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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

IMIA Asia Pacific Conference: Part 2a

Power of Location

Conference information
The whole conference revolved around the theme: Power of Location. Majority of the speakers presenting the conference came from Australia with handful came from India, New Zealand and United States (representing IMIA Global and Americas). To kickstart the presentation, the Chief of Staff of USGS (National Geospatial Technical Operations Center) updated the delegates on latest activities of USGS.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)


Chief of Staff of USGS Topo presents USGS works
The signature  USGS product is the 7 1/2 min topographic maps. Every American user associates these maps with USGS. USGS very much remain in the business of producing these maps. In this digital age, USGS topographic maps have went electronic and are available for free for download and able to integrate with GPS devices easily. USGS produced 70-80 maps every day and in future, there will be push for users to build their own custom maps using USGS datasets on the website. In an era of constraint funding, USGS collaborated with federal, state and local government agencies to leverage funding to access new datasets. 

USGS is home to Centre of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science which works with universities and conducts significant research on mapping elements. It is also the manager of National Atlas, the online atlas of United States.A recent study shown that areas such as flood risk, agriculture precision, geologic resource assessment, hazard mitigation and infrastructure management are top beneficiaries of USGS data. 

Since 1994, USGS has started to incorporate Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) as part of dataset update. The VGI program was suspended on and off basis until 2010, where a full scale revival on VGI matter was initiated. USGS do award its VGI collectors with historical survey instruments as recognition of significant contributions. To ensure dataset accuracy, USGS  has a validation program to monitor the quality of VGI.

In terms of funding, the current funding is half of 1990 levels. USGS is able to do much of its operations with technological efficiency. Concept do more with less prevails. However, funding sequestration of 2013has put hold on LIDAR program to improve elevation dataset quality.

Geospatial Overworld


HERE Representative speaking on Overworld

The second Presentation was the race for the Geospatial Overworld and presented by Nokia HERE Business Development Chief. Firstly, we need to define what is Overworld. It is a term comes from computer games environment. It is top down visual perspective of the fictional environment within the game that precisely maps and describe its geospatial construction. This includes levels, terrain, boundaries, buildings, foliage, recruits, characters and associated interactions. Now, let's define Geospatial Overworld or Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). It presents a precise virtual representation of our real world, hopefully would be complete in 3D format and the information is updated in real time.

The foundation of SDI is built on high quality maps produced by geospatial professionals. The biggest investors ins SDI are ESRI (ArcGIS Online), Google (Google Map Engine) and Nokia (HERE). It is estimated USD 1 BILLION is invested to build the HERE Platform (Geospatial Overworld). The main buyers of Overworld data (not in order) are:

  1. Utilities
  2. Transport & Logistics
  3. Education
  4. Public Safety
  5. Natural Resources
  6. Health
  7. Financial Services
  8. Government
  9. Defense
  10. Property
  11. Media
Now focusing HERE Platform (SDI), the presenter focused on data cloud infrastructure where the Overworld is running on. It is built on multiple data centres across the world with highly scalable technologies. Next, we need to understand the building blocks of SDI Model:
  • Index: Capture a reference index of the real world
  • Platform: Essential for location services. Computing the right answer on the fly anywhere
  • Experience: Rich, interactive consumer experience for driving, mobility and enterprise.
SDI is delivered through Application Program Interface (API) and Software Development Kits (SDKs). One of the goals of SDI is hosting 3D Models on its platform. HERE, like Google, embarked huge street camera data capturing mission with a difference. They use LIDAR to capture the structure of every feature with high accuracy.

In today's world, it is fact the transition from 2D to 3D and vice versa is not seamless. However, in future, maps would fuse analytics and interactivity. Data would be fully visualized in 3D format with spatial attributes and integrating with user expectation. To bring a step further, internal building plans would be digitized and loaded into SDI. We are seeing this in various overworld platforms where user can zoom to airport, commercial centre or university to building layout and attributes.

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