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My Top 5 for 2014

Amanda O'Connor

Well another year has come and gone and hover boards seem only marginally closer. Now is the time for people making lists and recalling moments/favorites/trends of the past year, so here are my top 5 from 2014.

1) Cloud computing for remote sensing is getting closer. In the stove-piped world of remote sensing, there are so many data silos it’s staggering. Some organizations are really working to break these down, but by and large I still get data via FTP or DropBox. I’m not processing that data in a cloud architecture, but on my desktop. The ENVI task architecture makes it easier to deploy ENVI capabilities as web services and apps. There are some exciting developments coming in 2015 to make this more of a reality for ENVI and IDL customers, so stay tuned. 


ENVI’s change detection and aggregation deployed as a web service on the Landsat data archive


2) Big data processing – whether it’s adding GPUs, CPUs, or Amazon Extra Large instances, processing and getting results from entire archives of data is truly possible and is happening. Not long ago the art of the possible was many GB images, now it’s 1000s of terabytes if an application smartly takes advantage of resources. And it doesn't have to be a super computer that fills many racks and rooms. If the disk space for the data is there, the pipes are big enough to move it around, the processing capacity is there –this has a huge impact on high resolution imagery projects at a global scale.

 3) LiDAR feature extraction. My motto is now if you can see it in your LiDAR data, either ground based or airborne, it’s extractable. 3-D feature extraction has huge potential in agriculture, urban planning, corridor mapping (electrical, transportation, etc.), non-destructive testing, and a myriad of other uses. There are tools out of the box in ENVI LiDAR for trees, power lines, and buildings, but the sky is the limit once you get IDL involved.

4) UAS/UAVs – on the cusp of greatness. Integrating GPS inertial measurement units,connecting that to the camera time, fitting the camera/sensor, calibrating, testing, the actual flight mechanics, and being able to correct the data that is ultimately collected is a big task that can have really beneficial outcomes. Our professional services group is currently working with clients currently who need end-to-end pre-processing workflows for UAS. We’re finding that each system and requirement is unique, and while all the tools are there, working with the Exelis VIS team that include photogrammetrists and IDL/ENVI experts can often save costs verses the trial and error of DIY.

5) More bands, more data, more pixels. Digital Globe’s WorldView 3 is up and running, promising 27 bands in the VIS, SWIR, and SWIR II. Landsat 8 has fantastic and free world coverage. The World DEM from Airbus DS is the best I’ve seen and can compliment any imagery collection. NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Sensor, which will study hydrology, is set to launch January 2015. Microsats like Skybox and Planet Labs Flock1 are on orbit and collecting data. There’s imagery for every price range and every purpose and the great thing is you don’t have to be a remote sensing expert to use these datasets. ENVI can do much of the heavy lifting and with ENVI web services, Exelis VIS can write them, or you can have your in house expert write them and then use at any technical skill level in your enterprise. Truly remote sensing for the masses.

I’m at American Meteorological Society meeting in Phoenix this week, so if you’re there, say hello!@asoconnor




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