Blue Marble Monthly – Are You Ready for Global Mapper 20?

Product News, User Stories, Events, and a Chance to Win a Copy of Global Mapper Every Month

Here in New England, the summer heat is finally waning, the leaves are beginning to show some color, and most of the tourists have headed south (Hooray!). This seasonal transition precipitates a major event here at Blue Marble: a new release of Global Mapper is on the horizon. This month, we offer a sneak peek at some of the highlights of version 20, we shine the spotlight on our Indian partner, Schnell Informatics; we hear from the USFWS about protecting vulnerable habitats in Florida; we offer students a chance to win a $500 scholarship; and we give everyone a chance to win a copy of Global Mapper 20 in the Where in the World Geo-Challenge.

NEWS | Win a $500 Scholarship

Are you a student using Global Mapper? Would you like to win $500? If you answered yes to these questions, you’ll probably be interested to learn that Blue Marble is introducing the Global Mapper Scholarship Program. To enter, simply share the details of the work you’ve been doing with Global Mapper and, after reviewing all of the submissions, Blue Marble will select the winner.

 

USER STORY | Monitoring Mouse Habitat with Global Mapper

Sea level rise is generally regarded as one of the most significant environmental problems that we will face in the coming years. With the help of Global Mapper, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service scientists have been studying the impact of sea level rise on the habitat of several mouse species on the Gulf coast of Florida.

 

PRODUCT NEWS | Global Mapper 20 Coming Soon

Subscribers to this newsletter will recall a series of articles that were published earlier this year highlighting some of the key milestones in the history of Global Mapper. Later this month, the saga continues with the release of Global Mapper 20, which includes an extensive list of new tools, functional upgrades, and performance improvements. As a sneak peek, we offer a preview of the top five highlights of this release.

 

DID YOU KNOW? | NextMap One in Global Mapper

The release of version 20 of Global Mapper includes a new online data option. NextMap One from Intermap Technologies provides seamless, one-meter resolution elevation data for the entire world. Available as a subscription-based online service, the data is available as a DTM or DSM providing unparalleled worldwide 3D analysis capability.

RESELLER | Schnell Infomatics in India

The Indian subcontinent represents a rapidly emerging market for geospatial technology and it is critically important for Blue Marble to have a competent and reliable partner in the region. Schnell Infomatics fits the role perfectly. In the latest Reseller Spotlight, we learn how the company has succeeded in introducing Global Mapper to a wide variety of business sectors and government departments in the region.

 

 

VIDEOS | Sign Up for Our Live Webinar

Coinciding with the release of version 20 of Global Mapper, Blue Marble applications specialists will be conducting a live webinar showcasing the highlights of this version. Scheduled for September 27, the live format offers an opportunity to see the software in action and to ask questions of the presenters. Registration is required and space is limited so be sure to sign up today.

This and previous Blue Marble Webinars and Webcasts can be viewed at the Blue Marble YouTube Channel and on the Webinars page on the Blue Marble web site.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

When asked to name the bridge in September’s Geo-Challenge, the entrant mononymously named John suggested, and I quote, “I think I’ll name it Clarence, Clarence Bridgingsworth the Third.” Much as the judges would delight in accepting this answer, we feel it would establish an unhealthy precedent so unfortunately for John, we have to defer to what most consider to be the correct response: Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Janet Hoskings from Spookfish, an imagery processing company in Western Australia, wins a copy of Global Mapper for being the randomly drawn entrant who correctly recognized all of the locations. Click here to see how well you did and click below to try your hand at September’s Geo-Challenge.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

EVENTS | Conferences, Training, and BMUC

October and November are particularly busy months in Blue Marble’s events calendar. Look out for company representatives at conferences and trades shows from Las Vegas to London. Click here for details.

 

There are still some spaces available at the Global Mapper training classes in Houston in October and Orlando in December. Reserve your seat here.

 

Before all that, we are delighted to be hosting the Blue Marble User Conference in our home state of Maine. Join is on September 21st for a day of presentations, company news, and networking.

The Top 5 New Features of Global Mapper 20

point cloud from 3D mesh
Global Mapper 20 not only offers the ability to create point clouds from 3D meshes, but also offers the option to create a flattened orthoimage derived from the colors in the mesh.

What’s New in Global Mapper version 20?

If you are like most people, it’s unlikely that you take the time to read the plethora of dialog boxes that appear when installing software but if you did, you might actually learn some interesting details about the application. In the case of Global Mapper, one of the windows that beckons for your attention is the “What’s New…” list. While we understand the eagerness of most users to repeatedly click the Next button and finish the installation process so they can “play” with their new toy, it might be worth pausing on this one for just a moment.

Blue Marble’s development process requires each new tool, functional upgrade, bug fix, and performance improvement to be meticulously documented and archived. What you are presented within the “What’s New …” list is an abbreviated version of this archive. In a sense, the list offers a summary report of what the development staff has been working on over the preceding weeks and months. It can make for some interesting reading.

For the soon-to-be-released Global Mapper version 20, there are more than 200 individual changes that have been noted. Given the dynamic nature of the development process, this number will likely increase by the actual date of release.

For those of you who do not have the time or the wherewithal to peruse the entire list, what follows, in no particular order, is a summary of five of the most significant new features that you will find in Global Mapper 20.


Map Layout tools have been streamlined in Global Mapper 20.

1) Improvements to the Map Layout function

One of the surprising findings from last year’s Global Mapper user survey was the importance of map printing. For years, the prevailing opinion has been that printed maps would eventually bite the proverbial dust, but this has not been the case. Global Mapper’s Map Layout functionality was completely redesigned a couple of years ago and it has been undergoing continual improvements ever since. For this release we have introduced a new tool for creating a map book or atlas from selected features;  a new option to filter the legend by layer; and a custom macro function that allows you to create title blocks with name, company, etc. Suffice to say, if your workflow requires the printing of maps, Global Mapper 20 has all the tools you need.

2) Support for Windows Tablets with improved touchscreen functionality

While Global Mapper has always been supported on Windows-based touchscreen devices, certain actions and UI procedures have been difficult. In version 20, there have been significant improvements that allow a wider range of actions to be controlled with your fingers. Pinching to zoom the map is now supported as well as swiping with two fingers to pan the map in both the 2D and 3D views. Previous enhancements to support touchscreen interaction include, touching the screen to activate contextual menus and tapping on the screen with any of the digitizing tools enabled to place points or vertices.

3) Ability to create a point cloud or flattened orthoimage from a 3D mesh or model

Creating a point cloud, similar in structure to LiDAR data, from an existing 3D model or mesh may seem like an inverted procedure. It is the reverse of what would be considered a normal workflow. It does, however, open up a number of interesting 3D analysis workflows, in which the source data is an existing 3D mesh. For instance, the point cloud created from the model can be readily classified, edited, and filtered using Global Mapper’s LiDAR processing tools, and points representing ground can be used to create a DTM. Version 20 of Global Mapper not only offers this new point cloud creation tool but it also offers the option to create a flattened orthoimage derived from the colors in the mesh.

4) Speed improvements when loading large vector files

Citing any type of performance improvement as a new version highlight is often perceived as subjective and difficult to quantify or validate. In the case of Global Mapper 20, the improved speed when working with larger vector files is tangible. During our internal testing, the load time for a specific large shapefile was measured at just over four minutes in version 19 of Global Mapper. In version 20, on the same multi-core machine, the load time was shaved to 2.5 seconds. That’s almost 100 times faster. Improvements have also been made to the rendering of large vector files in the 3D View.

Global Mapper 20 now offers a color picker option, with which users can simply click the section of a raster image that they want to extract color from.

5) Eyedropper tool for accurate color selection

Perhaps not a major functional upgrade, however, when considered in the context of one of the author’s favorite Global Mapper tools, it is a godsend. The tool in question is a feature informally referred to as “Raster Vectorization” or, to give its proper name, “Create Area Features from Equal Values”. The premise is simple: By identifying a specific color in an image, you can create polygons that enclose the extent of the pixels of that color or you can expand the tolerance to accommodate similar colors. Previously, fine-tuning the color selection involved manually entering the required RGB values. In version 20, there now is a color picker option, with which you simply click the section of the raster image that you want to extract. This color picker is also available when choosing a transparent color for a raster layer.

And a couple of bonus highlights for LiDAR Module users:

Tool for creating a 3D model or mesh from selected LiDAR points

The underlying technology that enables the creation of an orthoimage was incorporated into Global Mapper within the Pixels-to-Points tool, introduced in the LiDAR Module in version 19. As a byproduct of the photogrammetric 3D point cloud generation process, there is also an option to generate a flattened raster representation of the area in question. Previously, the only way to create either of these data outputs was from drone images. With version 20 of the LiDAR Module, there is now an option to create a mesh or orthoimage from selected points in an existing LiDAR file or point cloud.

Version 20 of the LiDAR Module will come with a new function to spatially thin a LiDAR layer. This tool allows users to specify a target resolution for the point cloud which eliminates redundancy, reduces file size, and improves performance.

Option to spatially thin a point cloud

The LiDAR Module offers an extensive array of point cloud filtering and editing tools. Among the options are: deleting selected points, geographically cropping a point cloud, removal of noise points, manual or automatic reclassification of points, and horizontal or vertical shifting of the point cloud layer. Added to this list in version 20 is a new function to spatially thin a LiDAR layer. This tool allows the user to specify a target resolution for the point cloud which eliminates redundancy, reduces file size, and improves performance.

Version 20 Coming in Mid September

Global Mapper 20 is scheduled for release in the second half of September 2018. Check your inbox or visit bluemarblegeo.com to find out when it is available for download. As always, you can activate a free two-week trial and if you have time, check out the full What’s New list to see what improvements have been made to your favorite Global Mapper tools.

US Fish & Wildlife Service: Global Mapper plays a key role in monitoring coastal habitats of mice

Gulf Island National Seashore
Imagery of the eastern end of Gulf Island National Seashore, Perdido Key, Florida, in 2010. This image is a mosaic of sand (light pixel) and vegetation (dark pixels) in the dune system in which the Perdido Key beach mice inhabit.

Monitoring a Coastal Dune Ecosystem

Cultivating a sense of moral responsibility for the environment involves more than public service announcements — it’s based on scientific knowledge.

A Peromyscus Polionotus

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve and protect natural resources, such as species on the federal endangered list, through observing changes in the environment and what those changes impact. As one of the bureaus of the Department of Interior, the agency chooses Global Mapper to assist in this environmental research.

The bureau’s Spatial Ecologist Paul A. Lang specifically monitors the habitat of three subspecies of beach mice:

  • St. Andrew beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus peninsularis)
  • Choctawhatchee beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus allophyrs)
  • Perdido Key beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis)

The mice inhabit the coastal dune ecosystem along the northern Gulf Coast of Mexico in the panhandle of Florida – an area vulnerable to impacts due to tropical storm events and sea level rise. Lang is interested in gaining a greater understanding of the habitat for the long-term conservation of the beach mice. Lang uses Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) for 2015 in order to investigate sea level changes.

 

A Lack of High Resoultion DTMs

The most important consideration when embarking
on any GIS project is ensuring access to appropriate and clean data.

One of the challenges that Lang has faced in his work is the lack of a high resolution DTMs of the area in which the mice live for certain years. As a solution, Lang accessed publicly available Topobathy LiDAR data from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE). This high density point cloud data was collected aerially and was obtained directly from the USACE and from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) data clearinghouse.

In order to integrate this data into his research, Lang needed software that had the tools for generating accurate DTMs from the LiDAR data without a steep learning curve.

Raw LiDAR point cloud
The raw LiDAR point cloud with pre-classified ground points used in Global Mapper to generate the final DTM.

Generating DTMs in Global Mapper

Lang chose to use Global Mapper and the accompanying LiDAR Module for his habitat mapping.

With a few simple steps, he generated the high resolution DTMs he needed for his research. First, he imported the .las files into Global Mapper and cropped them down to the area of focus. After visualizing and examining the characteristics and metadata of the point clouds in the software, Lang determined that further classification and clean-up was unnecessary. Second, he examined the inherent statistics of the data to get a better sense of the resolution he could create in the resulting DTMs. Third, he used the Create Elevation Grid tool to generate several DTMs that tested different values of No Data distance in order to fill gaps in the point clouds. After these tests, Lang arrived at high resolution DTMs based on the LiDAR data he obtained from the USACE.

From there, Lang was able to use the Simulate Water Level Rise functionality in Global Mapper to visualize potential water inundation on the mice habitat.

Shell Island and St. Andrew State Park
Shell Island and St. Andrew State Park with the Choctawhatchee beach mice critical habitat boundaries overlaid.

The Benefits of Global Mapper

According to Lang, he chose Global Mapper for his analysis because he didn’t find other software as “straight-forward” for processing LiDAR data. Global Mapper’s easy-to-use platform allowed Lang to quickly and accurately generate the high resolution DTM he needed without taking time away from his research.

Global Mapper allows for easy visualization, editing, and filtering of LiDAR and other point cloud datasets. The addition of the LiDAR Module, expands this functionality with auto-classification tools, automatic and custom feature extraction, point filtering options, and numerous other point cloud editing capabilities.

1-meter DTM
The 1-meter DTM generated using the pre-classified ground points contained in the LiDAR data from USACE.

About Global Mapper

Global Mapper is an affordable and easy-to-use GIS application that offers access to an unparalleled variety of spatial datasets and provides just the right level of functionality to satisfy both experienced GIS professionals and beginning users. Equally well suited as a standalone spatial data management tool and as an integral component of an enterprise-wide GIS, Global Mapper is a must-have for anyone who deals with maps or spatial data. The supplementary LiDAR Module provides a powerful set of tools for managing point cloud datasets, including automatic point classification and feature extraction.

About Blue Marble Geographics

Since the early 1990s, Blue Marble Geographics has been a pioneer in the development of powerful and innovative geospatial software. Widely regarded for its expertise in coordinate conversion and file format support, Blue Marble’s products include Geographic Calculator, the paradigm for highly accurate spatial data conversion and advanced projection management; Global Mapper, a fully-functional and affordable GIS application; and the Global Mapper LiDAR Module, a suite of powerful point cloud processing tools.

Where in the World Geo-Challenge – September 2018

View the form at Google Forms >

Where in the World August 2018 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the river – Rhine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the capital city – Manama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the bridge – Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the island – Hokkaido

 

Reseller Spotlight: Schnell Informatics

Pan India clientele of Schnell

Tell us a little bit about Schnell Informatics.

Started in 2006 as an entrepreneurial venture, Schnell has grown into a turn-key solution provider in the field of Geographical Information System (GIS) & geotechnical engineering. During its early years, the company explored opportunities in various fields such as GIS & GPS product sales, implementation of weather monitoring systems, geographical product sales to educational Institutions, and GIS services to various government departments.

In March 2010, Schnell Informatics Private Ltd. was floated as a private limited company with a special focus on providing complete range of solutions in GIS & MIS by leveraging its industry knowledge and business expertise. Schnell has carried out GIS-based projects for various government departments in India from 2010 to 2013. During these years, we began to realize we needed a product partner which we can bundle with GIS Services. This was the beginning of our association with Global Mapper which would eventually come under the control of Blue Marble Geographics. Global Mapper is widely regarded as a low cost GIS software with rich functionality and this has helped us to capture GIS product space quite fast as compared to other companies who were trying to expand their customer base with other costly GIS products.

Extensive demos to prospective clients in various fields such as education, government & private sector were well received and ultimately helped in establishing a foothold in their product portfolio. Now Schnell is major supplier of Blue Marble Products to Indian Army, Indian Navy & Indian Airforce. Schnell has introduced Global Mapper to large number of educational institutes throughout India. Also, many private companies are clients of Schnell and are using Blue Marble Products. We cater to companies in various sectors including mining, wind energy, telecom, forestry, irrigation, utilities, surveying and infrastructure.

How many people currently work for the company?

Schnell has a strong technical team of eight people who are engaged in pre-sales, sales and marketing, post-sales training & technical support.

The Schnell Informatics team at a geospatial conference

How have you been in business?

Schnell is currently led by its two Directors, Bhushan Khomane and Satyawan Jadhav. Both of us worked with few renowned software companies in India early in our careers from 2000 to 2006. At this time, we understood the need for low cost, yet feature GIS software for the Indian market. Global Mapper was an excellent fit. We understood this opportunity and hard work throughout the years as well as excellent products like Global Mapper has helped Schnell to achieve a prominent position in GIS field in India.

Tell us a little about your background in GIS?

Prior to Schnell, Bhushan has worked with a top Indian IT company in CAD/CAM and GIS. This helped him to understand the GIS market within India and gave him the opportunity to learn various GIS products. Satyawan also worked with an Indian IT company, which is considered as pioneer of GIS in India. Extensive experience is Sales and Marketing of GIS products has laid the strong foundation for sales of Blue Marble products within India.

What are your target markets?

Target markets include defense (Indian Army, Navy, and Airforce), mining companies, the telecom sector, infrastructure companies, survey companies, companies working in agriculture, educational and research institutes, and various government departments including irrigation, forestry, PWD, electricity and land records.

What geographic area do you cover?

Schnell covers entire country of India as well as neighboring countries like Nepal and Bhutan.

How long has Schnell been reselling Global Mapper?

We first added Global Mapper to our product offerings nine years ago.

Why were you originally interested in reselling Blue Marble products?

Blue Marble products are feature-rich, low-cost, and user-friendly.

Excellent technical as well marketing support by Blue Marble has inspired our team to achieve exponential growth.

What are your favorite features of Global Mapper?

  • Access to raster data, vector data, 3D elevation data and satellite imagery using one simple dialog box.
  • The Pixels-to-Points tool and LiDAR QC functionality in the LIDAR Module
  • Watershed and Viewshed analysis
  • 3D path profile creation

What has been your most interesting or challenging sales or support experience?

There was one particularly challenging sale to a leading telecom company in India, which we closed last year. The company had been using MapInfo for several years and we had conducted series of demonstrations of Global Mapper at various levels within the management of the company. After eight months of effort, we finally convinced them to buy Global Mapper. The highlight of this sale was the introduction of the Floating License of Global Mapper. Since this company desperately wanted to be able to quickly move their Global Mapper license from one machine to another, we discussed their issue with members of Blue Marble staff several times, which ultimately resulted in the introduction of a floating license. Interestingly, in past few sales we have noticed that clients have been preferring the floating license option over a standalone license of Global Mapper.

Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide?

Over the last several years, Schnell has been providing GIS services to clients based on Global Mapper. We also resell other geotechnical engineering software products like GEO5. GIS services include digitization of the road networks of various Indian cities as well as digitization of land records for government irrigation departments.

How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?

In early years of the company, Schnell was carrying out GIS digitization projects mainly for government departments. After we established a partnership with Global Mapper and later Blue Marble, Schnell started offering Global Mapper as commercial off-the-shelf product. With Global Mapper, Schnell was able to expand its client base to educational institutions as well as Indian defense and major private companies. This has given excellent boost to the top-line as well bottom-line of Schnell.

Timely co-operation by the Blue Marble team has always kept us motivated to grow our business every year. Also collaborating with Blue Marble at GIS Conferences within India has helped Schnell to build its brand within the regional GIS community. We are very proud of the fact that we are Indian partner of Blue Marble Geographics.

How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?

We can anticipate 30 – 40% annualized growth in revenue every year for next 8 to 10 years. Global Mapper has successfully penetrated the Indian market and with innovative sales strategies, we can achieve bigger targets.

Any final words?

We are happy and proud partner of Blue Marble Geographics for its software products in India. We wish to grow with growing company like Blue Marble and wish to contribute our best. We desire to be number one reseller of Blue Marble across the globe and we are trying hard to achieve that position.