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El mundo al instante

Icontec impulsa la norma antisoborno

shutterstock 593942156

La norma es un paso importante en la lucha contra la corrupción. Archivo

Como una norma que define las medidas para ayudar a las organizaciones públicas y privadas de Colombia a prevenir, detectar y enfrentar el soborno, el Instituto Colombiano de Normas Técnicas y Certificación (Icontec), impulsa la aplicación de la NTC-ISO 37001.

El director ejecutivo del Icontec, Roberto Enrique Montoya, estuvo ayer en Barranquillaexplicando los alcances de la nueva norma que contiene los Sistemas de gestión anti-
soborno y que se constituye en un importante paso en la lucha contra la corrupción.

“Este tipo de medidas son un mecanismo que le ayuda a la organización en su administración, procesos y diferentes áreas que tienen mayor riesgo para mitigar la posibilidad de corrupción”, indicó el ejecutivo quien explicó que el consejo directivo de Icontec tomó la determinación de no entregar una certificación pues se trata un tema de ética empresarial.

Destacó que la construcción, aprobación y traducción de la norma fue liderada, desde febrero de 2016, por el Icontec, la Secretaría de Transparencia de la Presidencia de la República y la Sociedad Colombiana de Ingenieros (SCI), junto a otras entidades.

Fue adoptada en el primer semestre de este año como norma técnica colombiana y actualmente el instituto se encuentra en un proceso de divulgación y sensibilización de su contenido con los sectores público y privado.

Para la aplicación el sector público se trabaja con la Procuraduría General de la Nación en la firma de un convenio, mientras que con el sector privado se avanza con gremios, organizaciones empresariales y cámaras de comercio.

“Hay mucho interés por parte de las empresas porque son conscientes de que su sostenibilidad en buena parte depende de la reputación”, agregó.

Aclaró que la idea no es una solución por sí sola para el problema de la corrupción. “Las normas por sí solas no resuelven un problema de principios y valores”. 

Afirmó que el valor de la nueva norma radica en su flexibilidad, ya que puede ser adoptada e implementada por una organización como un sistema independiente o puede ser integrada a uno ya existente.

Icontec desarrolla un programa de capacitación y asesoría sobre este tema. - 22 de Noviembre del 2017

UAVs provide cell service following hurricanes

And other interesting drone developments.

If you blink or take your eyes off the growing unmanned aerial systems industry, you might get blind-sided — something new and significant seems to happen all the time.

  • We’ve heard about drones being developed to provide temporary cell-phone service before, but few have been actually used until hurricanes Irma and Maria double-devastated the Caribbean islands.
  • Package delivery testing in the U.S .by the big mail-order companies is showing promise, but China is already using drones to deliver fruit.
  • Air-transport fans of the huge Antonov AN-225 might be surprised that the Russian manufacturer has now shown up with a mid-sized UAV
  • Uber is working towards flying taxis

Despite all this great progress for the industry, idiots are trying to destroy all this positive work by flying drones into passenger aircraft on final approach!

Restoring Cell Coverage in Puerto Rico

We’ve all heard the mess that Puerto Rico has become following hits by, first, hurricane Harvey, and then again, by Maria a few weeks later — never mind the devastation in many of the nearby other Caribbean islands. Restoring even electrical power on Puerto Rico seems to be taking months, and many people are still subsisting on supplies flown in by the U.S. Government.

So, it’s possibly a good thing when we hear about AT&T’s flying COW (Cell On Wings) being deployed in Puerto Rico to provide temporary voice and data coverage.

AT&T’s flying COW (Cell On Wings).

This is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster, and is providing customers with wireless connectivity for around a 40-square-mile-area from 200 feet in the air and is currently deployed in the San Juan area.

Thanks to these and other efforts, nearly 70 percent of the population in Puerto Rico and nearly 95 percent of the population in the U.S. Virgin Islands are once again connected.

Chinese Drone Deliveries

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has tested unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages over water for the first time — from Putian in the East of mainland China to Meizhou Island. Three drones — each carrying four kilograms of passionfruit — flew into strong headwinds over the 5-km trip to cross the channel to the island in around nine minutes.

Alibaba delivery drone.

The drones were jointly developed by Alibaba’s delivery company Cainiao Network, the company’s rural shopping platform Rural Taobao, and a “domestic technology firm,” and each has capacity to carry 7 kg. Alibaba plans to use drones to deliver high value-added products such as fresh food and medical supplies over water in the future.

Another Chinese e-commerce platform,, started conducting trial deliveries using drones in 2016. Smaller drones are being used in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, and Suqian, Jiangsu province.

Big Manufacturer, Small Drone

Then we have the manufacturer of the world’s largest aircraft — the Antonov AN-225 Mriya — who has now joined the UAV club with initial test flights of the BPLA tactical UAV.

While the AN-225 is 50 percent heavier than a fully loaded USAF C-5A, the BPLA checks in with a maximum take-off weight of only 200 pounds — still a good size for a UAV.

The BPLA is similar to the Textron Shadow with a twin-boom, inverted-V tail control surface. BPLA is to be used for intelligence-gathering and artillery spotting, with Ukrainian army trials expected to take place in the spring of 2018.

Uber Partners with NASA

Uber has joined an existing industry group working under NASA’s auspices to develop an air traffic control system for drone traffic management — part of NASA’s Space Act Agreement, a consortium of industry players working to ensure “safe and efficient operations” of taxis and other small unmanned aerial systems flying at low altitudes.

With plans to introduce flying taxis as early as 2020, Uber intends to be one of the first with unmanned air vehicles carrying people around and between cities as uberAIR.

Uber previously announced city partnerships to conduct four-person ride-sharing flights in Dallas, Texas, and Dubai, with additional demos coming to Los Angeles in 2020. Uber has signed up Embraer, Mooney, Bell Helicopter and Pipistrel Aircraft to develop new vertical take-off and landing aircraft for this service — electric jet-powered vehicles that are part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing aircraft, with multiple rotors capable of both vertical take-off and landing and rapid horizontal flight.

Aerolineas Argentinas

There were no injuries, but the aircraft did sustain minor damage and it was taken out of service for inspection and repair. Just taking a passenger aircraft out of the operational rotation for unplanned service alone can cost many thousands of dollars.

The incident is being investigated by the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC) and the Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Board (JIAAC).


So, good news for restoring cell coverage using drones; authorized parcel delivery by drone can’t be far away; even the big manufacturers believe in the emerging drone market; and are we closer now for flying taxis and The Jetsons’ view of tomorrow?

However, we must still do more to prevent drone incursions — intentional or otherwise — into places where they are not wanted. Lots of versions of anti-drone or area-denial systems for drones are emerging or are already on the market — let’s get some of these into place to protect commercial aircraft take-off and final approach paths as well as to protect vital and sensitive facilities.

Tony Murfin
GNSS Aerospace - 20 de Noviembre del 2017

Constructing Very High Resolution Satellite Data Surface Models

Comparison with the ISPRS Lidar Benchmark Data


A digital surface model (DSM) is a common photogrammetric product which is widely applied in the areas of surveying and mapping as well as geographic information systems (GIS). In line with the invention of the semi-global matching (SGM) algorithm by H. Hirschmüller in 2005, stereo pairs are matched pixel-wise, leading to a very dense DSM. Very high resolution satellite (VHRS) imaging sensors provide stereo images at up to 0.3m ground sampling distance (GSD). The major advantage of VHRS data is that the data coverage is much larger than that of classical airborne data. Therefore VHRS imagery is a promising option to generate 3D point clouds and DSMs.

To verify VHRS algorithms, a VHRS benchmark dataset of an area in Catalonia (Spain) is provided by the ISPRS Working Group I/4 on Geometric and Radiometric Modelling of Optical Spaceborne Sensors. The data for the benchmark was laser scanned by the Institut Cartografic de Catalunya (ICC) and functions as a reference dataset.

The University of Stuttgart – Institute for Photogrammetry applied a Worldview-1 (WV-1) dataset at 0.5m GSD to the ISPRS benchmark using their own processing algorithms. The data was acquired on 29 August 2008, with a stereo angle of the pair of 35 . The dataset contains three different regions: La Mola, Terrassa and Canarisses. For each region, the size of the stereo image is approximately 8,000 x 8,000 pixels. These regions cover rural, urban, forest, flat and mountainous areas. All the data is delivered at Level 1B, which provides radiometrically corrected imagery in top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiance values and in sensor geometry. The data contains the corresponding rational polynomial coefficient (RPC) files, which describe the exterior orientation of the satellite orbits.

Figure 1, Modified piecewise epipolar resampling method.
Figure 1, Modified piecewise epipolar resampling method.

Processing VHRS data

The algorithms used were implemented as an automatic pipeline to generate both point clouds and DSMs. Normally the first procedure is the RPC-based bundle block adjustment but, because the orientation of the benchmark dataset’s RPC files were already available, the actual first step was epipolar resampling. In epipolar resampling, corresponding points are located on the same row in the file so that the calculating time and memory usage is reduced. In a standard aerial camera geometry, the epipolar points are all on a straight line. However, in a VHRS image they are more like hyperbolas.

To approximate the hyperbola, a modified piecewise epipolar resampling method based on J. Oh’s research was used (Figure 1). In this resampling method, a number of steps are performed. The first step is to define the coordinate system of the stereo epipolar image. The centre point of the left image is used to calculate the direction of the initial epipolar curve and its orthogonal line. The next step is the determination of the start point for the epipolar curve pair generation from the bottom boundary of the left image. According to the characteristic of a VHRS image’s epipolar curve, the local epipolar curves are approximated using the projection-trajectory method. For the epipolar segment inside the image, a pre-defined length of the segment is given and a new epipolar segment will be generated if it reaches the pre-defined length. In the last step, the stereo images are resampled along the epipolar segments.

Figure 2, Calculated point clouds: a) La Mola, b) Terrassa, and c) Canarisses.
Figure 2, Calculated point clouds: a) La Mola, b) Terrassa, and c) Canarisses.

The dense image matching is now based on the resampled epipolar stereo pair. The C/C++ library LibTsgm is applied and integrated in the processing pipeline for pixel-by-pixel matching. LibTsgm implements a modified SGM method and was developed at the University of Stuttgart – Institute for Photogrammetry and then outsourced to nFrames GmbH in Stuttgart in 2013. When the dense image matching is finished, 3D point clouds are calculated; from these point clouds, the DSMs are generated with a GSD of 1m. For better visualisation, the point clouds are meshed by CloudCompare (Figure 2).

Point cloud accuracy

In order to investigate the performance of the 3D reconstruction pipeline, three different types of terrain (samples) have been extracted from the point cloud to show more detail (Figure 3): a) mountainous forest area, b) flat rural area, and c) urban area. The point cloud from the VHRS data is in general coarser than that of the reference Lidar point cloud. The extracted DSMs are compared with the reference Lidar point clouds. The height between the processed WV-1 DSM and the Lidar point cloud is compared and, from this comparison, difference charts are created.

The basic terrain of the mountainous forests is reconstructed well in the satellite data, with most height differences less than 2.5m. In the flat rural area, some detailed features are missing in the VHRS point cloud but overall height differences are at the sub-metre level. In the urban area, the buildings in the Lidar point cloud have sharper edges than in the VHRS data and most details are missing, although the WV-1’s point cloud can reconstruct some details on the roofs. Most height differences are less than 2m in urban areas.

Figure 3, Reconstruction details of a Lidar point cloud of an urban environment.

A further investigation of the accuracy shows that overall accuracy is affected by shadows in the scenery. As a result, the accuracy in the flat rural area is the best as there are minimal shadows. The buildings create many shadows that influence their reconstruction and affect the accuracy. The accuracy of the mountainous forest area is affected by the shadow of the trees as well as the steep height changes.

DSM accuracy

The Lidar point cloud is processed into a reference DSM in order to compare the DSM from the VHRS. To evaluate the accuracy of the 3D reconstruction, the root mean square error (RMSE) has been calculated according to the height differences of the DSMs. This shows that the RMSE of the La Mola test site is about 3.1m, of the Terrassa test site is 2.8m and of the Canarisses test site is 3.4m. The Terrassa test site has a better RMSE because it has more flat areas.

For a robust estimation, the normalised median deviation (NMAD) between the two DSMs is calculated. The corresponding 68% and 95% quantiles of absolute errors are also taken. The distributions of the height differences are depicted as a histogram for each test site. The NMAD varies between 0.8 and 1.4m with the 68% varying between 1.4 and 1.9m and the 95% varying between 7.0 and 8.3m (Table 1).

Test site

NMAD [m]

68% [m]

95% [m]

RMSE [m]






La Mola










Table 1, Overview of DSM comparison.


The automatic 3D reconstruction pipeline of the (V)HRS data has been verified as an accurate and robust method. The generated 3D point clouds and DSMs are very dense, and the main texture information of the test sites is reconstructed. The DSM has some outliers and the edges of buildings are not sharp because of the influence of shadows and low image redundancy. Better results could possibly be obtained if higher resolution data (e.g. 0.3m GSD satellite imagery) and multi-view imagery are applied in future work. - 20 de Noviembre del 2017

Effective Use of Geospatial Big Data

Server Solutions Hold the Key

The heart of any geospatial analysis system, regardless of its location or configuration, is increasingly becoming the server. All face a similar challenge, whether the system is in the ‘cloud’, a secure data centre or on a single machine running in an office. This challenge is primarily the ability to deal with the ever-increasing quantities and variety of data the world now produces at an unprecedented rate. For mission-critical systems, purposely designed software is required, tested in the most demanding environments. Try doing it cheaper and you only end up wasting money.

Both commercial and government organisations recognise the enormous fiscal, operational and social benefits of utilising their geospatial data for analysis. However, because the volume, variety and velocity of the data is continually expanding, it generates increasing problems for those tasked with the storage, analysis and serving of the information within an organisation. In addition, companies are experiencing challenges related to the many new sensor platforms that are emerging, many of which did not exist a few years ago and which must be incorporated into future GIS applications. 

‘Maps gone digital’ Mindset Disables

It is therefore vital that when an organisation is considering a new system, it has the ability to deal with the ever rising amount and sorts of data, whether this data is coming from georeferenced social media posts, high-resolution satellite imagery or smart energy metres.  Legacy technology based on the ‘maps gone digital’ mindset is unable to provide the visual quality, speed and accuracy necessary to run on platforms as diverse as Windows, Linux, Amazon AWS, a Docker Container or even be deployable from a USB stick if needed.

Organisations today need the industry standard system foundations for truly interactive solutions capable of analysing and visualising video, photographic, unstructured text and many forms of legacy data real-time and in a secure environment. Equally, systems should ideally be based on proven technology, and be extensively tested within the demanding mission critical defence and aerospace sectors - the most extreme and demanding of all software operational environments. In essence, to deliver performance and accuracy without compromise for the analysis of geospatial Big Data and the location information that flows from the Internet of Things, purposely designed software is required.

Analysing social media by keyword (what) to map where and when the communication happened.
Analysing social media by keyword (what) to map where and when the communication happened.

For those who only have experience of legacy systems, a single unified and secure future proof server solution for data publication workflow and geospatial data management is most in demand. This is because these kinds of systems enable users to manage their data intelligently, store and process a multitude of data formats and feed data into numerous applications with varying levels of security. Features including powerful automatic cataloging as well as quick and easy data publishing are also in demand. This allows users to design, portray, process and set up advanced 3D maps in a few simple clicks.

These are requirements and demands that we have seen at Luciad over the past few years, both through our work with some of the most demanding Big Data users such as NATO and EUROCONTROL and through our work with commercial organisations such as Oracle and Engie Ineo. So, what does a geospatial server solution capable of dealing with these challenges and satisfying these demands actually require? 

Spatial Server Solutions Requirements

First, they should be able to connect directly to a multitude of geographic data formats such as IBM DB2, OGC GeoPackage, Oracle Spatial, SAP HANA and Microsoft SQL Server. This is an essential part of ensuring that they can cope with the explosion of formats that the rise of Big Data has prompted. It is also essential that these server systems move away from the Extract – Transform - Load paradigm and avoid converting the data into a fixed high cost proprietary format before analysis. This retention of the original format is recognised as the only method that ensures both high speed and accuracy of processing when dealing with the growing, dynamic datasets that now are the norm.

A view of the data management screen in LuciadFusion.
A view of the data management screen in LuciadFusion.

Second, in situations where a user has a large quantity of high-volume – high-quality geospatial data that needs to be published to an OGC standard, this must be achieved with a few clicks. This avoids complex, risky and time consuming pre-processing of the data or custom software code. The same ease of use is required with other common formats like ECDIS Maritime data, Shape, KML, and GeoTiff formats among many others. It is vital that this data can be accessed and represented in any coordinate reference system (geodetic, geocentric, topocentric, grid) and in any projection while performing advanced geodetic calculations, transformations and ortho-rectification. This is especially crucial of datasets such as weather and satellite information, which includes detailed temporal references and high-resolution video files that need to be visualised in 3D to include ground elevation data and moving objects.


The demands of users, however, do go beyond the server solution itself. At the heart of any decision regarding a major GIS IT or technology purchase should be an understanding of the support, training and help that will be required, plus a firm written commitment from the supplier regarding backwards compatibility. The user should also be aware of and involved with the development roadmap; a roadmap that should be driven by the needs and wishes of both the end user and the developer community.

A view of Los Angeles, with thematically styled buildings, using data published in LuciadFusion.

This is something which is a recognised and concerning weakness of Open Source software, most of which offer near non-existent help and training. What training there is may well be coming from individuals with no relevant qualifications or skills and who are often all located in one global time zone, which delays responses. Where lives matter, such as in mission critical environments, Open Source is a risk. It is vital that advanced in-person and online training is available from those individuals who have an intimate close working knowledge of the software and a relationship with the original coding team backed up by detailed manuals and code examples. Training and support should only be from subject matter experts who understand the time critical commercial challenges of business. They should also be aware of the planned development pathways for the software and the possibilities for custom code if needed for one-off projects with unique requirements. 

Technology Advances

Giving users and developers the tools to extend the solution that they have is also essential. As has been mentioned, new data formats may be introduced, and requirements may change as technology advances. This necessitates putting together a user guide that delivers clear explanations and descriptions of best practices, along with API references. They offer a detailed description of all interfaces and classes to ensure a new user is able to seamlessly add new data formats and sources as needed for a project. As an example, the development of a Common Operating Picture will require a combination of imagery, military symbology, NVG files,radar feeds and always changing types of other data, in one system, in near real-time and with the minimum of delay.

GIS can help build the future of a community, assist in the security of a country, form the basis of a mission planning system and can open new avenues of revenue and profit for a company. However, this can only be realised if the right system is specified and purchased. Too many organisations have wasted time, money and resources attempting to save money or cut back on the initial assessment requirements. Research shows that systems proven in the crucible of deployed operations have the robustness required to deliver in other markets.

One partner of Luciad is Sc2 Corp. Conversations on social media reveal valuable information for decision-makers. Leaders have a new tool to capture and analyse posts and tweets -and keep what they find private. Sc2 Corp created the Human Terrain Analysis System. It is an application to analyse social media communication that uses Luciad technology to map where conversations occur and plot when they happened. The system also analyses what people are saying. All of this takes place in an appliance purchased by the user, not in the cloud. To monitor social media, Sc2 Corp needed to be able to analyse data in 40 languages and examine linguistics of the posts and tweets. They also wanted to be able to map and plot the times of conversations and partnered with IBM and Luciad to design the system. Users can choose to see mapped data two or three dimensionally.  A concert promoter for example, can see where people are talking about particular musicians. Or retailers can gauge customer interest in particular products in their neighbourhood, etc. The application can analyse the same amount of data in half a day that it would take 20 people to analyse in a full day, and is therefore becoming popular among governments, insurance companies, investment agencies and marketing groups. - Viernes 10 de Noviembre del 2017

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