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Fall 2009
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More than a Pretty Picture
Remote sensing summit stresses the importance of imagery

"This UC is the world's biggest imagery conference," quipped Lawrie Jordan, Esri director of imagery enterprise solutions, referring to the Esri International User Conference (Esri UC) as he welcomed attendees to the Esri Remote Sensing and GIS 2009 conference held in conjunction with the Esri UC. His comments underlined the importance Esri assigns to remotely sensed data in the GIS enterprise. In its second year, the event was held July 12 in San Diego, California. Attendance more than doubled last year's conference.

"Imagery is a core component of a modern GIS," said Jordan. He noted that speed matters in decision support, and imagery is driving GIS because there is now a flood rather than a dirth of imagery. As he sees it, the challenge now is not the availability of imagery but making it accessible because data must be both timely and authoritative.

"People want imagery now and in the format they want," Jordan also noted. With the focus on serving the enterprise, people want an application that is simple and science based. Jordan asserted that GIS and imagery belong together and always have, although people didn't always realize this. "They are two sides of the same coin."

ArcGIS provides a comprehensive platform for managing imagery via an information-centric workflow. Unlike traditional imagery workflows that are subject to bottlenecks and suffer from latency, ArcGIS combines processing and serving in a workflow that can grow and scale with user requirements.

Esri staff members Peter Becker and Lindsay McGreevy detailed the components of the ArcGIS information-centric workflow for imagery as well as unveiled the new functionality related to image management available in ArcGIS 9.4.

With the release of 9.4, ArcGIS becomes an image analyst workstation with the new Image Analysis window, better support for large images and more formats, and better access to Image Services as mosaics and catalogs. In the geodatabase, there are a new mosaic raster catalog and improved geoprocessing tools.

ArcGIS Server will be optimized for serving imagery and rasters with improved API access and server-based rendering. The ArcGIS Server Image extension can serve mosaics, has improved APIs, allows download of dynamic properties, and can serve JPEG2000 format data as JPIP streams.

Following this presentation, two case study speakers addressed the conference. Aurelie C. Chapiro, a remote-sensing specialist for World Wildlife Fund, spoke of her work with conservation. Lilian Pintea, director of conservation science for the Jane Goodall Institute's Africa Program, described how satellite imagery is being used for great apes conservation.

Marten Hogeweg, Esri senior project and product manager, outlined the special challenges of geoportals that primarily provide imagery data. In his presentation, Improving Access and Use of Imagery with Interoperable Off-the-Shelf Technologies, Hogeweg advocated a solution for geoportals based on using an assortment of services rather than one application. This avoids isolating data and reduces the latency between collection and availability. These strategies enhance the value of geoportals for imagery by extending the use of observation data, information services, and products beyond the use originally intended.

In response to comments by last year's attendees, an additional panel discussion was added this year. A panel of imagery data providers that included John Auble of DigitalGlobe, Joel Campbell of GeoEye, Russ Cowart of i-cubed, Roger Mitchell of MDA Federal, and Gerry Kinn of Esri fielded questions that had been submitted by the audience.

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