The Future of Our Industry

The ASPRS Plenary Session was held this morning, with many in attendance. Dr. George Hepner, incoming ASPRS president and professor at the Department of Geography at the University of Utah, gave some opening remarks concerning his upcoming term and his passion for the industry. Hepner then encouraged the attendees to devote at least one hour per week to ASPRS efforts for both personal and professional reasons. Hepner indicated a need for labor force development and the need for more young people of diverse backgrounds to the industry. He suggested contacting local schools for prospects and encouraged networking.

Following Hepner's industry "pep talk," Lawrie Jordan, president of ERDAS Corp., took the position at the podium as the featured speaker.

Better imagery, Jordan says, is creating greater awareness today, especially with the public, which didn't have access to space and aerial imaging information for some time.

According to Jordan, the future of remote sensing lies in building successful solutions. But, are satellites the future? To answer this, Jordan cited a statistic: in the first four to six years of satellite deployment (1998-2004), approximately 80 percent of revenues will be generated from the sale of 1 meter imagery. He also said that aerial imagery is not competition for space imagery, but rather complementary.

With the many different platforms remote sensing and imaging takes on these days, the possibilities are endless. Blimps now carry GPS and remote sensing boxes. Helicopter applications provide fly-throughs of golf courses.

So, what about the cost? Jordan says most of these applications are low cost, and more importantly, beneficial. With the use of remote sensing data, more accurate information can be tied to mas for less technological individuals. Videography can be applied for other purposes. Pictures show how inaccurate older collected vector data really is. GIS users can get the benefit of high map accuracy without the need to be trained as photogrammetrists, which Jordan says will expand the market even further.

Hyperspectral sensor systems are getting easier and providing more accurate and useful information, too. Jordan says 20 m data is just around the corner.

With the many uses for remote sensing, including defence application, asset infrastructure/management, telecommunications, civil government tax assessment and urban planning, and utility corridor planning, to name a few, the improvement of remote sensing systems is of great importance. It is truly an exciting time to be in the industry.

The future, Jordan says, will emphasize component architecturek, integration with distributing sources of data, smaller and more customizable stand-alone products. Software, too, will continue to be adapted to meet new standards and help to solve expensive interoperability standards. The future of the remote sensing industry is brighter than ever.