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Sight Lines: Geospatial Excellence in the Cloud

November 16, 2011
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Imagine working around the clock, with geospatial data coming at you from every direction, and being responsible for managing and assimilating every piece.



The MAPPS 2011 Geospatial Excellence Award winners with John Palatiello, executive director of MAPPS (front, far left) and Professor Robert Burtch PS, CP, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich., chairman of the judges' panel (far right).

Imagine working around the clock, with geospatial data coming at you from every direction, and being responsible for managing and assimilating every piece. A record-fast turnaround isn’t fast enough; your client needs the data yesterday. What’s more, they need it to be easily accessible to dozens of people in different departments and in the precise format that each decision-maker can quickly understand.

That was the situation the AeroMetric team found themselves in when they first arrived at BP’s operational headquarters in Houma, La., in April 2010. To some, it might have seemed nearly impossible. But through teamwork and close collaboration with the client, AeroMetric was able to develop a geospatial cloud solution that would allow key decision-makers to collectively evaluate and manage all of the response-related surveillance missions and imagery and would assist them in planning, QA/QC and exploitation of that imagery.

A critical breakthrough during implementation was finding the appropriate combination of cloud services to upload and host the many terabytes of imagery. AeroMetric’s solution integrated various commercial off-the-shelf software and customized interfaces, and it also involved developing integrated production workflows that allowed near-real time collaborative and interactive QA/QC of imagery while supporting a custody trail.

Today, AeroMetric continues to manage the geospatial cloud solution on behalf of BP and the Natural Resources Damage trustees. The project has provided a template for future implementation of standards-based geospatial web services.

“The sheer scale of the imagery acquisition for this project was daunting, capturing 11,000 stereo images collected over 8,300 square miles and 800 miles of shoreline and adjacent waters from Texas to Florida,” said Dr. Paul R. Carlson of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Providing NRDA trustees and other interested parties rapid turnaround and web access to [that] imagery and imagery from other satellite and aerial sensors to analyze the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the second Herculean task. AeroMetric’s ability to web-enable for easy access hundreds of thousands of indexed images over a compressed timeframe was remarkable.”

As one of the judges for this year’s MAPPS Geospatial Excellence Awards, I wholeheartedly agree. AeroMetric is well deserving of the Grand Award in this year’s competition. The firm also won the project award in the GIS/IT category.

“Aerometric was very fortunate to be part of this process with BP,” said Marvin Miller, the firm’s vice president, in accepting the award. “In spite of all the media and the bad press that BP may have gotten out of this, BP is really the hero here. So I’m accepting this [award] in their honor, and they are continuing to do an excellent job to restore the Gulf area to what it was before the event.”

AeroMetric was one of six firms honored for Geospatial Excellence at a reception hosted by T3 Global Strategies at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel in Herndon, Va., on Nov. 15. The other winners included:
  •   Microsoft Bing Imagery Technologies in the Airborne and Satellite Data Acquisition category for “Microsoft’s Bing Maps Global Ortho Aerial Data Acquisition Program”

  • BAE Systems in the Remote Sensing category for “Estuary Enhancement in the Garden State”

  • BAE Systems in the Photogrammetry/Elevation Data Generation category for “PAMAP: The Keystone to Intelligent Decisions”

  • KAPPA Mapping Inc. in the Small Projects category for the “Danbury, Conn. Airport” project

  • Woolpert Inc. in the Surveying/Field Data Collection category for the “Aeronautical Surveys for FAA WAAS Program”

  • Optech Inc. in the Technology Innovation category for the “ALTM Aquarius, the New Shallow-Water Mapping Sensor”

Congratulations to all the winners! It was an honor and a privilege for me to serve as a judge once again in the 2011 competition. The winning projects will be highlighted in the January issue of POB. Look for additional video interviews with some of the winning firms soon at pobonline.com! For more details about MAPPS and the Geospatial Excellence Awards, visit www.mapps.org.
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