Amanda’s Takeaways from the ENVI Analytics Symposium (#EAS2015)
So we had our ENVI Analytics Symposium last week in Boulder. Nine months of committee meetings, planning, and designing paid off beautifully with a well-organized and engaged conference crowd. As I digested all the presentations, a couple of themes and topics stood out, so here is my top 6 list (because top fives are so last year :))
That pivot to the cloud is happening. Numerous presenters have deployed their ENVI applications in a cloud modality. Datamapper.com, CloudEO, Digital Globe’s Geospatial Big Data, Esri, HySpeedgeo.com and I’m sure I've left out someone. Consumers are looking for answers and not everyone wants or needs to be a geospatial Ninja. Let us Ninjas figure out how to solve the problem and deploy to a cloud platform that can be accessed on demand and serve up actionable answers from a large pile of data.
Data Mapper’s Algorithm Market Powered by ENVI Services Engine
UAS, UAVs, Drones, whatever you call them, they are hot. Each presentation on these devices was followed by the question of “how are you legally flying them?” Precision Hawk, Agribotix, and Delair-Techall have exemptions or proper certifications to fly. And, see #1 above, both Agribotix and Precision Hawk are deploying their solution in the cloud. A new-ish method of data collection is pushing imagery into a more consumable platform for end users to get information.
Jason San Souci of Precision Hawk
Data Volume. Yes Big Data is having its day and then some. DigitalGlobe is taking on Geospatial Big Data with its approach of “Platform as a Service”— providing data and compute power to “show me where” I can find features in a sea of data. Dr. Devin White at Oak Ridge National lab is using a super computer all tricked out with GPUs to perform settlement mapping worldwide. Airbus DS has a World DEM at 12m resolution, enabling terrain modeling in areas which previously had only SRTM 90m data to work with — this dataset is huge. There are numerous scientists asking questions of big data and the compute power is there in force to do this and not just expensive super computers — a GPU can turn a laptop into a super computer if put to work the right way.
Dr.Devin White talking remote sensing and supercomputing, photo from Michael Prentice
Saving the world. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Enter Dr. Andrew Marx from Claremont Graduate University. He’s using Landsat data to tip and queue for Human Rights violations. Think looking at a pixel for change overtime to find where villages are burned or areas bombed, then using that ‘queue’ to get higher resolution data. A great use of free data to control costs of acquiring higher resolution Imagery. Dr. White, in additional to being a computer geek extraordinaire, is also putting his talents to use with the Gate’s foundation by finding settlements for polio vaccination campaigns and disease eradication. Vice Admiral Robert Murrett (Ret) was the perfect proxy to talk to these gentlemen in the panel discussion owning to his military experiences and understanding of how remote sensing can provide information to keep people safe and mitigate suffering.
Vice Admiral Robert Murrett (Ret) addressing the crowd, courtesy Trajectory Magazine
Spectral Analysis is still uncovering new discoveries. From Bill Baugh’s presentation on WV3 and SWIR data (you can see crazy boat wakes because of the bubbles in water in SWIR data). Ray Kokaly’s PRISM tool is amazing! 1). It’s free because it was developed by USGS 2). It works with ENVI or the IDL Virtual Machine and 3). It makes wickedly good mineral and vegetation maps. Ray also presented on a new vegetation senescence absorption feature in the 1500-1600nm range (I don’t recall the exact bands). I think it’s fair to say most people probably thought this feature noise or an artifact of atmospheric correction. Fred Kruse showed how thermal data can enhance HSI imagery for certain mineral mapping. So lots of great info on “imaging spectroscopy”, if you ascribe to the Roger Clark world view, or “Imaging Spectrometry”, if you ascribe to the Alex Goetz world view.
USGS Mineral Map of Afghanistan created with the PRISM Software
In the end it comes down to basics. Atmospherically correct your data; it does make a difference if you are going after a numeric result. If you fly under clouds with a UAV, you will have a shadow in the imagery and your data will be harder to interpret. The word “Data” is plural as in “These data are” or “The data were collected over a series of years and not without the PI losing her mind” (you’re welcome Fred Kruse). For pure pixels, georegister after analysis. Close your parenthesis, end your for loops, and in the meantime think about what you would do with unlimited compute and data resources and tell us about it at the next EAS!
Follow me on twitter @aoconnor and check out#EAS2015 for all the tweets and pictures at the conference.