Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saab's "Magic Maps" for the Military

Of all places, Fox News recently ran a news clip meant to demonstrate to the general public the ever increasing power of geospatial technologies.  In this case, the subject matter was a program that the Swedish firm Saab has developed for its country's military called Rapid 3D Mapping.  During the clip, the Saab demonstration team shows how the program can be used to view highly accurate aerial imagery, calculate dynamic "shooter line-of-sight" positions, and measure object and distances with an accuracy within inches.  There are two ways to tune into this story:

  • Go here to watch the stand alone news clip in the largest presentation format available (4:27)

  • Go here to access the written version of the story and a small format copy of the news clip.  Note in this article the strong plug for how this technology could be used to support the Emergency Services Sector.

Comment: Regretatably, there is no way to remove the advertisement at the beginning of the video clip.  However, it is a very interesting news piece, and well worth your time.  That being said, here are a couple of background thoughts:

  • Each element of the technology being demonstrated here is nothing new.  During the Republican National Convention in 2008, the EPC demonstrated how to use the Civil Air Patrol ARCHER platform to obtain aerial imagery with 6 inch accuracy and display it to users in about the same processing time as advertised in the clip.  3D flash LiDAR and 3D aerial imagery collection have been around for about as long.  And, the shooter line-of-sight feature is something that has been available from National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) for National Special Security Events for even longer.  What is new here is the fusion of technologies and the simplification of interface to create a product that a non-GIS type can understand and use.  That is a significant and important development in this field.

  • Always remember - technology is not the issue.  We have long since passed the point where technology was the roadblock to the delivery of geospatial services to communities in need.  The two  roadblocks that remain are the same ones the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) identified many years ago when it assumed responsibility for promoting implementation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)  - People and Policies.  Consequently, until the leadership of the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) comes to understand the amazing degree of geospatial capability that it has failed to utilize, the People (training) and Policies elements will remain unchanged within ESS institutions, and what Saab is offering will be only a dream about what is possible.  

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