Geospatial on Everything

August 29, 2013  - By
Image: GPS World

By Alan Cameron

Everything has a geospatial aspect. Everything.

Over grits, coffee, and the airborne delicacy purveyed at the Flying Biscuit Cafe (right out of the oven, right into your mouth) in Sandy Springs, Georgia, I absorbed this high-tech homily.

You’ve heard of the European financial crisis. Trace it back to geospatial, from the Greek banking collapse, which in turn had roots in the implosion of the Greek tax system, due to a plethora of gaps, inconsistencies, and exceptions filed in a largely uncontrolled property cadastre — the register of real property, including details of ownership, precise location (by GPS coordinates), and value of land parcels.

Lose control of your cadastre (your GIS), lose the country. With global interconnections, soon the continent, if not perhaps the world economy.

For want of a nail, the battle was lost.

Jump forward, technologically, to flash lidar. Ball Aerospace created this ability to capture continuous rapid multiple laser interferometry detection and ranging (LiDAR) images/point clouds, merged with continuous high-resolution optical images, to create full-color 3D models in real time. Stitched together with GPS, this produces real-time full-motion video: interactive geo-referenced metric 3D models.

In field application, this can yield time-critical 3D mapping for urgent missions, enhanced situational awareness, battlefield characterization, and tactical mission planning. It can help with disaster-response planning and event forensics. Real-time models could be communicated with the public through easily comprehended moving images via television or the Internet. of the actual progress of a fire or flood, together with evacuation routes.

Jump again to fabfi. What’s a fabfi?

FabFi is an open-source, lab-grown system out of MIT using common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless Ethernet signals across distances up to several miles. Communities can build their own networks for high-speed Internet connectivity, and access to online educational, medical, and other resources.

Simple, low-cost, and feasible in unstable environments: Afghanistan, Kenya, and any number of countries that leapfrogged telephone landlines to come quickly into the cellular era; now they can leapfrog Ethernet cable networks and even WiFi for virtual connectivity. Implement with locally available materials. Print out a 2D design file and create the pieces out of wood, metal, acrylic, clay, stone, or ice, as long as you can attach a metallic RF reflective surface to the front.

If you haven’t guessed the geospatial aspect of this, I assure you it’s there, but I’ve run out of room here.

For these geospatial glimpses, I am indebted to contributing editor Art Kalinski. Read his monthly columns here.

Alan Cameron is editor-in-chief and publisher of GPS World magazine, where he has worked since 2000. He also writes the monthly GNSS System Design e-mail newsletter and the Wide Awake blog.

This is posted in GSS Monthly, Lidar, Mapping, Opinions

About the Author: Art Kalinski

A career Naval Officer, Art Kalinski established the Navy’s first geographic information system (GIS) in the mid-1980s. Completing a post-graduate degree in GIS at the University of North Carolina, he was the Atlanta Regional Commission GIS Manager from 1993 to 2007. He pioneered the use of oblique imagery for public safety and participated in numerous disaster-response actions including GIS/imagery support of the National Guard during Hurricane Katrina; the Urban Area Security Initiative; a NIMS-based field exercise in Atlanta; and a fully manned hardware-equipped joint disaster response exercise in New York City. Kalinski retired early from ARC to join Pictometry International to direct military projects using oblique imagery, which led to him joining SPGlobal Inc. He has written articles for numerous geospatial publications, and authors a monthly column for the GeoIntelligence Insider e-newsletter aimed at federal GIS users.