuts some time back owing to restructuring. How do you see your HR strategy supporting your change in business direction? The big changes that we see in our business are what are going on in the computing world — in terms of cloud, mobile and social. We are big believers that all three trends will have a big impact on the world of design. All our HR efforts are centred on making sure that we have all the skills needed to market and sell these new-generation design tools.

Do you potentially see a conflict between your consumer strategy and your partner network given that Autodesk has been known as a great partner company? Our partners provide tools to professionals. And what they tend to do is build on our platform and add specific knowledge — domain or geographic. It could be something they do around civil infrastructure [at the local level]. That’s where I see our partners contributing. The consumer tools are for the casual user, which taps into the basic human quality of wanting to change your environment — to build or make something. What our partners do — almost every one of them — is dedicated to providing professional tools. It’s far away from the consumer business.

Autodesk has grown significantly despite the economic slowdown. What is your revenue forecast for 2015? We have given a long-term forecast of about 10% growth. This year we will do around

We want to give access to design to a much wider set of people because as we have seen with Google, when people have access to information, amazing things happen.

Geospatial World | April 2013


Corner Office  |  Carl Bass

$2.2 billion in revenues; 99% of that comes from professional segment and 1% from consumers. I don’t think that will change too dramatically going forward; possibly 2 to 3%. Who is your closest competitor in design business? There are a dozen if not hundreds of design companies who all specialise in some or other areas. So on one hand, we have geospatial companies like Esri. They are our part competitors but many of them are also people we cooperate with. We have customers all over the world and they use many tools to get the job done. It is a heterogeneous environment where there are use of these tools for many. So it is very common for somebody to use infrastructure pointing tools from us, GIS tools from Esri and hardware from Trimble. That’s the customer habit worldwide and that’s how we imagine them to be. The fabric of geospatial industry is changing. There is Esri which is into GIS analysis, while there is also Hexagon and Trimble which are using measurement technology in construction and information modelling. In view of the acquisition of SkethchUp by Trimble, how do you see these companies coming into the domain of design solutions? I see companies like Trimble primarily as a hardware provider. I think every hardware company at some point toys around with the idea of software components. They see software as a more profitable business model. Hardware gets into commodity pricing over

We continue to expand into all the emerging markets. That is a big market growing quickly for us as these are the places where people are building and we help people in designing engineering projects.


Geospatial World | April 2013

time. So I think you always see hardware companies getting into software and I don’t think we are seeing anything different in the broadly defined geospatial area. We are interested in infrastructure and the built environment, more than Googling. We are not Google maps. We intend to stick to tools, a complete suite of desktop tools that are used for building almost anything that exists in the world. Inserting geographic information into that process is becoming increasingly important across many of the industries we work in. You have been talking about a technological, cultural and social revolution called infinite computing. How do you think the design industry can leverage the power of infinite computing? Infinite computing is all about computing getting cheaper, more scalable, more powerful and ubiquitous. Computing is becoming virtually free and defining how we approach a problem. From my definition of design, as a both problem-defining and problem-solving technique, even the bare minimum dose of infinite computing allows us to explore alternatives on a computer before we actually commit to a design. So if you want to know how energy-efficient or how sustainable a city is, we do not have to speculate anymore; we can measure these things by building digital prototypes and simulating on a computer. Over the next couple of decades, these tools are going to get more powerful. We can better understand things before building them than we were able to do before. How do you see the future business environment evolving? The big move that we see is the move to cloud and social mobile. The two things we see on the cloud are infinite computing and also the ability to collaborate, coordinate and cooperate in our job. That is an incredibly important aspect in order to make sure jobs are done well and efficiently. The mobile

Data Courtesy of Le Havre

component is huge because most of this work by definition is done on the field. There are devices which make sense [for workers] to be on the field unlike earlier when there was always a limitation on the field. As the projects get more complex, they get more collaborative by nature. And the people you work with on these projects are becoming increasingly important. So we have a lot of social component in terms of how we collaborate and coordinate, and how we work with the people we need to in order to get a job done. We kind of have a unique perspective on this. I think the next half a dozen years are going to be increasingly exciting for the industry. You are going to see some amazing technology from Autodesk that takes advantage of the cloud, mobile and social which will change the way the world designs, builds and manage infrastructure. What are your expansion plans for the emerging markets? We continue to expand into all the emerging markets we have represented. There is a big market growing quickly for us as these are the places where people are building and we help people in designing engineering projects. So we tend to be present wherever there are big buildings and constructions going on. From helping in things like [procuring] natural resources in Russia, to building roads, highways and buildings in China, to the complete infrastructure in Brazil, to delivering clean water in India‌

those are the kind of projects we are involved in. The revenue share from emerging markets like the BRICS is growing about twice as fast as our other business. It is about 10-15% of our revenue at present. How much localisation of technology is required for these markets? A fair amount of it. The first part and possibly the simplest is language — we translate our products into more than 20 languages in over 100 countries. The second part is we have to adapt to local customs, policies and regulations. That is what I think is more important. It is time-consuming and expensive for us but more valuable for the people using it. For example, if you have to conform to the local standards of a highway, you need specific domain knowledge about the roads of that particular country and the rules that have been set there. And that requires a fair amount of work.

If we want to know how sustainable a city is, we can build digital prototypes and simulate on a computer

Some of these countries offer not only a market but also a source for technology. How do you look at a country like India? We are very diverse in terms of our development. Autodesk has more than 25 offices around the world and we are making development across the globe. And we try to tap into the local expertise. Last year we acquired a company in Bangalore [in India] so we now have a number of development centres in the country.  

Geospatial World | April 2013


Cover Story  |  Big Data



analytics The true value of Big Data analytics will be realised only when it acts as the unifying force that will take geospatial from the present state of a collection of building blocks to a self reliant discipline


tructured and unstructured data collected from diverse sources and used as an ensemble to derive information is referred to as Big Data. According to Wikipedia, Big Data consists of data sets that are so big that they cannot be handled efficiently by common database management systems. These data sets can range from tera to petabytes and beyond. In modern interconnected digital world, there are enormous real-time data streams from various sources, located in different servers. Mobile phones, credit cards, RFID devices, chatter on social networks, all create data streams which we may consider as ephemeral but which reside for years in unknown servers. When the occasion arises, these data streams


Geospatial World | April 2013

can be accessed in a coordinated manner and analysed to yield information which would have otherwise remained hidden. For example, analysis of mobile phone records can establish the presence or absence of a person at a particular location. One of the most dramatic illustrations of Big Data and associated analytics is the tracing and capture of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. According to Gartner, data is growing at about 59% a year globally. This growth is characterised by the four ‘V’s: ¼ Volume: The key drivers for the increase in data volumes within enterprise systems are transaction volumes and other traditional data types, as well as new types of data. Volume is

not only a storage issue, but also a massive analysis issue. ¼ Variety: Apart from transactional information, now there are more types of information to analyse — structured and unstructured — mainly coming from social media and context-aware location-based mobile phones, databases, hierarchical data, documents, e-mail, metering data, video, still images, audio, stock ticker data, financial transactions, astronomy, atmospheric sciences, genomics, interdisciplinary scientific research such as biogeochemical research, military surveillance, medical records, and Big Science like the Giant Hadron Collider. ¼ Velocity: This involves creation of and access to streams of data, creation of structured records, and making them available for access and delivery. Velocity thus involves both matching the speed of data production and the speed of data processing to meet demand. ¼ Veracity: Professional managers are wary of unverified data. Since much of the data deluge comes from anonymous and unverified sources, it is necessary to establish and flag the quality of the data before it is included in any ensemble. Geospatial Big Data sources With the advent of satellite remote sensing, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), aerial surveys using photographic cameras, digital cameras, sensor networks, radar and LiDAR, the volume of geospatial data has grown exponentially with data production crossing storage capacity in 2007 itself. To these conventional sources add the unconventional sources like location-aware devices and you have a huge data stream. In its report on Big Data, McKinsey Global Institute estimates that location data level stood at 1 petabyte in 2009 and had a growth rate of 20% a year. This did not include data from RFID sensors. It also does not include ‘dark data’, that is, data collected by researchers and lying in private archives. The UN-GGIM estimates that of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day, a significant portion of the data is location aware. However, it would be wrong to create bins for geospatial Big Data and other Big Data.

The key to Big Data is the need to look at all data in ensembles specific to applications. Thus, according to Prof Shashi Shekhar of the University of Minnesota, Big Data also includes data-intensive computing, middleware, analytics and scientific and social applications. In fact, the current trend of interconnecting different data sources through the Web will ultimately give rise to the Internet of Things where every source will have its own Uniform Resource Identifier and geospatial data will become omnipresent. There will be over 50 billion such resources by 2020. Management of Big Data The main problem with Big Data is that all data has become persistent. Data is duplicated and we create data pyramids for transmission ease. Further, there is a need to create and preserve the metadata, which in itself becomes a big task. Storage has become cheap but is unable to linearly scale up because of the growing volume of data. The immediate solutions are lossless data compression and abstraction of highresolution data; ways of compounding related geospatial data sets and eliminating duplication. Another solution is linked to data over the Web which consists of tuples of data sets which are contextualised, thereby adding value to the individual data sets. The UN-GGIM has identified that techniques such as graphical processing units (GPU), parallel processing and databases like NoSQL (Not only SQL) will help to analyse Big Data in seconds instead of hours. Big Data streams are fast, typically 10-100 times faster than transactional data. In such situations it is difficult if not impossible to analyse data in real time with SQL. NoSQL essentially works to bring SQL interfaces to the runtime, thus probably eliminating the need for data warehouses; it does not mean

The main problem with Big Data is that all data has become persistent. Data is duplicated and we create data pyramids for transmission ease Geospatial World | April 2013


Cover Story  |  Big Data

that SQL and data warehouses will go away. According to IBM, data warehouses will still be around to store pre-processed data which is of high quality and has a broad purpose. On the other hand, Big Data repositories do not undergo such rigorous pre-processing and the stress is more on discovery rather than value. Repositories may also have different characteristics, some may stress atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability (ACID) while others may be more relaxed and operate on basic availability, soft state and eventually consistent (BASE) basis. In this situation, Apache’s Hadoop suite of programmes provides an Open Source answer to handling of Big Data. Hadoop works in a


Visualisation & discovery


Systems management

Analytics accelerators



Hadoop system


Application development


Stream computing

Data warehouse appliance

Information integration & governance

IBM Big Data Platform (Source: Harness Paul C. Zikopoulos et. Al., McGraw Hill, 2013)






Oracle Big Data Solution (Source: Oracle: Big Data for the Enterprise White Paper January 2012)


Geospatial World | April 2013

batch processing mode and holds data till its utility is established through analytics. Such data can then be migrated to the warehouse. Hadoop can also act as an archiving service that moves archive-ready ‘old’ data from the warehouse to lower cost storage systems. Thus, traditional engines and the new data processing engines will continue to be needed. It is not a warehouse versus Hadoop or SQL versus NoSQL but both. Both IBM and Oracle have proprietary solutions built on Hadoop and NoSQL. Both systems use hardware and software solutions. The difference lies in the way they handle geospatial data. Oracle uses its geospatially enabled database while IBM makes geospatial analytics a part of its Netezza In-Database Analytics. While Hadoop is one solution there are other proprietary systems like Teradata which includes geospatial data handling in native formats. As in any typical Big Data application workflow, the Oracle Big Data Appliance (BDA) is used for filtering, transformation, extraction and other pre-processing operations on geospatial data, including raster imagery. High-volume, high-velocity data coming in from multiple sources such as sensors, satellites, mobile mapping, and location feeds from mobile devices, can be aggregated in the Oracle Big Data Appliance and processed to identify relevant high-value data. The Big Data Appliance is ideal for processing raw imagery and even applying specialised image processing like feature identification and tagging. This processed, transformed, highvalue data can be accessed directly from the BDA or integrated with other spatial data in a spatial database. Oracle provides high-speed Oracle Big Data Connectors that facilitates the transfer of data between the BDA and spatial database. Grid and Cloud will play important parts in Big Data both in terms of providing the distributed platforms for data and analytics. Steven VanRoekel, US Chief Information Officer, says the combined initiatives to open up federal data, along with cloud computing, have the potential to create entire new industries. On the business front too there

How big is

Big Data analytics The key to Big Data is analytics. In a normal geospatial data setup, the analysis is a set of programmes, built in or written by a programmer which operates on a structured data set. What sets apart Big Data analytics is the need to analyse in addition unstructured and structured data streams in real time. These data streams can be 10 to 100 times the speed of transactional data. In geospatial context, these could be sensor data as well as field reports emanating from a disaster area or a battlefield. Geospatial Big data analytics has been around for many years without it being termed as such. As an example, VanRoekel cites the opening up of geographic positioning systems data in the mid 1980s, which now is embedded in a range of

1 Petabyte 2.5 235

Location data level in 2009, not including data from RFID sensors & ‘dark data’

quintillion bytes data generated every day, estimates UN-GGIM terabytes data collected by the US Library of Congress by April 2011

140K–190K 1.5 million 20%

The growth in location data levels per year

more deep analytical talent positions, & more data-savvy managers needed to take full advantage of big data in the us


projected growth in global data generated per year against 5% growth in global IT spending

Data source: McKinsey Global Institute

is considerable interest in Big Data in the Cloud. While some analysts opine that Big Data Analytics is ideally suited for the Cloud, others feel that the kind of load put on data storage by, say a Hadoop Cluster, would stress the performance of the storage infrastructure. There is a need to tweak Cloud architecture to improve the capacity, performance and agility of all Cloud services to provide better support for Big Data in the Cloud. An example of such an integrated system combining advanced analytics and data storage in a Cloud infrastructure for geospatial intelligence analysts is the analytic Cloudbased system integrating NetApp data storage technology that is useful for both geospatial and analytic workloads and Data Tactic Corp’s expertise in data architecture and management, which provides advanced analytics tools for data extraction, resolution and link analysis as well as artifact-based search and geospatial capabilities. Another example is an integrated system for government agencies that need to capture, store, process and distribute massive volumes of intelligence and surveillance sensor data consisting of DataDirect Networks’ Web Object Scaler Cloud storage appliance integrated with YottaStor’s mobile computing and Big Data storage system called YottaDrive.

Big data

How big ARE THE

benefits?  $149 billion

possible savings by governments in European economies using Big Data

€250 billion 

potential annual value to Europe’s public sector administration

 50%

decrease in product development, assembly costs for the manufacturing sector

$300 billion 

potential annual value to US health care

 $100 billion

Global personal data location data, plus revenue for service providers

$600 billion 

potential annual consumer surplus from using personal location data globally

 60%

potential increase in retailers’ operating margins with big data

Geospatial World World | April April 2013 Geospatial


Cover Story  |  Big Data

commercial applications. “As a free open data stream, we almost overnight created $100 billion in value to the marketplace,” he says. He also noted how the US Weather Service, first launched in the Smithsonian Institute, provided an Open Source approach to collection and reporting of weather data from across the country — another amazing “big data stream.” Carson J.Q. Farmer et al in the proceedings of GIScience in Big Data Age writes that geospatial analytics in big data requires “new approaches that are flexible, non-parametric, computationally efficient and able to provide interpretable results for modelling dynamic and non-linear processes in data This is what a combination of NoSQL and Hadoop can do, as illustrated by the IBM model of the Netezza analytics platform and Oracle’s Integrated Software Solutions Stack.

Oracle Integrate Software Solution Stack 32

Geospatial World | April 2013

rich situations”. Till now geospatial Big Data analytics has focussed on data visualisation and descriptive analysis. GIScience needs to move away from this approach and move on to a model-centric approach, which stresses the underlying spatial processes rather than addressing the data bottleneck. According to IDC, storage capabilities have been surpassed by data stream volumes as early as 2007 and there is no way this can be bridged. The need is for runtime stream data analysis. The focus therefore shifts from the database to a model dictionary that is applied to streaming data to detect the states of the environment to highlight normal and abnormal conditions. Stream processing can be used to tune model parameters and to store useful data samples. Compute intensive operations such as image processing of high resolution satellite imagery can be performed in parallel on the Oracle Big Data Appliance. Multiple systems can be cabled together for very large Hadoop clusters for processing massive numbers of images in parallel. The high-speed connection between Oracle Big Data Appliance and Oracle Exadata (via infiniBand) enables geospatial applications to use the appropriate platform (batch processing and preprocessing vs. transactional) for a given task. Another common use case is extraction of location-related semantics from unstructured documents. Many types of social media are highly unstructured and riddled with ambiguous terms. Nevertheless, it commonly refers to important concepts like names, places, times, etc. While human readers might be able to infer and reconcile these ambiguities, machines cannot — at least not without some form of pre-processing. Applying natural language processing (NLP) on unstructured media enables developers to generate semantic indexes of terms from these sources. This “structuring” process reduces the ambiguity of social media and enables linking with more conventional structured relational content commonly found in spatial databases and GIS. This type of social media analysis is now becoming common place, and is increasingly referred to as “social media analytics” or Big

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Cover Story  |  Big Data

How The Climate Corporation is using Big Data

Rails front


Pricing server (Java) Sim gen (casca log) S3

Soil moisture dataset gen (cascalog)

Marty (HBase) Geo data store

Other Hadoop jobs Structured gen cascalog

■ 2011– today ■ 1,000,000 locations ■ Own big geo data store ■ Many more Hadoop jobs ■ Eliminated simple DB Source: The Climate Corporation

Data analytics and is one of the more exciting aspects of geospatial computing. Big Data use cases ¼ The Climate Corporation, an insurance company, is using Big Data to deal with the planet’s toughest challenge: analysing the weather’s complex and multi-layered behaviour to help the world’s farmers adapt to climate change. By combining modern Big Data techniques, climatology and agronomics, The Climate Corporation protects the $3-trillion global agriculture industry with automated hyper-local weather insurance. The data is primarily georeferenced time series data and the company uses its proprietary geo-data store, called Marty. This is built on HBase and provides a couple of abstractions: geo-indexing and querying of data using R trees, and generic 34

Geospatial World | April 2013

JSON document storage and indexing. The data process is depicted in the diagram on left. ¼ McLaren’s Formula One racing team uses Big Data to identify issues with its racing cars using predictive analytics and takes corrective actions pro-actively before it’s too late. The team spends 5% of its budget on telemetry. Its modern F1 car is fitted with about 130 sensors. In addition to the engine sensors, video and GPS is used to work out the best line to take through each bend. Their cars generate gigabits of data every weekend, which is analysed in real time to make decisions. The sensor data is helping in traffic smoothing, energy-optimising analysis and driver’s direction determination. McLaren’s proprietary software analyse all sensor data and helps the team cut costs and enables the governing body — the FIA — to more easily detect banned devices. For example, new Pirelli tyres this year meant teams had to watch for tyre wear, grip, temperature under different weather conditions and tracks, relating all that to driver acceleration, braking and steering. ¼ Working with IBM, Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) is implementing a big data solution that is significantly reducing data processing time and helping staff more quickly and accurately predict weather patterns at potential sites to increase turbine energy production. Data currently stored in its wind library comprises nearly 2.8 petabytes and includes more than 178 parameters, such as temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation, wind direction and wind velocity from the ground level up to 300 feet, along with the company’s own recorded historical data. Future additions for use in predictions include global deforestation metrics, satellite images, historical metrics, geospatial data and data on phases of the moon and tides. The IBM InfoSphere BigInsights software running on an IBM System x iDataPlex system serves as the core infrastructure to help Vestas manage and analyse weather and location data in ways that were not previously possible. For

example, the company can reduce the base resolution of its wind data grids from a 27x27 kilometer area down to a 3x3 kilometer area — a nearly 90% reduction that gives executives more immediate insight into potential locations. ¼ US Xpress, provider of a wide variety of transportation solutions, collects about a thousand data elements ranging from fuel usage to tyre condition to truck engine operations to GPS information, and uses this for optimal fleet management and to drive productivity, saving millions of dollars in operating costs. US Xpress is using several Informatica tools, including IDQ for data quality; PowerExchange, which talks to its AS/400 systems; and CPE for real-time data monitoring, among others. When an order is dispatched, it is tracked using an in-cab system installed on a DriverTech tablet. US Xpress constantly connects to the devices to monitor progress of the lorry. The video camera on the device could be used to check if the driver is nodding off. There is also a speech recognition capability, which is more intuitive and easier to use for the driver, compared to the tablet’s touch UI. All the data collected from the DriverTech system is analysed in real time at the US Xpress operations centre. This is achieved by using geospatial data, integrated with driver data and truck telematics. By using this information, operations can minimise delays and ensure trucks are not left waiting when they arrive at a depot for maintenance. ¼ With an aim to bring the world to the third phase of mobility, Nokia needed to find a technology solution that would support the collection, storage and analysis of virtually unlimited data types and volumes. Effective collection and use of data has become central to Nokia’s ability to understand and improve user experiences with phones and other location products. The company leverages data processing and complex analyses in order to build maps with predictive traffic and layered elevation models, to source information about points of interest around the world, to understand the quality of

phones and more. To grow and support its extensive use of Big Data, Nokia relies on a technology ecosystem that includes a Teradata enterprise data warehouse (EDW), numerous Oracle and MySQL data marts, visualisation technologies, and at its core: Hadoop. Nokia has over 100 terabytes of structured data on Teradata and petabytes of multi-structured data on the Hadoop Distributed File System. Because Hadoop uses commodity hardware, the cost per terabyte of storage is on an average 10 times cheaper than a traditional relational data warehouse system. Business opportunities Big Data analytics is an attractive field. According to analysts Big Data market is expected to reach $48.3 billion by 2018. As the ‘use cases’ show, it can range over a wide area of applications. There are very good commercial and Open Source tools available as well as opportunities to develop new tools specific to applications. This is an opportunity for software developers. However, the real challenge is in concentrating on higher level problems and developing integrated solutions to provide intelligence required by different domains. Capacity requirements Effective use of Big Data will need geospatial analysts of a different kind. They can be mathematicians, computer programmers, geographers, engineers, social scientists or business managers with ability to ‘think out of the box’ and look at processes like spatial interactions, spatial behaviour and spatial diffusion along with traditional geospatial techniques and create models which can work on streaming and static Big Data. These capabilities cannot be taught in

Big Data analytics is an attractive field – the Big Data market is expected to reach $48.3 billion by 2018. There are very good commercial and Open Source tools available as well as opportunities to develop new tools specific to applications Geospatial World | April 2013


Cover Story  |  Big Data

Moving towards productivity

Source: Big Data in GIScience Feb 3, 2012

classrooms but need to be encouraged through real life practices. Research areas Dawn Wright, Esri’s Chief Scientist, had this takeaway from GIScience 2012: “Academics tend to think in terms of questions. Among the many questions they seem very interested in at the moment are: ¼ What new fundamental problems does big data pose to GIScience? ¼ How can we best foster and synergise research on big data across pertinent research communities? ¼ What are the significant kinds of big data from a spatial perspective? Why do they matter? ¼ What are the challenging issues of modeling uncertainty in big data? ¼ How can we best prepare students in the use, development of, and analysis of big data? In response to these and other questions, a number of research areas are being pursued, including: ¼ Most GIScience algorithms need to be rewritten to fit the new infrastructure of Big Data. ¼ Various communities — such as the machine learning and complex process modelling 36

Geospatial World | April 2013

communities — need to talk to each other and work together. ¼ We have succeeded in getting metadata to talk to data. We now need models talking to data, models talking to other models, and models talking to us via effective workflows. The Panel on Big Data in GIScience held earlier at UCSB on February 2012 also identified the following research areas: ¼ Semantic approaches to support machine processing of data ¼ Big Data knowledge extraction through ontology mapping ¼ Integrating data across vocabularies ¼ Mining data to discover rules about the data that can then be implemented in computational systems GIScience research has to move beyond data storage, handling and mining issues and concentrate on modelling to understand the underlying spatial processes, particularly dynamic spatial processes. The future Big Data is no stranger to the geospatial world; only it is known by several names. Perhaps Big Data is a way of defining a paradigm shift to a data-intensive collaboration where processes reinforce traditional database approaches. There is a considerable amount of hype which will ultimately lead to a degree of disillusionment. Then the hard work will follow before the true value of Big Data analytics is realised. Ultimately Big Data will act as the unifying force which will take geospatial from the present state of a collection of building blocks to a self-reliant discipline.   Prof. Arup Dasgupta, Managing Editor (The author is grateful to Sunil M.K., Head of AEC Division India, Autodesk; Xavier Lopez, Director of Oracle’s Spatial, Location and Network technologies group, Hiren Bhatt, his old student and now friend, and colleague Anand Kashyap for providing valuable inputs to this article.)

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Geospatial World | April 2013


Geospatial World | April 2013



A cloud-based approach allows for

leaner, cleaner workflows

With consumers increasingly looking for intelligent applications, and not raw geospatial data, integration of various geospatial technologies is fast becoming a trend, believes Jeff Allen, General Manager, Geospatial eXploitation Products, BAE Systems


Geospatial World | April 2013

What are the current technology trends in integration of multiple geospatial capabilities? A major emphasis for integration is to introduce greater photogrammetic rigour (vice ‘Mashup Mentality’) into the processing of geospatial data. The capabilities being integrated should be at the same maturity level of rigour. You would want to avoid passing data from a very mature service to a beta-release open source service whose maturity is questionable at best, with the potential to break the chain of rigorous photogrammetric processing. We see a movement to avoid creating stove-pipe integrations on local ISP resources and instead migrate the common geospatial data and services to a cloud-based architecture accessible via open, cloud-friendly geospatial standards. As more geospatial capabilities are made available via the cloud, consumer organisations can acquire only those services and data they need to build the workflows to provide the geospatial information/knowledge they require. Further, as an organisation’s needs and requirements change, they are able to modify existing workflows or create new workflows — again procuring only the data and services that are actually required. Raw geospatial data, such as LiDAR and EO imagery, is not what most organisations want when they procure geospatial data and services; instead they are looking for answers to questions that require intelligent application of these. For example, cellular service providers do not want to procure and

process LiDAR and terrain elevation data. They want answers to questions such as “what are the best locations to place cell towers in the northcentral suburban region of the city of Mumbai in India to provide the best coverage with the least overall cost?” This points to a need to develop cloud-based, geospatially aware Semantic Web capabilities that would answer these ‘geospatial knowledge’ questions. Cloud-based geospatial capabilities would enable organisations to create multi-tiered integrated workflows to populate Semantic Web repositories based on their specific problem spaces — again only procuring what is specifically needed. Is there a need to merge the full spectrum of mapping, remote sensing and analysis capabilities? A major concern is that what is merged becomes yet another stove-pipe system that is not flexible and is expensive to modify or expand as an organisation’s needs change. A cloud-based approach allows for leaner, cleaner workflows to answer geospatial-based questions. What are the ongoing trends in effective data management across sensors inputs/ databases to support effective integration? Effective sensor inputs/data management can only be affected well when all data and services have open, standards-based mature metadata. Metadata population is both a blessing and a curse. Metadata aids greatly in forensic analysis when a significant problem is found with the geospatial data. However, it is often extremely difficult to collect as the most important metadata must be physically entered by operators. All of this calls for the geospatial community to adapt and adhere to a metadata model that not only captures metadata about the data but also, and perhaps more importantly, adopt processes that modify or create data. The community then needs to develop and publish a set of ‘best practices’ for metadata collection that all members are expected to follow for maximum efficiency and interoperability. This should further encourage application and service providers to make

metadata collection and update more automated to reduce operator involvement. What are the benefits of simplified workflows? The first and foremost is the lower per unit cost. Training curves this way are much flatter, thus allowing data providers to relax the skillset requirements of operators, giving them much more staffing flexibility. For instance, instead of having a large number of college- and graduatelevel operators collecting and processing data, less expensive high school graduates (with training) could perform the basic tasks. This would enable the higher skillset operators to become team leads for the lower skilled operators. Secondly, increased automation in the workflow will change the role of the operator during production. Operators will review results and only extract or edit data where automation is not mature enough. When properly applied, automation can lead to even greater efficiency. With less interaction required on wellestablished production processes, operators can develop new workflows for new products that will be operator-intensive and evolve into something much more automated. What are the other future trends, for example, compatibility with other software and hardware systems? Cross-platform, and cross-application compatibility and interoperability are the

Terrestrial LiDAR of Vaughan Mills Mall, Ontario, colour-coded by elevation in the SOCET GXP 3D Multiport. Data courtesy Optech

Geospatial World | April 2013



Top: Interactive point measurement allows the review and measurement of tie and control points on separate image panels. Image courtesy NOAA/NGS Bottom: ABI system events in SOCET GXP using Web services. Image courtesy DigitalGlobe

desirable goals with two basic ways to address the issues: the use of open, standards-based (for data and interfaces) solutions (e.g., OGC/ISO) and proprietary/bespoke solutions. Open standards-based solutions have a number of advantages. Vendors develop and optimise their own internal solutions with the realisation that they only need to adhere to open standards while interfacing

The need is to develop cloud-based, geospatially aware Semantic Web capabilities that would answer ‘geospatial knowledge’ questions of organisations


Geospatial World | April 2013

with other applications and services. Vendors are able to update or replace their algorithms and processing without having to worry about how it will affect users of their capabilities, or when they consume data and services themselves. Vendors only have to address changes to their external interfaces as open standards evolve over time. When new open standard data types are available, vendors have the options to update both their internal processing to leverage the new data, and enhance their external interfaces to accommodate the new data type. Bespoke solutions may benefit consumers in some cases where standards do not yet exist or in cases of unique requirements such as highperformance or high-security. 

Geospatial World | April 2013


Feature  |  Geodesign

Designing our future Bringing together design professions, technology, geographic sciences and ‘people of the place’, geodesign, or design in a geographic space, is fast evolving as an answer to many of our pressing problems


lobal population growth and climate change are driving search for new tools. With these twin challenges touching every aspect of our everyday lives – from food security to urban planning, sustainability to industrialisation – it is not surprising that they underpin explicitly or implicitly any study, research


Geospatial World | April 2013

or meet on development, and weigh heavily on government programmes across the world. The good news is that information technology has evolved so rapidly that we are on the brink of being able to model the entire earth by creating a living atlas of the planet. Geodesign has the potential to be one of these tools.

The still-evolving domain has come a long way since the first Geodesign Summit was organised four years ago. As Tom Fisher, emcee and moderator of this year’s Geodesign Summit, pointed out, the domain has since inspired four books, 75 papers last year, two university programmes including a masters degree programme, and one article in Scientific American. Significantly, Google search results on the word ‘geodesign’, which returned only 400 items four years ago, has gone up to half a million. What is geodesign ? Geodesign is an invented word. The first use of the word has been traced to 1993, but it was picked up by Esri in 2005. While there have been attempts to define it as “Geodesign makes design decisions data rich” or “Geodesign takes GIS analysis into the future”, there exists enough ambiguity about the word, for experts still feel impelled to provide a definition. Here is a look at some of them.   Geodesign is a method which tightly couples the creation of design proposals with impact simulations informed by geographic contexts and systems thinking and (normally) supported by digital technology. (Dr Michael Flaxman, Assistant Professor in the Urban Information Systems Group of MIT’s Department of Planning, amended by Stephen Ervin, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design)   Geodesign is design in a geographic space. (Bill Miller, Director of Esri’s Geodesign Services Group)   Geodesign is a vision for using geographic knowledge to actively and thoughtfully design. (Jack Dangermond, President, Esri) Perhaps the most comprehensive definition is from Carl Steinitz, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning (Emeritus), Harvard School of Design. “Geodesign changes geography by design... It is clear that for serious societal and environmental issues, designing for change cannot be a solitary activity. Rather, it is inevitably a collaborative endeavour, with participants from various design professions and geographic sciences,

linked by technology from several locations for rapid communication and feedback and reliant on transparent communication with the people of the place who are also direct participants.” Steinitz’s perspective is that geodesign involves bringing together the design professions (architecture and engineering), technology, geographic sciences and what he calls the “people of the place”, people who are going to live in the result of a “geodesigned” environment. A major challenge arises from scale. While scientists have a universal and global perspective, designers have a local view of things, often at the level of one building or one parcel. Steinitz makes the case that the most important thing that anyone involved in geodesign needs to master is how to collaborate in a multidisciplinary project environment involving architects, engineers, IT professionals and people from the geographicallyoriented sciences. For instance, Michael Batty of University College London has come up with a mathematical model for collaborative consensus building which relies on an agent-based approach to simulate a collaborative process in which multiple stakeholders (city government, residents, property owners, property speculators and banks) come to a consensus on changes in land use. Batty gives an example in downtown London involving eight parcels of land and six stakeholders to illustrate how the process identifies properties (in this case a very underutilised piece of property in the heart of London) that are most likely to be subject to land use change and which stakeholders (speculators and developers in this case) are most interested in land use change.

Geodesign is a vision for using geographic knowledge to actively and thoughtfully design Jack Dangermond, President, Esri

Why geodesign? Development conferences or studies are usually marked by a pervasive sense that the planet is on

Geodesign is an invented word. While there have been many attempts to define it, there exists enough ambiguity about the word, for experts still feel impelled to provide a definition Geospatial World | April 2013


Feature  |  Geodesign

There is an immediate requirement to significantly and urgently change the way our built environment is managed David Bartlett, Vice President , IBM Smarter Buildings

will monitor building performance (including that of the White House) and feed information into a central building management dashboard. Better analytics is expected to help the government in automating building controls, which in turn will help property managers to take more active control over building performance. It is estimated that this initial project alone will save approximately $15 million in operational costs annually. This approach can be applied not just to individual buildings, but to entire communities. The City of Boston, Boston University and IBM are collaborating on a sustainable neighbourhood project.

the brink and there is an urgent need for change, and if we don’t, the implications will be dire. Dangermond outlines a vision of what he calls a living atlas, a smart 3D model of the world that would be transactional, so it can incorporate changes, either naturally induced or man-made in near real-time and allow us to analyse and simulate alternative designs, especially from a sustainability perspective. David Bartlett, who leads IBM’s Smarter Buildings initiative, believes that there is an “immediate requirement to significantly and urgently change the way our built environment is managed.” He is very sanguine about the capacity of our rapidly evolving IT technology to enable us to do this. With the ‘Internet of Things’ approaching a trillion objects, unlimited processing power and cloud technology, and big data enabling real-time analytics, we are rapidly approaching having enough computing capacity to capture digitally, visualise and model our entire built environment. IBM’s Smarter Buildings initiative is aimed at helping to make this happen. Given that 42% of the world’s energy goes into buildings, we know where Bartlett is coming from. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is an imperative for a sustainable future. The US General Services Administration (GSA) has contracted IBM to create a cloud-based centralised system that

With the population growth creating pressure on our cities, geodesign is fast evolving as an answer

Courtesy: IBM


Geospatial World | April 2013

A new urban aesthetic Frederick Steiner, Dean of Architecture at the University of Texas Austin, makes the case that a new aesthetic for cities is evolving. His examples illustrating this trend include Bushwick in Brooklyn, an area shunned by taxis till a few years ago but now the Haight-Ashbury of the 2010s; the Chicago Lakefront; Highline Park in New York; the Cheonggyecheon Linear Park in Seoul; the proposal for a linear park in Mexico City in place of a highway; the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn; and the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle. Steiner is of the view that how we view urban space is changing, and the emerging aesthetic is fundamentally linked to geography. In the past, architects designed in an abstract space, but now they need to start using geographic tools. Geographic overlay maps were not invented by Ian McHarg, founder of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, but were popularised by him within the architectural profession. (McHarg’s book Design with Nature, published in 1969, pioneered ecological planning). Some of the tools used by McHarg that can be classified as geodesign include overlay maps, transects, diagrams, drawings, bird’s eye perspective, photography and block diagrams. The areas where Steiner foresees that geodesign can contribute to the new urban aesthetic includes ecosystem services, helping designers move from sustainable development to regenerative design and designing for extreme weather events, which are becoming more prevalent because of climate

So how do we make a city that feels good? According to Bran Ferren, co-founder of Applied Minds, there are three types of design -- realitybased, fantasy-based and bad design. Ferren feels the last is by far the most prevalent type of design in our cities. The challenge for designers is to convey a compelling story of why and how we need to change the aesthetic. Ferren sees this as where geodesign, by combining the location of everything with a visualisation of what it could be, should play a key role. Geodesign: Cases in point To understand what geodesign means in practice, the best way is to look at specific projects. Crowdsourcing green at the Los Angeles Unified School District IBM has found that educational institutions and defence departments are the most receptive to the Smarter Planet vision and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) provides an interesting example. LAUSD has 700,000 students, making it the second largest school district in the country. LAUSD decided that it wanted to be the greenest school district in the US, but had no budget for such an aggressive initiative. But what they did have was a lot of students with mobile phones. Students, teachers and staff became part of the solution. A mobile app developed by an IBM partner was installed on cellphones of all students which made them green monitors and reporters. Students identified maintenance issues such as leaky faucets and broken air conditioning units and sent text messages and photos through their mobile phones to a GIS, which added location. Gamification was used to encourage competition, for example, to be the best green reporter. Within the first eight months of implementing the programme, LAUSD responded to more than 750 maintenance requests reported by students. As a result, things are getting fixed, and students and others have become active participants in the programme to make the schools greener. According to IBM, a total of six school districts

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

change and our growing population.

Demolition of an elevated freeway and uncovering a section of the Cheonggyecheon Stream has led to ecological and recreational opportunities in the centre of Seoul

are participating in the Smarter Planet programme. When dealing with entire communities, it is necessary to worry not only about enabling technology, but also about how to motivate change. Bartlett has discovered that one of the most important tools in motivating change is transparency. And when combined with gamification, it becomes even more powerful in overcoming institutionalised inefficiencies -- the “we have always done it this way� attitude.

IBM has developed a mobile reporting and analytics solution for the Los Angeles Unified School District to automatically identify facility-related problems

Yellowstone, the first benchmark ecosystem In the medical profession, there are reference standards for things like blood cholesterol level, blood pressure and heart rate that define what is normal or acceptable and allow us to identify extreme values that may be symptomatic of a problem. Jen Sheldon is an ecologist who has spent a lot of time in Yellowstone National Park and her idea was to develop benchmark metrics for ecological systems using an intact ecological system like Yellowstone as a reference standard. Animals are good proxies for the health of ecosystems because being at the top of the food chain, they concentrate information about their particular ecosystems. Sheldon used antelope densities and modelled the ecosystem with Geospatial World | April 2013


Feature  |  Geodesign

different development plans on connectivity between the two parks.

Courtesy: Esri

Geodesign in land use. Geodesign brings people together so that participants from different backgrounds and points of view can run what-if scenarios based on their assumptions and assess the consequences of those assumptions

a stack of layers. This model can quantify the impact of any development activity in an area, for instance constructing a road, on the health of the ecosystem. Wildlife connectivity analysis Ryan Perkl of the University of Arizona has generated a “last of the wild” map, or landscape integrity model, for the State of Arizona which identifies areas that have remained relatively undisturbed by human development. Perkl then conducted a connectivity analysis to create a “wild ways” map showing corridors linking the undisturbed areas, which can identify areas of high connectivity importance. For example, there are two national parks near Tucson. The connectivity map can determine probable routes the wildlife might use for moving from one to the other. This enabled authorities to identify areas where further development would seriously affect connectivity between the two parks and to simulate the impacts of 48

Geospatial World | April 2013

A new innovative planning protocol that incentivises conservation Al Reynolds presents a new and innovative scheme for Rural Land Stewardship (RLS) that challenges the traditional paradigms of regulation (e.g. zoning) or land acquisition (e.g. Nature Conservancy) by incentivising the protection of the habitat without public funding or regulation. Rural land stewardship is a private/public process based on scientific data and market-driven incentivisation. The currency in this programme is a stewardship credit, which is calculated using a multilayer natural resource index system that gives a higher score for land that is ecologically good for endangered species. In the past, the presence of endangered species reduced the value of land. RLS reverses this trend: land is more valuable if it hosts or provides good habitat for endangered species. Endangered species become an asset instead of a liability. An area where this approach has been applied is in southwest Florida. Several years ago, the Florida 2060 Project attempted to project a picture of what the state would look like in 2060 based on current trends. This particular part of Florida was projected to be overrun by urban sprawl with almost 70% of the study area developed by 2060. A new town called Ave Maria, home to 5,000 people, was developed in the area under the RLS programme. Ave Maria turned out to be one-tenth in size of a traditional town with a similar population. In addition to reducing urban sprawl, the RLS programme protected several panther corridors. Based on this experience, Reynolds argues that traditional zoning doesn’t make sense in the modern world and that we need to replace regulatory regimes like zoning with processes like the RLS programme that are based on scientific data and market-driven incentives. Creating a 3D digital model of the entire LA community college system Michael Rendler is the Director of e7 Architecture Studio which is a non-profit organisation working

with the Los Angeles Community College District. LACCD is the largest community college district in the United States and serves more than 250,000 students annually at nine colleges in the greater Los Angeles area (See interview on Page 38). With the goal to become one of the greenest community college districts in the US, LACCD initiated a project nine years ago to create a model of all the buildings and infrastructure on its campuses to facilitate sustainability analyses. The models, created by LACCD students, adopted standards wherever possible to ensure a uniform representation. The buildings were captured as georeferenced BIM models and stored in and served from a geospatial database (Oracle Spatial). Real world coordinates enabled the model to be easily integrated with geospatial data from a variety of sources and to be used for a variety of purposes including visualisation, energy performance modelling and predictive maintenance. Modeling an entire city Sheyla Santana is the executive director of Geoconsulting, a training and consultancy company in geotechnology in Brazil. Santana is also part of a geospatial group called GeoproEA at the School of Architecture at the Federal University of Minas Gerais which is creating an intelligent digital model of the entire city of Belo Horizonte, a city with a population of about 2.5 million. The city model includes both buildings

Intelligent digital model of the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, developed by GeoproEA

The need of the hour is developing converged solutions involving GIS, BIM, 3D visualisation, and analytics and simulation

and infrastructure. While the buildings are captured as 3D BIM models, the infrastructure data, including electric power, water and sewer, telecommunications, transportation and public services comes from a unified infrastructure database in the state of Minas Gerais. Initially, the model will be used for energy performance analysis, but the long-term vision is to enable a data-driven planning process for the city. For example, to be able to assess densification options from a serviceability perspective, planners need to know if an area is zoned highrise residential, if the existing transportation, electric power, water and sewer infrastructure is adequate or needs expansion and if so by how much and at what cost. Conclusion As population growth and climate change drive a search for new tools, geodesign is fast evolving as an answer to many of our pressing problems. With technology on the brink of creating a living atlas of the planet, and analytics and simulation technology already being used to intelligently model different aspects of our world ranging from undisturbed natural environments to neighbourhoods to cities, the need of the hour is developing converged solutions involving GIS, BIM, 3D visualisation and animation. Today’s technology makes all this possible. Current applications include emergency management, sustainability analysis and facilities management. But it is not hard to imagine many other areas where geodesign based on intelligent digital models will play an increasingly essential role in enabling us to manage our built environment more sustainably.   Geoff Zeiss, Editor- Buildings & Energy Geospatial World | April 2013


Geodesign  |  Interview

‘People see our work as


we call it social equity’

e7 Architecture Studio has designed a programme for the Los Angeles Community College District in the US which enabled the local students to develop a model of all the buildings, transportation and utility infrastructure, to support sustainability planning. However, the project goes beyond sustainability, says e7 Director Michael Rendler, who feels it is all about strategic decision making, social equity and empowering students to take ownership of the society Y ou are developing BIM models of all buildings on the nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College District. You have said the primary motive behind developing these energy performance modelling is the LACCD’s goal to become the greenest community college district in the US. Can you elaborate on it? It is a little bigger than just sustainability, which in itself is a big word. It [what we are doing] is really understanding the total lifecycle of how an education institution works, so that we can make strategic decisions about bringing either grant work into the colleges in partnerships with businesses or creating other education opportunities for the student population. Some people understand that as the next generation of sustainability. We call it social equity. The area where we don’t get any argument is the immediate return on investment on the energy management side. But I think there is a larger vision, given that these colleges are the economic centres in Los Angeles and their role and responsibility is to their student constituents, to provide


Geospatial World | April 2013

them opportunities for student success. This is part of our vision of having a comprehensive model. This can be further connected to other geospatial datasets in the city that are interoperable with it. So the big picture is not just about the sustainability of the buildings on your campus, but about how you can implement what you call social equity? Right. There is a reciprocal relationship to that. We asked what the future of Los Angeles was and how the colleges were going to contribute to that future. If we need to add new curriculum, new laboratories or new grant opportunities at a college, what are the implications of that? Complete virtualisation of the campuses enables quick assessment of the implications of the above for resource requirements. Then we can build that into the grant proposal. If we are going to undertake a project with the departments of energy, health or emergency management, we will know the exact location of our resources and the facilities available to implement the projects.

We said that geospatial technology was an automatic fit here. Was it as a geospatial repository or was there a vision of a virtual city for LA? We see our model as a comprehensive geospatial model that includes visualisation. And that’s what we took to A lot of times when you hear geospatial, you hear just topology, point, line, and polygon. It’s diagrammatic. But our vision was that it has to have full fidelity and one model. To do this, we developed cinematic capability based on spatial relationships and that took us into this whole other realm of visualisations and animations. All that data is georeferenced BIM models so that you can migrate and associate that to the more generally understood geospatial topology model.

LACCD is the largest community college district in the US, so there are a lot of eyes on this concept. People are saying that if we are able to do this in Los Angeles — the epicentre of design, advertising, entertainment, manufacturing, defence and all such sectors — then the concept can be applied to other cities and be a model for how education can really serve that local community. When did this concept originate? Marcela Oliva and I started the project in 2004 with funding from a bond programme. She and I worked together for about six to seven years to get the student projects to a sufficient level of professional quality. We showed that to the board of trustees. We brought geospatial technology into the Department of Architecture at the community college level because most of that was not even thought about in the early 1990s when we started on this vision. At that time, we saw that the whole geospatial technology, or at least a part of it, really belongs in the environmental design curriculum.

There has been a cultural divide between engineers and architects and the geospatial professionals. How did you map your BIM models with real-world coordinates onto Oracle Spatial’s spatial data object structures ? We developed that workflow ourselves. In the beginning, we worked with the Autodesk geospatial group and used AutoCAD Map. This was 1996–97 and we brought them to show what we had done — we had integrated their entertainment, building design and geospatial products into one application. They found it interesting because this involved the full life cycle. We classified our data [according to SDSFIE] and georeferenced it in AutoCAD Map and then migrated it into Oracle Spatial as spatial data objects. It is all IFC-compliant. We have a link back to the spatial design feature — the piping, the electric wires, and then the classification is carried into Oracle Spatial. Now, we have a

A lot of times when you hear geospatial, you hear just topology, point, line, and polygon. But our vision was that it has to have full fidelity and one model

Geospatial World | April 2013


Geodesign  |  Interview

publishing environment where we have a set of point, line, polygon objects linked back to our model by unique IDs. I didn’t invent any of this. I was carefully tracking what the CADD/GIS Center of the US Department of Defense was doing. [The Center had developed a set of Spatial Data Standards for Facilities, Infrastructure, and Environment (SDSFIE) for exchanging CAD and GIS data] I was aware of the idea of data-driven environments. I had a contact in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority who had some funding from the Federal Department of Education and they had just launched their geospatial environment. This was probably 1995–96, and I talked to them in 2000–01 about putting this project together for the district. When I started looking into it more carefully, I decided to follow the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standard and specifically use Oracle SDO. Initially we launched just to get the portal up, to get the migration workflow working and to be able to show some simple concepts with SDSFIE. When the LACCD saw this running on Oracle, they were interested because they saw it as scalable.

e7 Architecture Studio has captured the entire LACCD campus, including 3D models of all the buildings, transportation and utility infrastructure in a geospatial repository, which can be used for planning and security purposes


Geospatial World | April 2013

How did you use SDSFIE? Basically it’s a granularity issue. It is called ‘level of design’ in the BIM world, but in the civil world, they really do not have this concept. When we started this, we needed to decide whether a facility was a point, a line, or a polygon, and what attributes were attached to each type of facility. We quickly realised that we needed to standardise. Again, I was tracking the CADD/GIS Center and they had already done this in SDSFIE, so I downloaded the SDSFIE schema for Oracle. We had the schemas built into our facility and attribute tables inside of Oracle. For me, it was a simple way of setting a uniform standard rather than doing our own custom schemas. I think the next generation in LA is going to be more regional. What I am referring to is the concept of a microgrid. Even our food supply is going to become more localised. We see the campuses as the beginning of that, the incubator of the cells, which are somewhat hermetic. We have very sophisticated water requirements for storm water

management with sensor controls, renewable energy arrays on all the campuses, central plant, power distribution, heating and cooling and so on. Our model has all these pieces that can scale out to what goes on in the entire city. We wanted to start as granular as we could and that is why we adopted SDSFIE. It enabled us to tie up what we were doing on the campuses to the whole city. SDSFIE was originally designed for military bases and your campuses are not that different from military bases, except that you don’t have warplanes and runways. There are things that we are never going to collect. But when you talk about cadastral mapping, soil investigation, information management, sensor arrays, electric power, water, communication, ducts, tunnels and so on, we have all of them and SDSFIE specifies the attributes you need to collect for all these facilities. Do you have all your infrastructure networks, such as water, waste water and electric power included in the BIM model? All the underground utility distribution systems across the campuses are part of the portal. The consultants did a lot of field verification. Then, as things were excavated, they realised that some of the things were not exactly the way they looked. I would like to say that it is 100% accurate, but a lot of new pipes have been put in place based on our programme. As these new pipes go in, they are classified and georeferenced. Now these are in a CAD file, properly georeferenced so we can migrate that into our Oracle database. Companies are now being asked to deliver data, not just the blueprints. They don’t get that yet, but are beginning to realise that in the future they will have to deliver a model that has to be maintained and by employing our students, they will gain the ability to do this practically. You see this as a microcosm of the whole city of Los Angeles. Is something being done to extend this project? I believe that will happen through Homeland Security, because I have been involved in meetings with them for the city, the county and

We see the campuses as the beginning of a microgrid concept. Our model has all the pieces that can scale out to what goes on in the entire city the fire department and we have shown what we are building. They may not be able to get this for every single structure, but they can see that they need this for the court rooms, the police stations, strategic metro stations and so on. The fact that what I have shown has been built over a long period of time means it’s additive and not something that has to be put in place in a day. We have talked to the mayor and the county supervisors and they are aware of what we are trying to do. What do you think are the next developments as far as the model itself goes? I am working on psychology right now. We are going to spend $6 billion on these campuses over the next couple of years. To really run them correctly, you have to focus on behaviour. How do you get this virtual environment to augment the behaviour of students, the faculty and the campus? For me, that whole behavioural piece in environmental science is the next piece of repurposing all this information to augment behaviour. So this means behavioural changes towards a sustainable future? Exactly. We [must] understand [the importance of ] turning off the lights, closing the windows, sensor controls, smart buildings and why we want to add regional centres. We have to understand why sustainability is important in terms of our communities and the social equity, and we tie them together. For me, that’s the next generation of this. We are fortunate that we got the funding and we have real leadership in our board of trustees who agree that this is important. At a higher level, they understand that it is the mission of the colleges to get the students to take ownership of our society because that is their future.  

Geospatial World | April 2013


Feature  |  Gaming

The old traditional system of console gaming is giving way to new geo enabled games. Using lifelike imagery, exact geographic coordinates and emerging technologies, the new age of gaming is all set to begin a new game altogether.


ost of us have grown up playing classic backyard games like Hide and Seek and Marco Polo. Then, with the advent of technology, came the age of Pac-Man and Mario. Now, the whole gaming landscape is changing drastically with the evolution of virtual and location-based gaming. Our emotional connection with ‘location’ is being exploited by game developers to produce games like MyTown, Life is Crime and Shadow Cities. Even the popular Angry Birds has introduced location-based elements, allowing players to compete with one another on a unique leader board tied to location. As a result, conventional gaming industry is losing its popularity. “People want immersive games as the decade54

Geospatial World | April 2013

old shooting and puzzle games don’t interest them anymore. However, that shooting game can be made more interesting if one has to hunt and shoot Osama Bin Laden. The magic is further enhanced if the chase in such game is set against the backdrop of busy markets of a war-torn Iraq or arid regions of Afghanistan,” says a gaming industry insider on condition of anonymity. Agrees Satyen Sarhad, Founder and CEO, Earthling Technology, developer of Geoception, which uses Google Earth imagery to present life-like combat situations. “The industry is in a flux — quality is improving and fat is being cut out. Facebook/Zynga games are losing their popularity. People want something more,” he adds.

This ‘more’ can only come by blurring the lines between the real and virtual worlds by presenting life-like environment to the gamers. As a result, the stereotypical market of video games has moved beyond plain entertainment and is now offering a plethora of technological and business opportunities. “A wide variety of games are using geospatial imagery, from large, triple-A titles like Tom Clancy’s HAWX by Ubisoft, to smaller mobile games like Unit 9’s MiniMaps,” says Sarhad. As a result we have highly polished, geospatially-accurate 3D worlds at one end of the spectrum, and simple image sprites of zombies layered on top of Google Maps at the other end. Technology tid-bits A combination of map data providers, places databases and game developers

is resulting in geo-enabled games in which people can play in realtime locations. According to Dave Bisceglia, Founder and CEO of The Tap Lab, a mobile game studio focusing on location-based titles, map data providers are needed for drawing geography (streets, water bodies etc) while venue data providers are needed to provide venue details, including latitude and longitude. Google Maps and Open Street Maps can be used for map data. Google Maps is available via the official Google SDKs. One can also use the Styled Map Wizard, customise colours, visibility etc of a number of map elements. Open Street Maps, on the other hand, is available via a much less restrictive attribution. Selecting a place data provider depends upon what type of game a developer is trying to create. For general places databases, the leading options are Google, Foursquare, and Factual. Lastly, a developer integrates all this to produce an engrossing game.

Location-based games typically use Wi-Fi, GPS, and Cell-ID to get the best results in terms of a player’s location. This combination of positioning systems could be extended by using a Bluetooth server in certain locations where high accuracy is required. The proliferation of smartphones and 4G devices has enhanced our ability to download maps and venue data. Smartphones are getting cheaper and better, with operating systems that support downloading of games. Add to it the growing broadband networks and the built-in GPS sensors available in all smartphones, and we have a perfect technological environment for location-based games. According to the iTunes charts for the best selling paid apps for 2009, the most sold games that year were ported versions of popular video games like the SIMS 3. Since then, the mobile gaming marker has not looked back. A market report by Newzoo says the annual growth of mobile games is at 32% and

the revenue this industry generated in the US alone increased 16% year-onyear in 2012. Jordan L. Howard, Founder & CEO, Reloaded In-Game Advertising, identifies mobile gaming to be one of the most significant trends to have emerged in the gaming industry. “With the overall smartphone market growing and improving, mobile games have grown as well,” he says, while identifying improvements around motion sensing input devices (ie Kinect) to be the new trends in the console gaming market. Not just a child’s play The global video gaming industry is predicted to record 9% yearly growth through 2013, to exceed $76 billion, says Business Insights. One has to look at the staggering growth of online games in the recent times to appreciate the possibilities for online location-based games. Further, augmented reality (AR) mobile apps market is expected to generate $300-mn revenue in 2013, as per Juniper Research report. Around 2.5-bn AR apps are expected to be downloaded to smartphones and tablets per year by 2017. Out of the total AR apps downloaded, games will account for the largest share. Sensing the potential of the gaming industry, Internet giant Google is also gearing up to exploit the potential of this space. Its subdivision Niantic Labs debuted in the gaming space with Ingress, a multi-player augmented reality game which uses a real-life location to determine what happens in the virtual world. The game, played on an Android phone, uses augmented reality and GPS Geospatial World | April 2013


Feature  |  Gaming

data, which enable players to see on their screens the invisible portals and other virtual structures and artifacts “overlaid” on the real world (as seen through the phone’s camera lens). Users can even send photos of locations they think should be included in the game as a portal to Google, but there are no guarantees they will be added. Ingress is a runaway hit even though it has not been commercially launched yet and is available only in beta version. Interestingly, with Ingress, Google is able to utilise location data which it has collected in an augmented reality game. PerBlue’s Parallel Kingdom, which uses GPS location to place the player in a virtual world on top of the real world, has been a success ever since its launch in 2008. Last year, PerBlue’s founder and CEO Justin Beck said the game was generating $0.40 to $0.50 per day per daily active user. The numbers are only

continuing to climb. Another geo-enabled game which has taken the gaming industry by storm is Geocaching. The game combines location, social networking, treasure hunting, GPS navigation, and outdoor recreation. It is a treasure hunt game in which players follow GPS directions to search for “geocaches” hidden by other players. Today, there are 2,017,957 active geocaches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide. Booyah, the creator of MyTown, which uses the real world as a Monopoly game board, launched a second version in 2011 after the first version saw 4.5-mn downloads. Players visit real-world locations to earn rewards, which can include virtual money. They can exchange their virtual credit to earn discount coupons and other promotions from

real-life vendors. Shadow Cities, an award winning iOS game from Finish developers Grey Area, which splits players into two factions to conquer their city, is another fine example. As of last year, its user base surpassed 1 million worldwide. Geoception by Earthling Technology utilises the Google Earth API to provide a web browser-based combat UAV simulator that can be played anywhere in the world. The game allows the player to pick any location in the world, and the game AI logic scans the area and intelligently generates targets for the player to locate and destroy. “For example, as your UAV circles Paris, your mission dispatch console will alert you that an anti-aircraft cannon has been detected on a rooftop near the Eiffel Tower,” says its founder Sarhad. One must locate it visually by controlling the UAV’s on board camera and then destroy the target using the aircraft’s on-board weapon systems. Games like Ingress, Parallel Kingdom, MyTown and such others use imagery and maps which are leveraged from real world models, which reduce the artificiality of the game play and increases user participation. Here, integration of GIS and gaming is beneficial to both — the game developers and geospatial industry. “GIS applications would gain from the styling, special effects and rich animation expertise from the video

Popular location-based games My Town2 Getaways

Life is Crime


¼  Players can create cities filled with favourite places from the real world. They can customise & upgrade real businesses and check-in to real places.

¼ It is a location-based multiplayer online game where players commit virtual crimes at real locations.

¼ T he real-time multiplayer game uses Google Maps, Flash and Facebook. Players can challenge their Facebook friends or a random stranger to a race in a virtual setup.


Geospatial World | April 2013

game development world, while the game developers could gain much from a reduced effort on artificial mapengineering, leaving more time for designing interesting scenario-driven game play,” says Sarhad. Miles to go Location-based games, however, are yet to take the mass market by storm. “There have been a limited number of released titles that employ geospatial imagery thus far,” says Sarhad, at the same time pointing to the popular commercial successes. “Some free games enjoy global popularity, as well, such as Xavier Tassin’s Google Earth Flight Simulator Online,” he says, while hoping that increasing exposure will drive the consumers demand for more geo-realism in games. Most location based games are free and here lies the real disadvantage for big companies. Unlike console games, the real profit reaped on such games is difficult to estimate. As a result, mostly start-ups and amateur companies have been investing in this space. Even big players like Sony and Microsoft, which have introduced new types of game experiences to their handheld devices, have not yet ventured in this market. A company like Sony, with its new GPSembedded PS Vita, could further unleash a new life to the gaming sector by

investing in location-based gaming. Even gaming giant Nintendo has not yet ventured into mainstream geo-enabled games. The closest it has reached this market is with its 3DS’ Street Pass System. Will Louton, CEO of game developer Mobile Pie, thinks Nintendo’s Street Pass is exciting but is not ever discussed as location. Imagine what if Nintendo can integrate a great location-based game right into their hardware! So what is stalling the growth of commercial location-based games? Experts see technical challenges arising from the diversity of mobile client devices (laptops, tablet PCs, PDAs, mobile phones), which complicates client software development. The level of accuracy of low-cost GPS means unfiltered data can lead to game errors. Further, designing an exciting multi-player game is a complex process and the location element makes it all the more complicated. Integrating spatial technologies such as GIS and GPS with non-spatial technologies like wireless communication and mobile devices for next-generation, real-time location-based games is a difficult task for developers and not yet commercially viable for big companies.

More than games Traditional video games existed purely for entertainment. While the evolution of geo-enabled games was still based on entertainment, the location and realtime elements lends these virtual games some aspects that can be used in some unique ways in the real world too. Data collection: Geo-enabled mobile gaming can help capture crowdsourced data about the real world to create more accurate and detailed maps. IT giant Microsoft has even filed a patent for a game which will improve its mapping database. The system describes an AR game where users will take photos and post information of a place thereby improving the location information. The location-based mobile game CityExplorer, inspired by the award-winning board game Carcassonne, is the first location-based mobile game explicitly designed to collect geospatial data. The main goal of CityExplorer is to seize realworld locations in the game area by placing virtual

No Zombies Allowed

Shadow Cities

Parallel Kingdom

¼ Players create a safe-haven for survivors of zombie attacks and stock it with supplies from real world places. Survivors can be send for supply runs to real locations.

¼ T he game uses a map of the player's realworld location with a fantastical overlay that allows them to draw magical runes to combat enemies.

¼ T he mobile location-based multiplayer game uses player’s GPS location to place them in a virtual world on top of the real world.

Geospatial World | April 2013


Feature  |  Gaming

On an upsurge

The gaming industry is showing an upsurge trend. Mobile and online gaming formats are projected to fuel the market, with customers taking advantage of wider, faster and more mobile internet access. The world video gaming industry is predicted to record 9% yearly growth through 2013, to exceed $76 billion, according to Business Insights.

With consumers connecting to the internet with smartphones, gaming has become increasingly mobile. Mobile game makers, and phone and electronic device makers have been collaborating to capitalise on the trend towards mobile gaming.

27% 600 Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft million social gamers worldwide

smartphone subscribers have installed one game or more

leading companies in game console market


billion world gaming console market by 2014


billion market for social gaming by 2015

70-80% of all mobile downloads are games

$54 84%

billion mobile gaming industry by 2015

of tablet owners play games

Sources: Business Insights, Visiongain, Market Line, Mashable

markers to them. Another similar game is FIASCO in which players compose a short scene out of pictures similar to improvisational theatre and the aim is to build a new kind of map by publishing the scenes. The trend has caught up so much that it was identified as one of the emerging trends of geospatial information management by the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) in October 2011. The committee had specifically mentioned that “gaming may inspire new developments as opposed to traditional geospatial information.” Urban planning: The innovative synthesis of mapping technology and video game engineering is arming urban planners with tools to create future cities. Design software with roots in game engineering has been incorporated with geospatial 58

Geospatial World | April 2013

technology to drive a new era of urban planning. Terry Bennett, Senior Industry Manager, Civil Engineering & Construction, Autodesk, agrees such games are getting appreciation for presenting the complex issues which engineers and planners face to keep the cities going. “In future such games will become much more involved and can help players in planning, designing and building their cities,” he adds. Ergon Energy, a Queensland utility, is experimenting with open source gaming engines and physics models to capitalise on a massive geospatial dataset from its laser-mapping project. Ergon hopes to create a comprehensive map that would function like the game SimCity, in which players built cityscapes and micromanage a range of factors to change outcomes. Esri Australia’s 3D geospatial specialist Leonard Olyott is of the view

that tools like Esri CityEngine, when populated with geographical data – such as building and road locations – can model the impact of natural and man-made phenomenon on urban infrastructure. “They enable planners to simulate how natural disasters such as flooding, fire or earthquakes could affect a city and create designs that minimise impacts and produce safer urban environments,” he had pointed out at a symposium in Brisbane recently. However, Bennett warns that while for a game the actual information doesn’t have to be geospatially correct and just close enough to make it look good, reallife projects need absolute data accuracy. “For a subway system or highway system in middle of the city, where you talk about inches and millimetres of co-relevance, data integrity is essential, which doesn’t matter in a gaming environment.” he says. “You might have design software in civil infrastructure community that uses

gaming-like user interfaces but we don’t directly take game engines and their mocked up data and put them into the real world.” Gaming is also exposing a whole new generation to concepts of city and urban design. It is helping people understand their cities and its context. “I hope that it does drive people’s awareness and explain that it takes a lot of insight to make cities work cost effectively, to make cost effective decisions and to participate more in the process,” adds Bennett. Local civil authorities such as police, emergency medical personnel, or firefighters can also use this technology in much the same manner as defence forces would, for planning, training, and simulation purposes, suggests Sarhad. While many businesses and services could benefit from improved fleet tracking applications (taxis, buses, trains etc), city administrations could plan a parade route and run 3D simulations of different re-route contingencies. Defence forces: Virtual reality games are also playing a major role in defence and security. GIS-based electronic warfare simulator, which brings the realistic warlike scenario to the classroom, can be used to train soldiers. “Armed forces around the world are investing in it heavily for it makes more sense to sweat more in peace than bleed in war,” says Brig SC Sharma, President – Mil Aero, Axis Aerospace & Technologies. Axis has even developed a GIS-based electronic warfare simulator that can be of immense value to the armed forces. The simulator brings the realistic warlike scenario to the classroom where soldiers can create air situational scenarios and train. GIS-enabled war gaming simulators are helping field commanders in taking smart decisions. Again, Brig Sharma warns that warfare simulators are more advanced and sophisticated.

Ad-ding a twist The gaming industry has opened up new and innovative ad opportunities for businesses and the trend of location-based advertising is catching up fast. Businesses can advertise their banners depending on the location of the player. Also, location-based advertising could influence the customers’ real world movement. For instance, a game which is set inside a shopping mall could allow players to collect some tokens or vouchers which can be encashed at the ‘real’ mall. This could help the mall in boosting its sales and displaying their latest offers to the players. “One of the reasons that in-game advertising has become so popular lately, is that companies realise how influential and large-scale the gaming industry has become. As long as the gaming industry continues to attract millions of teenagers and young adults, advertisers will continue to flock to video games as a ‘go-to’ advertising channel,” says Howard. But what is great about video games is that the technology allows for engaging levels of ad integration, believes Howard, whose Reloaded In-Game Advertising complements location-based games by taking the form of billboard ads throughout virtual urban environments. Dynamic In-Game Advertising also allows companies to geo-target their ads to certain countries or cities.“The Dreyer’s Fruit Bars campaign is a great example of ingame advertising. We get requests for this sort of advertising quite often, as mobile and social games seem to be increasing in popularity amongst advertisers,” he says. Businesses can incorporate their logos and products into the gaming environment through barcode scanning, image recognition or GPS.

Conclusion Emerging technologies like indoor positioning, 3D mapping, and augmented reality present exciting opportunities for geo game developers. The augmented reality games can be transformed to a different level by gadgets like Google’s smartglasses or virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift. These glasses are wearable smartphone devices which overlays the reality of your normal vision with digital information that augments what you see. “Apart from making gaming environments more interactive and more real, such headsets could also help civil engineers in making more informed decisions during planning. Virtual reality has been used in some aspects of engineering. Twenty years ago, Sun Microsystems had a very large 3D visualiser which you put on a helmet and walked into a piping plant. New technology like Oculus may push us towards more geospatial based environments,” notes Bennett. Such gaming environments could add a whole new dimension to geospatial research. “Overall, the gaming industry is on the up-and-up. We will see an increase in game sales across the industry, now that the eighth generation consoles have recently been introduced,” says Howard. The global gaming industry has witnessed a tremendous increase in consumer demand which is supported by social networking, technological innovation that favours mobile gaming, and the popularity of cyber communities that promote online gaming. Going ahead, technology integration and increased role of mapping giants like Google and gaming leaders like Sony can make miracles happen.   Ridhima Kumar, Sub-Editor Geospatial World | April 2013


Land Administration  |  Liberia

war peace Over 20 years of civil war left Liberia in a disarray, with land rights at the centre of the chaos. Now, technology is helping to heal the war wounds and resolve the land crisis 60


ou can find scraps of paper scattered throughout the Western African nation of Liberia. Some are piled in cardboard boxes in government offices from Monrovia to Buchanan. Some are tattered and folded. Some are creased to the extent that they practically fall apart at the touch. They have been yellowed by age, charred by fire and gnawed by rats. They are deeds — records showing ownership of land plots. Many are decades old and barely readable. Some are highly detailed, describing surveyed kilometres and city blocks. Others are so sketchy that the only boundaries listed are rocks and trees. But each one stands for more than the aged paper itself. The deeds represent lives, families and generations. For many people, the deeds — and the land they claim as their own — are all

Geospatial World | April 2013

they have. And in this war-torn nation, nothing is more important, nothing causes more conflict, than land. “Land is the single most explosive issue in this country,” says Andrew Thriscutt, a land administration and deeds ministry advisor with the Liberia Land Policy and Institutional Support (LPIS) project, a programme spearheaded by the Liberian government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “Land has been at the centre of wars. It’s what the people here hold on to. It is what makes a difference in their lives. It is everything to them.” Liberia has been wrecked by nearly 20 years of civil war. The fighting destroyed much of the nation’s infrastructure and left 250,000 dead. Meanwhile, millions of Liberian refugees fled their homes, often retreating to neighbouring nations like Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea.

frameworks for land management. Among its main goals is to restore Liberia’s land records and protect the fragile paper deeds by transferring them into a digital format. The task isn’t easy, Thriscutt says. But it is critical that the existing land records be protected and maintained — not only to safeguard ownership rights but to limit fraud, stimulate the economy and keep the peace.

Image courtesy: UK Department for International Development

Today, about 2 million refugees who were scattered across the sub-region are returning to the land they once occupied — only to find that someone else has been living on it, sometimes for a decade. Across the nation, families, farms and businesses have been lost, while others have been built on disputed land. And the deeds — the tightly held scraps of paper that have signaled generations of lives and homes — can be virtually useless in the face of a shattered institutional framework. “Almost everyone in Liberia has been affected by undocumented land rights,” says Philomena Bloh Sayeh, director of the Liberian Government’s Center for National Documents and Records/Archives (CNDRA), the agency largely responsible for land administration and management. “From the people who fled the country during the turmoil to others who occupied those lands, this affects almost everybody across the board.” The LPIS project team stepped in to help Liberia overcome its land administration challenges. Managed by USAID, the $4-million project aims to secure the policy and legal

A state of disarray Land tenure is a critical issue in post-conflict Liberia. Experts widely recognise it as a potential catalyst for further violence and civil upheaval. In a 2008 report, the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission called land disputes a threat to national peace. An estimated 90% of Liberia’s civil court cases are related to land. And as many as 63% of violent conflicts have their root in land rights issues. Like many institutions in Liberia, CNDRA has seen improvements after the war, but is still burdened by a lack of institutional knowledge. It has few experienced staff and relies on outdated and inadequate resources. In 2010, just over 700 deeds were registered among its 3.8 million people. Indeed, land management is in such dire straits that a World Bank report recently named Liberia as one of the world’s most difficult countries for property registration — ranking it 176th among 183 nations. But already the LPIS project — comprising a team from USAID, the World Bank, the government of Liberia and private organisations — has helped Liberia make remarkable strides. In 2011, LPIS chose OpenTitle software from Thomson Reuters to secure Liberia’s land records in digital format. The software tool ties land records and boundary information to actual geo-referenced locations. Since September 2011, CNDRA staff members have used OpenTitle to scan and index more than 50 deed books and approximately 4,000 records, containing 2,500 pages. In September 2012, CNDRA opened a Customer Service Center in Monrovia. Now, people can directly register new properties in the software system. In addition to digitising old records, the Customer Service Center allows newly registered properties to be immediately safeguarded in the agency’s database. “For the very first time, the public can have their deeds and records entered directly into a digital system which will register their land and ensure their ownership is legally recorded, verified, and stored in a national electronic database,” says Bill McKinzie, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Government Division of Thomson Reuters. A history of conflict Liberia has nearly always been plagued by land conflict. In the early 1820s, freed slaves from North America and the Geospatial World | April 2013


Land Administration  |  Liberia

Caribbean settled in the region with land traveling to-and-from the government offices. Liberia land facts purchased from the indigenous occupants. In The majority of deed copies are held in CNDRA 1847, the settlements became the independent offices, which are located in county capitals state of Liberia. that can be hard to reach, particularly in the World Bank rank From the outset, the government operated rainy season, With an area slightly larger than among 183 nations for under dual systems of laws and policies — one Portugal, Liberia has a mere 657 kilometers of difficulty in property for the coastal Americo-Liberians and the other paved roads. For many Liberians, it’s a two-toregistration for indigenous Africans living in the hinterlands. three day trip to Monrovia — each way. Land tenure for the Americo-Liberians was Land-holders often contract private sector based on English common law (or “statutory professionals, like lawyers and surveyors, to The number of deeds rights”). The indigenous people governed help them through the process. A surveyor may registered in 2010 themselves using their own “customary” fashion charge over $100 — a sizable sum in a country among 3.8 million based in community rights. By 1956, statutory where most people earn $2-$4 a day. With just citizens rights were given precedence over customary 75 professional surveyors in the nation, “rogue” rights and all indigenous lands were effectively surveyors frequently cheat land-holders with converted to state use. bogus surveys, says Thriscutt. “A whole load Liberia’s history of land disputes was “an of people will survey your plot of land using a Of violent conflicts in underlying driver” of the nation’s civil war, tape measure and a compass and charge you the country have their explains USAID’s Land Tenure and Conflict $100,” he says. “Then they will find another roots in lands rights Advisor, Timothy Fella. Even today, the dual person and survey the same plot for them.” issues tenure system and bias towards the statutory And there is no guarantee that the deeds system continues to divide the indigenous at the CNDRA offices are intact. While people from the urban-based Americoland records are generally recognised to be Liberian elites. under CNDRA’s mandate, many have been held in different At the same time, the government has long allocated large government offices throughout Liberia — often with little land concessions to private sector investors like timber, mining, regard for environmental damage. Some deeds are welland agriculture firms — often without the knowledge of the preserved in climate controlled rooms. Others, particularly people already living there. The concessions bar the indigenous historical archives, suffer from wear and tear. They are often communities from the land they have occupied for generations. exposed to everything from rats and beetles to age and “There are government and community chiefs making deals to elements. Many are stored in rooms with no air conditioning. sell these lands without the community knowing,” says LPSI’s The opened windows may help the staff breathe comfortably, Thriscutt. “One day, people wake up and suddenly find there’s an but they also introduce paper-deteriorating dampness. industrial company tearing up their land.” Even the best-preserved deeds may turn out to have Even CNDRA director Sayeh’s family has been caught up in the limited value. Many deeds don’t contain details about the land chaos. “I have a cousin who lost her land and she’s still trying physical location of the actual property. Without this spatial to get it back,” she says. “She was able to trace her documents, but information, the only reference to a location is a metes and somebody built a structure on the land. They went to court to try bounds description or a lot number. Metes and bounds can to resolve the issue.” Indeed, experts say that Liberia’s land courts be virtually useless if the topography and vegetation have have a case backlog that could last for 15 years. changed — a common occurrence in Liberia where the dense rainforest grows rapidly. “The deed might say: ‘Go to a Safeguarding land rights tree, walk 80 paces to that rock over there, then back to that CNDRA, created in 1977 to safeguard public documents like tree and that rock’,” notes Thriscutt. “The problem is the tree land registries, was in shambles by 1990. The chaos of the civil or the rock or whatever has changed from the time the deed war caused the agency to all but disband. Vital land records was given.” were damaged or lost through everything from exposure to the elements to deliberate ransacking of the agency’s building. A new generation Today, many Liberians lack the resources to navigate the To jumpstart its land registry programme, CNDRA needed registration process. Registering a deed can be extremely to improve both its human resources and its technology. expensive, piling up costs like official fees and the price of CNDRA recognised the need to establish an affordable,





Geospatial World | April 2013

rapidly deployed digital land registry system — and educate Liberians to use it. In 2009, CNDRA returned to its original building. But maintenance suffered during the conflict. The building itself was poorly suited for a modern IT infrastructure, with overburdened electrical circuits, no air conditioners and roofs leaking on record storage and staff. But the biggest challenge to modernising CNDRA’s record system isn’t the agency’s headquarters. “By far, it is human capacity,” says Timothy Fella, of USAID. During the civil conflict “the educational system collapsed,” he notes. Indeed, Liberia has just a 57% literacy rate. “You encounter people with shortage of education and experience to carry out some very complicated functions in regards to land,” Fella says. One government official told LPIS’s Thriscutt that, at best, 50 of every 500 employees are capable of completing even the most basic work responsibilities. CNDRA’s first task was to find a way to manage scanning records and indexing for rapid searches. Liberia needed a digital record system that was easy to use, mobile, spatially enabled, flexible, quick to implement, scalable, and cost effective. In conjunction with LPIS, the agency reviewed a number of systems. In summer 2011, it chose OpenTitle, Thomson Reuters’ software system, to restore the land records and secure them in a digital format. OpenTitle combines GIS software with an integrated document management system. That allows it to capture land and property information through documents and videos. The system delivers basic mapping tools and the ability to digitise new features on an ortho-photo or satellite image background. Since the OpenTitle system is spatially enabled, it serves as more than just a database for digital information. It allows land records to be associated with actual geographic information. Most importantly, OpenTitle links spatial units to documentary evidence on the owner/occupier and their rights. With guidance from LPIS stakeholders, including representatives from USAID, the software was installed and put to use quickly. Since September 2011, 15 CNDRA staff members have been trained to use OpenTitle. Many CNDRA employees are relatively young and lack the skill sets needed to work in an archive or registry office. Prior to joining CNDRA, few had experience with information technology. But, as CNDRA director Sayeh notes, “Our employees readily embraced the workshops and training.” On an average, it takes just one day to train the CNDRA staff on integrating paper records, indexing them and storing them in the database. The more complex geo-referencing tasks, like importing geographic data and linking property

To jumpstart its land registry programme, the Center for National Documents and Records/Archives needs to improve its human resources and technology

records to a point or parcel, require more training. But Sayeh says her staff became conversant in the new system in just a week. The project has even addressed educating the public on their land rights. The LPIS-assisted education campaign includes radio dramas, newspaper advertisements, and community workshops to help the public better understand their land rights. One popular radio drama features a two-party conversation: A man bemoans that rats have eaten his land deeds. His friend explains that, by registering his deed, he was able to get a copy of his own rodent-destroyed records. Since the launch of the public education campaigns, some counties are seeing a 20 percent increase in registrations, Sayeh says. Liberia’s new beginning In 2012, Liberia achieved another milestone when CNDRA opened its Customer Service Center in Monrovia. The scene would have been all but unimaginable just a few years earlier: citizens peacefully walking into an office to register new properties in a software system. One by one, people were lead by a greeter to appropriates desks, where staff helped them digitise their frayed and torn deeds — the slips of paper that often represented everything they owned. At the opening of the Customer Service Center, Sayeh watched her countrymen take control of their land rights. She called it one of “my proudest moments here.” As she exclaimed, “The opening of the deeds and records Customer Service Office represents a new beginning for the people.” Nigel Edmead, Project Director, Thomson Reuters Geospatial World | April 2013


Country Focus  |  Ghana

Eye on growth With one percent of its GDP allocated for science, technology and innovation, Ghana is taking slow but giant strides towards growth and development


Courtesy: Edward Kamau (CC by 3.0)

frica has come a long way in the last few years. Some of the key indicators of the region’s rise are increased economic growth, reduced conflicts and civil unrest, substantial improvement in governance and enhanced political liberation. Moreover, most governments in Africa are realising that a strong technological base and the implementation of modern technologies are the key to socio-economic development of the region. Situated in western Africa, Ghana is a fitting example of the continent’s noteworthy ascent. Rated amongst the fastest growing economies in the world with an astonishing 14.4% growth in 2011, the country has an abundance of natural resources and boasts of one of the highest per capita GDP in the continent. Agriculture employs more than half of the 25 million population and accounts for nearly one-quarter of the GDP. Since the discovery of an oilfield in 2007, oil exports have contributed significantly to the country’s economy. Increased

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, the last resting place of the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah


Geospatial World | April 2013

exploration activities have led to further oil discoveries, which, along with the booming construction sector in the country, are contributing significantly to its GDP growth. Ghana’s growth prospects remain positive with large investments planned in infrastructure, extractive industries and commercial agriculture. A distinctive feature of the country’s rapid development is its fast pace of urbanisation. Exploding population in urban areas has put enormous pressure on land as the rapidly expanding cities have caused a number of changes in land use. Geospatial technology is the key to tackling most of the challenges facing the country and the government is in full realisation of this fact. In line with the African Union directive of the Lagos Declaration, the Government of Ghana has promised to allot 1% of the country’s GDP to science, technology and innovation in 2011. The National Science Policy is also mandated to promote newer technologies. Geospatial technology in Ghana Various agencies in Ghana, from land administration to natural resource management to agriculture, have begun to implement geospatial technology in their day-to-day functioning. The most heartening feature is that things are moving swiftly and the future seems full of possibilities. Brent Jones, Global Marketing Manager, Survey/Cadastre/AEC, Esri, is upbeat about the future prospects. “Things are moving very quickly and there is a rapid uptake of geospatial technology. The universities are implementing programmes in GIS, which is extremely vital for capacity building. The physical infrastructure in the country is growing fast to support the oil industry, which is driving additional GIS technology,” he says. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the nodal body established to promote science, technology and innovation research as a national development tool. The agency manages the activities of 13 research institutes, including major productive sectors of the Ghanaian economy. CSIR plays an extremely vital role in

geospatial activities that have facilitated the work of various sections of society including farmers, planners, entrepreneurs, policymakers and engineers. CSIR is involved in a number of projects like the GIS-enabled tourism information project. The project being undertaken along with the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information, involves using GIS as a platform to record tourism information through databases that can serve as useful reference for the tourists. The objective of the project is to increase investment in the tourism sector. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary agency responsible for preserving and improving the country’s environment. The agency’s foremost job is to ensure that the country’s natural resources are well taken care of, so that the future generations inherit a healthier and cleaner world. EPA is making extensive use of GIS to assess the level of environmental degradation and find out newer ways of land reclamation. In 2000, CERSGIS (Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services) was setup by EPA as an agency that develops geospatial applications to support government agencies that want to use GIS as a tool for their activities. Another significant user of the technology is the Forestry Commission of Ghana, which is tasked with research activities and monitoring of various tree species present in the country’s forests. The agency is actively using GIS to enhance its reforestation efforts. Potential verticals Like other developing economies across the globe, Ghana too is witnessing rapid growth in every sector. Although geospatial technology has been implemented by a number of agencies, its penetration is still at a preliminary stage compared to the humongous potential that it holds. While land management is rated by experts as the vertical with the most potential in terms of geospatial implementation, utilities, transportation and disaster management also hold a lot of promise.

Things are moving very quickly and there is a rapid uptake of geospatial technology. The universities are implementing programmes in GIS, which is extremely vital for capacity building Brent Jones Global Marketing Manager, Survey/ Cadastre/AEC, Esri

Geospatial World | April 2013


Country Focus  |  Ghana


There is need to create awareness so that more and more decision makers can be made aware of geospatial technology and its benefits. Doing that will also ensure more funds and resources Dr Isaac Bonsu Karikari National Project Coordinator, Ghana Land Administration Project


“National mapping and cadastre benefit greatly from the use of geospatial technology. In fact, it is difficult for cadastral agencies to process the volume of data they have without GIS,” says Jones, who highlights transportation and natural resources management as other areas where GIS can have a great impact. “Western Africa supports a large agricultural economy that can also benefit greatly from geospatial technology. Mining and oil sectors also have been early adopters. So, there are plenty of areas that can benefit from the use of this technology, which translates into enormous opportunities,” he adds. Land administration Properly defined, legal and secure property rights administered in a transparent land administration system with the right policy framework go a long way in adding to the socio-economic development of a country and alleviating poverty. More than 50% of the population in Ghana derives its livelihood from farming and related activities. It thus becomes imperative that the rights of these people are

Geospatial World | April 2013

protected and their tenures secured, which in turn will encourage investment in land and ensure overall development of the country. In order to make the land management agencies more responsive to the clients, and reduce the cost and time of doing business, the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, initiated the Ghana Land Administration Project. With a total investment of approximately $55 million, the project has resulted in the reduction of turnaround time for land title registration from over six months to less than two-and-half months. The project has also resulted in the creation of essential infrastructure. “Various agencies in the country are using geospatial technology but they do not have the resources or the technical knowhow. Thus, we have initiated the Ghana Land Administration Project to bring in the required resources,” explains Dr Isaac Bonsu Karikari, National Project Coordinator, Ghana Land Administration Project, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. He adds that the required infrastructure has been set up with funding from the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency and the project is moving towards centralisation to create integrated land information systems to connect various land agencies and thus ensure better land management. Natural resource management: Ghana is blessed with abundant natural resources. However, the need of the hour is to manage these resources effectively. Geospatial technology is being used extensively to study and manage the country’s water resources. A major application of GIS and other technologies has been to prepare water resources maps. Another project by CSIR-FORIG (Forestry Research Institute of Ghana) entails the use of satellite images to estimate forest cover changes in the western region of Ghana. Anthony Mallen Ntiador, Business Development Manager, Sambus Geospatial, is happy with the current status of technology usage but sees a lot of scope for improvement.


Services includes

s Loc: 27 Samora Machel Road. Asylum Down. P.O. Box 14727,Accra- Ghana +233 (0) 302245945,226049,245747, 245734. Mobile: +233 (0) 244 314606 GEO - TECH Tel: Fax: +233 (0) 302 236475 / 233707 Email:, SYSTEM LTD. Website:

Country Focus  |  Ghana

“Ghana has made steady growth in the use of geospatial technology, but in terms of potential, it is still not enough. Natural resource is an area that holds a lot of growth potential, especially in terms of forestry.” Pointing out that Ghana’s forest area dwindled from 18 million hectares to 1.8 million hectares in 50 years, he says GIS has the potential to be a good tool to monitor the rate of deforestation. Another area where state-of-the-art technology, geospatial in particular, is playing a key role in mining and oil prospecting and exploration. Further, the technology is also being used to identify harmful impacts in and around the mining and exploration areas. Experts like Ntiador believe a major reason for the extensive use of geospatial technology in oil and mining field is that a majority of companies involved in these areas are foreign based, who are well versed with the latest technologies.

The lack of funds is often a constraint. Especially, the survey and mapping departments need to be upgraded, which requires a lot of funds Stephen Djaba Licensed Surveyor, Geo-Tech Systems


Utilities The utilities sector in Ghana, including the electricity and water sectors, faces numerous challenges like intermittent supply, low water pressure and high losses. The lack of clean drinking water and proper sanitation systems is a major health concern and responsible for a number of disease outbreaks. Besides, the utility organisations are guilty of not running their revenue collecting mechanisms properly and thus running into substantial losses. Most utility lines are improperly documented, which results in long delays to fix an error. The utilities sector in Ghana is yet realise the full potential of geospatial technology in their day-to-day running, but it remains a potential vertical which can make use of the technology to deliver better services to customers as well as cut own losses. Ntiador identifies electricity as a vertical with huge potential for use of geospatial technology. “Besides, telecom GIS is almost absent in the country. Ghana has six telecom companies and only two are using GIS actively,” he adds.

Geospatial World | April 2013

Growing and how

Challenges Lack of capacity and infrastructure Like other developing countries, Ghana faces acute shortage of geospatial professionals. While educational institutes are doing their bit to churn out qualified engineers, the lack of professionals both in terms of quality and quantity is a major concern. Ntiador says in most countries in the region, capacity for GIS is almost zero. “This calls for more rigorous training. Lack of adequate infrastructure is another critical issue. While Ghana is making progress, IT infrastructure in the region is very limited,” he adds. Dr Karikari supports the view. “Capacity building is a challenge. People must know how to use the technology. While things are not too bad, but to ensure optimum utilisation, we have to make sure that more people get trained,”

he says. Dr Karikari also cites the lack of right infrastructure for capacity development. Budget constraints Owing to the low income levels in most African countries, there is serious funds shortage for buying costly equipment required to gather and process geospatial data. At times, even government organisations lack modern equipment. Besides, the limited availability of well-qualified geospatial professionals has given rise to plenty of quack surveyors who produce poor quality work. “The lack of funds is often a constraint. Especially, the survey and mapping departments need to be upgraded, which requires a lot of funds,” says Stephen Djaba, Licensed Surveyor, Geo-Tech Systems. “Lack of skilled people is another constraint. While we have people trained in the universities, we need more skill and hands-on training,” he adds. “A major challenge we face is the unavailability of modern equipment. Besides, the cost of software licences is another major issue,” points out another senior official on the condition of anonymity. He adds that in terms of land registration and preparation of cadastre plans, the base maps are very old. “All of this has to do with lack of funding and that is a major area of concern.” Way forward Ghana has been a frontrunner among African nations when it comes to the use of geospatial technology. The country has been collecting data since the 1990s and a number of projects are capturing spatial information. Thus, the need of the hour is to create the framework and begin to harmonise and use these datasets, which will allow easier access to data so that people can use the base data, add value and deliver products for the decision makers to use. “We are gradually getting into an era where maps are coming back. Ghana has all the right ingredients to move forward,” says another government official. While there are a number of challenges facing the growth of geospatial technology in

Ghana, experts believe that things are moving in the right direction and with proper training and guidance, the country can take giant strides in the field and accelerate its growth. “The geospatial community in Ghana should look to get as much training as possible and stay abreast of things. Technology is changing very fast and is providing a lot of opportunities. In western Africa, geospatial is becoming an industry of its own, so the more you increase your personal capabilities, the better you will do and the more you will help drive geospatial technology,” says Esri’s Jones. Creating awareness about the tremendous utility of this technology, especially amongst the decision makers is another area that needs immediate attention. Dr Karikari believes this will also lead to more funds and resources. “For example, the World Bank funds are given in tranches related to planned activities, and it is up to the decision makers to distribute those to various implementation agencies,” he points out. A majority of the people in Africa struggle for even the basic amenities. Experts believe that for the technology to be really successful, it has to reach out to the lowest rung and help them tackle their day-to-day challenges. “Geospatial proponents have to provide a solution that reaches the lower strata of the society. Security of tenure is extremely important in this region and geospatial technology should really reach down to solve this issue,” emphasises Kwame Tenadu, President, Licensed Surveyors Association of Ghana (LISAG). Lastly, geospatial has to be made an essential part of the educational setup to ensure a bright future. “Africa can transform itself effectively if GIS is imbibed in the educational system at the basic level. If this is done, in no time Africa will begin to have the Zuckerbergs and the Bill Gates, when the technology is taken at that level,” signs off Ntiador. 

For technologies to be truly effective, we have to make sure that it reaches the local population. Geospatial proponents have to provide a solution that reaches the lowest strata of the society Kwame Tenadu President, Licensed Surveyors Association of Ghana

Vaibhav Arora, Assistant Editor

Geospatial World | April 2013


techknow Buzz

Here W come smart talking shoes!

henever we plan to explore a new place, we wish to have a friendly, energetic and professional tour guide. But imagine a pair of obedient shoes, which tells you your location, nearest attraction points, shows you the shortest route on a map and allows you to post your experience on your favorite social networking websites.

It is not a fairytale because a new hightech footwear from Google can now provide directions, speed and can even dish out trash talk. Recently, at the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Google unveiled this prototype footwear. The prototype has been created in


collaboration with Adidas, YesYesNo – a creative thinker and 72andSunny – an advertising agency. Specification The shoe is outfitted with a speaker, computer, accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure sensor. It is programmed to translate the pressure sensor and accelerometer readings into simple audio instructions for users. Google’s shoemakers have given it shoes their own personality


– that of a sarcastic, impatient personal trainer who cheers and sneers in equal measure. For example, when users get stationary for too long, it will say, “This is super boring”, or “Let’s do this”. When someone ups their activity, the shoes will pipe up with, “That’s more like it”, and “I love the feel of the wind in my laces”. And increasing to a sprint will prompt the speakers to call out, “Call 911, you are on fire”, or the ultimate in praise, “You have made me a very proud shoe”. According

Pressure sensor


In the sole   Pressure sensor: Measures activity by recording strikes of sole on the ground  Accelerometer: Senses changes of speed and movement  Gyroscope: Monitors changes of direction and balance


Geospatial World | April 2013

In the Tongue  Microprocessor: Takes the information from the sensors and calculates the wearer’s activity levels, feeding audio messages to the speakers   Play recorded clips from a selection of 250 phases

Speaker   Plays recorded clips from a selection of 250 phases  Clips may be sarcastic and of impatient personal trainer who cheers and sneers

On your Phone  T he shoes can send data to a smartphone. An app analyses the information and can use GPS to plot running routes and places on Google maps  It can be connected with other devices via bluetooth

to media reports, the shoes know 250 such phrases. It connects to the Internet via bluetooth and an Android phone and works with Google Map to track and plot runs. Is privacy at stake? No doubt, Google’s smart talking shoes have drawn people’s attention worldwide, but it has also raised debate on the privacy issue. Imagine a hypothetical situation. Your shoes sense your location that you are in the vicinity of an advertiser’s store, and starts hard-selling the latest undergarment or a pregnancy home test-kit or x-rated shows’ tickets, based on your most recent Google searches – now who wouldn’t have objection on this kind of privacy invasion? Related work The connected shoe isn’t a totally novel idea. Earlier, Nike had made sneakers with sensors in them to measure users’ workouts. But a shoe with a personality, which actually speaks with users in a human voice, is a bit of a novelty.

Sensor for reconnaissance operations


he military always wants everything smaller, lighter and precise. To address this need, a team of researchers at the US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) integrated state-of-the-art devices and developed ‘Global Strike Near Real Time Battle Data Assessment (NRT-BDA) System’. The ECBC has collaborated with other organisations to design sensors and other parts that the Electronic Design and Integration Branch incorporated into the device. They worked with ECBC’s Engineering Design and Analysis Branch, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Air Force Research Laboratory, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Kansas State University and Smith’s Detection. A sensor for the Global Strike NRT-BDA System Specifications The Global Strike NRT-BDA System incorporates unattended sensors and a remote warfighter interface to provide timely reporting of conditions during reconnaissance operations. One sensor includes a chemical agent detector similar in shape and size of a two-pound soda can. The sensors are intended to be air deployed and have been tested from a P-3 Orion aircraft at 1,000 feet. The sensor is equipped with an accelerometer, which triggers the release of the cap and small parachute (ballute). Once it lands, spring-loaded legs pop open, allowing it to sit upright. The detector is also equipped with a GPS tracking device. Once the detector has landed and the position remains the same, the device initiates the start sequence of the detector so it can detect chemical agents and other threats, in addition to seismic activity. This detector, which was a redesign of the Joint Chemical Agent Detector, can feed information to a satellite and then to soldiers manning a warfighter interface as far as a few thousand miles away. Novelty One of the earlier challenges with the Global Strike NRT-BDA was fitting all three antennas onto a circuit board that was two and-one-quarter-inch in diameter. It contained a GPS antenna for location purposes, an iridium antenna that sends information up to a satellite, and a short-range communications antenna. In a later design, the short-range communication antenna was no longer required.

Geospatial World | April 2013


Tender Alert

Europe Supply and Implementation of GIS Category: GIS Location: Croatia Closing Date: April 23, 2013 Web Link: Provision of Precise Surveying Category: Surveying Location: France Closing Date: May 6, 2013 Web Link:

Air and Land Surveying for Road Projects Category: Surveying Location: France Closing Date: April 30, 2013 Web Link:

Provision of Geodetic Services Category: Misc Location: Croatia Closing Date: April 15, 2013 Web Link: Dimensional surveying services Category: Surveying Location: Poland Closing Date: April 30, 2013 Web Link:

Satellite Data Archive Category: Misc Location: Germany Closing Date: May 6, 2013 Web Link:

Subdivision Survey for New Lands Category: Surveying Location: Philippines Closing Date: April 22, 2013 Web Link:

Preparatory Survey Water Resources Category: Surveying Location: Japan Closing Date: April 19, 2013 Web Link:

Africa APAC Dimensional Surveying Services Category: Surveying Location: Poland Closing Date: April 22, 2013 Web Link: Surveying Services on Island Category: Surveying Location: Croatia Closing Date: April 15, 2013 Web Link:


Geospatial World | April 2013

Road and Pathways Condition Survey Category: Surveying Location: Australia Closing Date: April 16, 2013 Web Link: Survey, Mapping and Planning Category: Surveying/Mapping Location: Philippines Closing Date: April 15, 2013 Web Link:

Supply and Installation of Geolocation Solution Category: GPS Location: Algeria Closing Date: April 18, 2013 Web Link: Airborne Surveys Category: Surveying Location: South Africa Closing Date: April 18, 2013 Web Link:

South Asia

Purchase of Vehicles Monitoring System Category: GPS Location: South Africa Closing Date: April 22, 2013 Web Link:

Implementation of Geodatabase System Category: Misc Location: Kenya Closing Date: April 17, 2013 Web Link:

Americas Aerial Photography Category: Aerial Photography Location: United States Closing Date: April 11, 2013 Web Link: GPS System for Student Transportation Category: GPS Location: United States Closing Date: April 17, 2013 Web Link: Embedded GPS Category: GPS Location: United States Closing Date: April 30, 2013 Web Link:

GIS Mapping of Hazardous Waste Units Category: GIS Location: India Closing Date: October 01, 2013 Web Link: Performance of a Contract of Cadastre Category: Cadastre Location: Canada Closing Date: May 07, 2013 Web Link: Topographic Consulting Services Category: Misc Location: United States Closing Date: April 12, 2013 Web Link: Furnishing a GPS station Category: GPS Location: United States Closing Date: April 12, 2013 Web Link:

Provision of Land Survey Services Category: Surveying Location: Bhutan Closing Date: April 15, 2013 Web Link:

Middle East GPS-Based Time Synchronizing System Category: GPS Location: Oman Closing Date: April 15, 2013 Web Link:

Compact, Short-range Anemometric LiDAR Category: LiDAR Location: Canada Closing Date: April 25, 2013 Web Link: Development of GIS with study Category: GIS Location: Saudi Arabia Closing Date: May 27, 2013 Web Link:

For the latest geospatial tenders from across the globe, log on to: Geospatial World | April 2013


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Imagery courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Geospatial World April 2013  

Special edition on Big Data

Geospatial World April 2013  

Special edition on Big Data