This year marks 50 years since man first set foot on the moon. The Apollo-11 spaceflight landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, and just a few hours later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first two humans to step onto the lunar surface. The breathtaking photos of our planet taken from the moon – also the famous Earthrise photograph taken in December 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission – have since become some of the most iconic pictures ever. However, these were not the first images of Earth captured from space; the first satellite photographs of Earth were taken on by the U.S. Explorer 6 in August 1959. To be honest those images didn’t give us much information, comments Wim van Wegen in his latest contribution to 'GIM International'. For example, the first image showed only a sunny area of the Central Pacific Ocean and its cloud cover. Now, 60 years later, it’s impossible to imagine life without satellite imagery.
The evolution and rise of satellite technology has brought us an extra dimension. Satellite imagery is available everywhere nowadays, not least thanks to Google Earth – launched in 2001 – which renders a 3D representation of our planet built on satellite imagery. It combines satellite images, aerial photography and GIS data to create a 3D globe, including photorealistic 3D imagery of hundreds of cities all over the world. Google Earth uses digital elevation model data acquired by NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.
Generation Y (also known as the ‘millennials’) and especially generation Z – the ‘digital natives’ – take satellite imagery and its many applications for granted. But it is all the result of endless trial and error, a lot of pioneering work, continuous innovation and the unmeasurable brain capacity of some of the smartest scientists in the world. Satellite imaginary has made an immense impact on many aspects of life, ranging from cartography, hydrology and meteorology to agriculture, geology and intelligence. It has enriched society with countless new solutions to improve our daily lives – and it will be a key tool to overcome some of the most urgent problems currently faced by our planet.
Sometimes the methods for tackling these problems are surprisingly less complicated than one would expect. A striking example of this is the Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) technique used in Niger and some of its neighbouring countries. In the Sahel, a gigantic region in northern Africa that comprises a belt of over 1,000km from north to south and 5,500km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, desertification is a major issue. 12 years ago, satellite images were key in Chris Reij, a Dutch sustainable agriculture expert at the World Resources Institute, ascertaining the extent of the greening phenomenon known as FMNR: 250 million trees across six million hectares. FMNR proved to be a way more successful method than the prestigious – and expensive – Great Green Wall, the flagship initiative to combat the effects of climate change and desertification in North Africa.
The satellite industry is a high-cost industry, but it also generates solutions that save money and make the world a better place. The natural regeneration project in Niger is an example that gives new hope and inspiration for a sustainable future – not only for the generations Y and Z, but also for their descendants.
http://www.GIM-INTERNATIONAL.com Viernes 18 de Enero del 2019
While the demand for satellite imagery and value-added services soars in the Earth observation (EO) market amidst the global space race 2.0, enhanced resolution is driving the creation of a queryable digital Earth. We are fixed on a rapid growth curve towards real-time intelligence in under five years, writes Kolemann Lutz in a new column for 'GIM International'. By sharing the true potential and benefits of real-time imagery, we can better help communities enjoy worthwhile life improvements. Hence, as the capacity of ecosystems thrusts towards a period of hyper-acceleration and an unimaginable reality, imaging satellites will be a key driver in the development of the human race.
As industries gravitate towards capital demand, developing the global economy begins from the ground up. From predicting poverty to resolving water sustainability and revolutionizing farming in rural communities, geospatial insight is a powerful alternative dataset to bolster the quality of life in developing nations. By aiding NGOs with affordable product rates and by supporting philanthropic efforts of large corporations, the EO community is helping mankind estimate when we will achieve each UN Sustainable Development Goal. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) provides a robust 2030 Agenda to help us better achieve sustainable development. As stated by Gary Watmough, geospatial researcher at the University of Edinburgh, “the use of satellite images makes it much cheaper to keep track of how far we are in reaching the United Nations’ goals for sustainable development."
Geospatial insight transforms the way we do business
Given that our careers and capacities are driven by intrinsic passions, individuals in the remote sensing field can gravitate towards any sector of interest. Extractable geomatics may be one of the most influential datasets to reduce the time and costs of permitting approval, smart regulation and construction projects specific to foreign direct investment and infrastructure development. By recognizing the capabilities and performance empowerment of real-time imagery data analytics on processes, critical path methods and time-cost savings evaluations across every industry, we can better express the profound benefits of how geospatial insight is transforming the way we do business.
With the plummeting cost of imagery data and diminishing barriers to space, satellite-derived solutions with IoT, sensor and financial archives are transforming the predictive era. Reliable and scalable machine-learning computation is manifesting next-generation products akin to the real-time simulation of global supply chains and distribution networks with progressive economic development rates from a host of geospatial variables in national ecosystems. From forecasting the movement of trade across our skies to predicting resource demand and supply levels, we can begin to capitalize on market trend fluctuations on any scale right from the start. By incentivizing bilateral relations in the geospatial domain between governments and international entities, we can democratize access to Earth observation.
Growth in capital demand
“That’s when we will evolve this smaller industry, which is about a US$5 billion addressable market, to be part of the business-to-business information services economy, a US$100 billion to US$200 billion industry. That’s what we’re focused on,” said Robbie Schingler, co-founder of Planet Labs. To grow into a US$200 billion industry, we can communicate the substantial life and community improvements of what the Earth observation industry will be capable of in under five years. We can better convey long-term savings from real-time insight from high-resolution imagery to decision-makers in end-user markets to accelerate approvals of financial resources.
The growth in capital demand not only enables us to expand satellite systems, but also to embrace higher risk for exponential technologies such as synthetic aperture radar, alternative propulsion sources, on-orbit servicing, quantum software-defined spacecraft and 3D printed extraterrestrial structures by capitalizing on cost-saving evaluations from exponential technologies. Advancements in Earth observation and satellite technology are establishing foundations for humanity to accomplish the unthinkable in deep space exploration.
http://www.GIM-INTERNATIONAL.com Viernes 18 de Enero del 2019
Today’s digital societies require a continuous supply of updated, reliable and correct geodata, and new technologies are arriving with increasing speed. The manned aerial survey isby far the main source of high-resolution geographical data in the geoinformation ecosystem. This article looks back on the first edition of the European Aerial Surveying Summit, which was held in Denmark in December 2018.
When people talk about geographical data and its creation, then satellites or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) – ubiquitous in the daily media stream – often spring to mind. Lately, mobile surveying systems have started to take on a growing role in data capture, especially in urban areas. While all these sources are playing an important part in the geoinformation ecosystem, the main source of high-resolution geographical information remains, overwhelmingly, the manned aerial survey.
Many critical governmental planning processes at any level of authority, whether for fair distribution of subsidies, transport infrastructure planning or flood protection, require a coherent geographical dataset in the accuracy and resolution band of better than 25cm (and for engineering processes down to under 3 cm).
Many processes are already migrating to three-dimensional data. A specific example is the area of flood prediction and protection measures, where an increase in geometrical accuracy can help to prevent catastrophic events. Additionally, flood events are subject to regional influences, and updated high-resolution height models are scarce and inconsistent across national and state borders. Other areas that are increasingly dependent on high-resolution height information include 5G network planning and power transmission, both of which are crucial elements of digital societies.
Today, over 90% of such data originates from manned aerial survey. The reasons are simple: satellites do not provide the required geometrical resolution and accuracy, drone applications are not yet suited for wide-area surveys, and mobile mapping systems are restricted to movement along roads or rails and provide only the horizontal perspective.
Aerial imagery market size
In terms of the size of the market, most sources agree that the global aerial imagery market currently has a value of between US$1.5 billion and US$2.3 billion, and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 11.5% and 14%. The global airborne Lidar market is estimated to generate US$1.3 billion to US$1.8 billion at a CAGR of 16-22%. With North America being responsible for 35-45% of the global share, Asia 20-30%, and Europe 15-25%, the value generation is considerable.
At the same time, and despite this impressive market size, the European aerial survey industry is facing challenges: a new wave of market protectionism and isolationism, prices spiralling downwards, tighter airspace regulations, a lack of standardization, and the more restrictive purchase behaviour of public and large private customers.
The state of the aerial surveying industry
From 5-7 December 2018, representatives of the European Aerial Surveying Industry gathered in Elsinore/Helsingør, just north of Copenhagen in Denmark, at the first European Aerial Surveying Summit to address market opportunities and challenges. The Danish engineering company COWI, which with its mapping division is one of Europe’s major geodata suppliers, hosted the meeting, supported by the sponsorship of Hexagon, RIEGL, CAEAviation and Teledyne Optech. Exclusively dedicated to discussing the state of the aerial surveying industry, the event was the first of its kind in Europe in a long time.
Simon Musaeus, SVP of COWI’s mapping division, stated: “Originally, we aspired to give a platform for communication across the sector to inform and understand the options for improving collaboration and businesses. After announcing the summit, the response from the industry was overwhelming, which indicated that we all – acquisition companies, industry suppliers and public agencies – felt a strong need to address the same issues jointly.”
The agenda was designed to give a holistic view of the environment and room for open discussion on all relevant aspects of today’s aerial surveying industry in Europe. Denmark counts among the countries with the best-developed geodata infrastructure in Europe. Adam Lebech, representative of the Danish Agency for Digitization, opened the conference with a warm welcome note and underscored the increasing relevance of data in general to the rapidly digitizing Danish society. From The Netherlands, another leading country in the use of 3D geoinformation and a long-standing benchmark for NSDI, Erik Nobbe, manager at in charge of the national imagery and 3D programme at HWS, shed light on the reality of present-day aerial surveying data capture.
Aerial mapping of The Netherlands
Every year, a full aerial survey of The Netherlands is conducted two to three times to satisfy the needs of a growing number of users for relevant information. On the other hand, the rapidly growing demand creates considerable challenges: the data capture is often limited to a particular season (e.g. ‘leaves on’ or ‘leaves off’) and, within this time window, can only be carried out in cloud-free conditions. Imagery capture additionally requires a minimum sun angle to avoid shadows, which means operating during the busiest hours of the day. With three very active international airports, Dutch airspace is one of the densest and most strictly regulated in the world, which makes it very difficult to gain access for survey purposes. Despite the importance of geodata collection for the government, it has become clear that the air traffic control authorities and regulations are not willing to prioritize the operations. Unfortunately, this is no exception in Europe.
The discussion on general topics that the industry perceives as crucial to resolve led to the highlight of the summit – a workshop at which all 50 participants identified the most prominent needs facing society and the industry today. When discussing proposals for change, the attendees identified several key requirements for action which would strongly support the digital societies of the future and generate sustainable business for an innovative industry in Europe:
European funding for a large-scale data acquisition programme for high-resolution and high-accuracy 3D data. A good example is the North-American 3DEP
Cooperation with and support from the civil aviation authorities to better prioritize aerial survey for the capture of geoinformation that is crucial for governmental planning processes
To define, maintain and promote quality, safety, ethical and business requirements for the aerial surveying industry and provide certifications that are acknowledged Europe-wide to ensure a predictable quality and delivery of the data generated in a sustainable way
Education of the decision-makers and the general public about the important role that high-resolution geodata from aerial survey plays on the route to digitalization.
The group of participants agreed unanimously to start the formation of an industry association. This body shall act as a professional counterpart to national and supranational funding agencies, promote the use of aerial surveying data, ensure sustainability of the services by certification, and serve as a platform for communication and cooperation among the industry stakeholders to enact positive change. The working group to prepare the formation of the association consists of Simon Musaeus (COWI), André Jadot (Eurosense), Rachel Tidmarsh (Bluesky), Giovanni Banchini (CGR), Florian Romanowski (Opegieka), Aicke Damrau (Geofly) and Klaus Legat (AVT). The target is to incorporate the association before the end of 2019.
The summit was brought to a positive close with words from Søren Reeberg of SDFE, who welcomed the decision and commented that positive cooperation with the industry is also expected from the public sector. The organizers and participants are now looking forward to the next European Aerial Surveying Summit later this year.
http://www.GIM-INTERNATIONAL.com Viernes 18 de Enero del 2019
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) presented a project at the International Symposium on Experimental Robotics involving an autonomous drone fleet system that collaboratively mapped an environment under dense forest canopy.
Designed with search and rescue in mind, the drones used lidar, onboard computation and wireless communication, with no requirement for GPS positioning.
Each drone carries laser-range finders for position estimation, localization and path planning. As it flies, each drone creates its own 3-D map of the terrain. A ground station uses simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology to combine individual maps from multiple drones into a global 3-D map that can be monitored by operators.
The MIT team tested its concept via simulations of randomly generated forests, and world-tested two drones in a forested area at NASA’s Langley Research Center. In both experiments, each drone mapped a roughly 20-square-meter area in about two to five minutes, while the control system integrated their maps together in real-time.
The drones were programmed to identify multiple trees’ orientations, as recognizing individual trees in impossible for the technology, and individual trees’ orientation very difficult. When the lidar signal returns a cluster of trees, an algorithm calculates the angles and distances between trees to identify the cluster and determine if it has already been identified and mapped, or is a new mini-environment.
The technique also aids in merging maps from the separate drones. When two drones scan the same cluster of trees, the ground station merges the maps by calculating the relative transformation between the drones, and then fusing the individual maps to maintain consistent orientations.
http://www.gpsworld.com Jueves 11 de Enero del 2019
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