Blue Marble Monthly – May 2019

 

 

NEWS  |  Global Mapper Mobile Available through IGAPP

The Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program (IGAPP) offers an efficient way for the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense personnel to access the latest mobile technology. Recently, an enhanced version of Global Mapper Mobile for both Android and iOS devices was added to the list of applications available on the IGAPP store.

 

 

PROJECTIONS  |  Got a Drone? Now What?

It seems that every where you turn, someone is doing something interesting with a drone. Arguably one of the most significant technological innovations of the last decade, drones or UAVs have the potential to play an important role in the broad field of mapping and spatial data management. In a recent blog post, Blue Marble’s Outreach and Training Manager David McKittrick explored some of the ways in which Global Mapper’s functionality has evolved to meet the needs of this burgeoning technology.

 

BLUE GOT MAIL | Removing the Collar from a Raster Map

This month, we reach deep into the technical support mailbag and pull out a letter from a customer who asks how to remove the collar from their raster topographic map in Global Mapper. Once again, Billy Noble is on hand to show us how this is done.

 

DID YOU KNOW  |  3DEP Data Available in Global Mapper

Here in the US, we are fortunate to have open and free access to a wide variety of spatial datasets. One such data service, which is now available in the Online Data list in Global Mapper v.20 and newer, is the USGS-managed 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) data. This LiDAR-based DEM is derived from multiple sources with horizontal resolutions up to 1-meter. Click below to see some simple images of this data.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Once in a while, we include potential catch in the monthly Geo-Challenge; a location that could be easily misconstrued. Alas, not many of you were fooled into thinking that the desert in April’s challenge was Gobi Desert. Click here to find out the correct answer and to see how well you did with the four other locations. The first name pulled from the hat and winner of a copy of Global Mapper for April was Hugo Ahlenius from Nordpil. Ready for another challenge? Click below to see if you can recognize the latest five locations.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

EVENTS  |  GeoBusiness and GEOINT

Over the next few weeks, we will be setting up shop at two of the more important conferences in the Blue Marble calendar. GeoBusiness in London on May 21 and 22 and the GEOINT Symposium in San Antonio, Texas from June 2 to 4. If you plan to attend either of these events, be sure to stop by the Blue Marble booth.

 

Click here for more information on our scheduled training classes, or visit the Blue Marble Events page for more information on upcoming events.

Blue Got Mail – Removing the Collar from Raster Topographic Maps in Global Mapper

This month, we reach deep into the technical support mailbag and pull out a letter from a customer who asks how to remove the collar from their raster topographic map in Global Mapper. Once again, Billy Noble is on hand to show us how this is done.

Register to Watch GeoTalks 2019

Here’s a little taste of the presentations from this year’s GeoTalks — the online geo-conference that was recorded live on March 21, 2019.

Register online to access the recorded presentations: http://bit.ly/geotalks-2019-videos

There were presentations from:
Anthony Beach, BSP Engineers, Inc
Using UAS Technology in Combination with Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module

Michael Frings, MFBI Technologies
Optimal Positioning of Advertising Poles in Topographically Challenging Environments

Dan Martin, The National Geodetic Registry
Preparing for Change: New Coordinates Coming in 2022

Daniel Fagerman, LiDARUSA
Scanning the Past: A Look at the Ancient Mayan Pyramid at Uxmal

Where in the World Geo-Challenge – April 2019

View the form at Google Forms >

Where in the World March 2019 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the capital city – Baku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the river – Euphrates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the island – Île de la Cité

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the national park – Everglades National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – Hungary

 

Blue Got Mail – Finding the coordinates of a point from a loaded point cloud in Global Mapper

Billy Noble, Applications Specialist at Blue Marble Geographics, answers questions that come into the technical support inbox. In this video, Billy demonstrates how to find the coordinates of a point in a loaded point cloud in LAS format using Global Mapper.

Five Reasons to Sign Up for Global Mapper Training

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Application Specialist Katrina Schweikert leads a Global Mapper training course in Hallowell, Maine in January of 2019.

Blue Marble Geographics offers several training options to help users get the most out of their all-in-one GIS software, Global Mapper: Customized Trainingfor companies or organizations needing tailored instruction based on specific workflow needs; Self-Training, comprised of a series of lessons that users can tackle at home at their own pace; and Public Training courses that cover the extensive functionality of Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module.

While all three options have their benefits, the public training courses, which take place at a variety of locations around the world, come with a handful of perks on top of being great opportunities for users to increase the return on their Global Mapper investment.

In this blog entry, I will list the top five reasons why you should sign up for a public training class, and outline what this training journey looks like.

1. GIS training for both beginners and professionals

Public training molds to the GIS –skill levels and knowledge of the attendees.

A couple of weeks before the class, attendees receive a Getting Started package, which includes the following resources:

  • A PDF of the training manual
  • The data files that will be used in the course
  • Links to the Getting Started Guide and video
  • The Self-Training materials

While it’s not required for attendees to look at these resources, the package gives them the opportunity to see the topics covered in the courses. It also gives attendees time to reach out to Blue Marble’s training team with any specific questions or concerns they may have about the material.

This pre-course communication helps trainers understand attendees’ skills in GIS, ensuring that all attendees get the most out of their individual training experience.

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Trainees listen to instructions in the Global Mapper training course that took place in Hallowell, Maine in January of 2019.

2. Hands-on instruction from GIS experts

In a public training class, Blue Marble’s applications specialists walk through workflows that attendees follow, and provide plenty of opportunities for attendees to ask questions.

Introducing functionality that attendees may not have previously known, this hands-on experience allows trainees to apply new knowledge with real data and in meaningful ways. Their earned skills – ranging from basic Digitizer usage, to more advanced functions such as a variety of terrain analysis functions– can later be remembered and practiced at home with the training manual and data files trainees will take with them.

See the agenda for the Global Mapper class here.

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Applications Specialist David McKittrick gives an overview of the Global Mapper toolbars in a training course in Hallowell, Maine.

3. A resume builder with an official certification

The complete Global Mapper training course is a three-day program incorporating two separate courses that attendees can sign up for individually or as one continuous program. The first two days are dedicated to the core functionality of Global Mapper, and the third day focuses on the LiDAR Module and point cloud processing.

Individually, the courses are great resume builders, however when, taken together, they earn attendees an official Global Mapper User certification. If an attendee is just starting their GIS-related career, a certificate can be a valuable credential proving their broad range of terrain analysis, 3D data editing, LiDAR processing skills, and more.

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Trainees are given data sets to follow along with workflows during the training courses.

4. An introduction to LiDAR and point cloud processing

With increased access to affordable ways of collecting LiDAR and point cloud data, it’s become more important for GIS professionals to understand what to do with this data and to have access to tools that can efficiently process it.

The third day of training focuses on point cloud processing, covering a range of topics, including: LiDAR filtering and editing techniques, photogrammetric point cloud creation, feature extraction, and more. Whether trainees are just starting to use point cloud data, or if they are experienced, this one-day intensive class will cover everything they need to know about Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module’s capabilities.

See the full LiDAR agenda here.

5. A networking opportunity – connecting with GM users

Supplementing the learning experience, the public training courses also offer the opportunity for trainees to meet other members of the Global Mapper user community and to network within the industry. A broad range of professionals – from government workers to UAV pilots– attend and benefit from Blue Marble’s training courses, which makes these courses rich in a different way every time.

Public Training – A valuable GIS experience

Whether it’s to boost a burgeoning GIS career or to re-energize and enrich a mature one, Blue Marble’s public training is a valuable experience that provides insight into the basics of Global Mapper, lesser known software features, certification, and networking opportunities.

To see when a training is coming to a location near you and to register, visit the Blue Marble training page. If you have any questions about training, contacttraining@bluemarblegeo.com.

Foreshadowing Geodetic Updates: NADCON 5.0 in Geographic Calculator 2019

The latest version of Blue Marble Geographics’ coordinate conversion software continues the 25-year tradition of providing solutions for the most complex geodetic challenges. Geographic Calculator 2019 offers a number of requested improvements, such as a more user-friendly interface, a universal copy and paste function, a new angular unit conversion tool, as well as several enhancements to seismic file format support. However, a closer look also reveals several new features that provide some insight into more significant shifts in Blue Marble’s future development plans.

Geographic Calculator 2019 has added support for version 5.0 of the National Geodetic Survey’s (NGS) North American Datum Conversion tool (NADCON 5.0). This single line item in the release notes may be easily overlooked, but it represents years of work by NOAA-NGS. It also represents a fundamental change in the way United States coordinate reference system and reference frame transformations are performed. Before delving into the details, let’s answer this question…

What is NADCON 5.0?

The origin of this transformation methodology is rooted in the readjustment of the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD27) to the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83). The differences between these reference frames were very regional and irregular, which resulted in shifts that could not easily be modeled with traditional mathematical transformations. The solution was the original North American Datum Conversion (NADCON) Utility, which was adopted in 1990 as the federal standard for modeling differences between the two systems.

The early versions of the NADCON transformations typically had an accuracy of 12 to 18 centimeters, which represented a significant improvement over most other large-scale models at the time. That said, the tool did have its shortcomings. According to NGS, it was “poorly documented, was applied inconsistently across regions, contained numerous errors, and was difficult to use”. Those kinds of defects were also shared by another NOAA-NGS tool called GEOCON, introduced during the realization of the NAD83(2007) reference frame. The significant difference between the original NADCON and GEOCON transformations was the latter’s ability to perform three-dimensional coordinate transformations among various newer NAD83 frames. This was also improved in GEOCON11 (version 2.0), but time constraints meant that only eleven states were able to provide data for these adjustments.

NADCON 5.0 was built to replace both of these imperfect NGS tools. Unlike its predecessors, it is well-documented, more “user-friendly”, it includes downloadable transformation grids that can be integrated into third-party software, and covers the entire United States (including overseas territories). Newer remote sensing technology and the ability to handle much larger datasets also allows for a finer level of detail during the transformation process. As with the GEOCON model, NADCON 5.0 also offers new transformations between many reference frames and three-dimensional coordinate systems, and it supports the US National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) as well as many other previously unrecognized local horizontal coordinate systems dating back to the late 1800s. It also provides local error estimates as a component of the transformation, which is likely to pique the interest of your friendly neighborhood geodesist.

How does NADCON 5.0 work?

Like the traditional NADCON version 4.0 transformation, version 5.0 is delivered as a set of grid files that can be used to move between individual reference frames. Unlike version 4.0 however, it is no longer limited to horizontal shifts. The new grid files contain fields for identifying 3D transformations between reference frames and an error metric where available. Furthermore, there is a much larger set of grids to choose from and it is no longer constrained to the traditional NAD27->NAD83 or NAD83(20xx)->NAD83(20xx) model. Instead, transformations can be performed between six separate realizations of NAD83, NAD27, and the US Standard Datum (USSD). NADCON 5.0 also provides access to precise transformations between other historic systems such as the Old Hawaiian Datum, Puerto Rico 1940, and local Alaskan systems, such as the St. Paul Island reference frame of 1897 and 1852.

Unlike the old version 4.0 transformation, NADCON 5.0 was designed to chain together various grid files to provide a more accurate result. This makes things a bit more complicated because of the need to keep track of individual transformations as components of a larger concatenated operation. The following diagram shows an example of a shift from the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 63.

Diagram from the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 63

The illustration shows a chain of transformations for moving a surveyed data point based on the USSD system to NAD83(2011). Any subset of the chain can be used independently as part of the NADCON 5.0 model. This chain process can support a new model once it is created (for example, the 2022 National Reference System) and with one grid file, associate it to all historical models.

So what is foreshadowing about the addition of NADCON 5.0 in Geographic Calculator?

NADCON 5.0 will be instrumental in the transition to yet another adjustment from NAD83 on the horizon — the introduction of the new National Reference Frame of 2022 (NATRF2022) and NSRS2022.

A graphic from the NOAA Technical Report NOS NGS 63 shows the errors for horizontal transformation for USSD/NAD 27/CONUS.

If you are a frequent visitor to Projections, the Blue Marble blog, you may have read an entry by Product Manager Sam Knight explaining why the new NSRS is being developed. If you haven’t seen Sam’s entry, the short explanation is that geoid and GPS-height accuracy have improved and that NAD83 did not account for the dynamic movement of our planet over time. Under the new system, all measurable gravity-related values (such as orthometric heights, geoid undulation, deflections of the vertical, etc…) will be time dependent for compatibility with the NATRF2022 coordinate systems — making for more accurate time-dependent transformations.

NSRS2022 will also replace all of the current vertical datums, which will require updates to VERTCON — another NGS transformation tool. Originally designed to transform between the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) and the North Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29), the 2022 update to VERTCON will transform orthometric heights from the old datums into heights in the new North American-Pacific Geopotential Datum (NAPGD2022).

Small changes leading up to larger changes

With awkward acronyms, complex geodetic concepts, and NGS tool history, the 2022 update as it relates to NADCON 5.0 is a lot for a short blog entry. But hopefully you get the key message: NGS is making big changes that will lead to more accurate transformations and Geographic Calculator is an early adopter of these new geodetic parameters. Be on the lookout for more updates as tools like NADCON 5.0 develop and grow. Until then, the Geographic Calculator will continue to hold a finger on the NGS pulse.

To learn more about NGS, its tools and the upcoming NSGS of 2022, visit their website at https://www.ngs.noaa.gov or read this NOAA report.

Blue Marble Comes to Town: Holiday Week at the Office

Last week, we, at Blue Marble, held our annual “Winter Holiday” week — seven days of festivities and team-building fun. It’s one of the few times each year that our remote employees join us at the office and we have the chance to show them a good time.

During the week, we enjoyed dinner and a post-work game of trivia at our favorite local pub, where we came in second place … not too shabby. We had a fierce winter-wonderland-themed decorating contest. 22 of us entered, but only 1 was crowned the winner – Jess, with her gingerbread-themed desk that offered cookies, beer, and hot chocolate.

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Blue Marble Office Manager Jess won the first holiday decorating contest.
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Scott and Billy walk around the office to vote for their favorite festive offices and cubicles.
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Blue Marble President Patrick sits in his Nick-Offerman-Holiday-themed office.

We also took some time for some team building within departments. The Development team watched a movie, Tech Support and QA went bowling, and Sales and Marketing went out to breakfast.

The Company Holiday Party

At the end of the week, the whole company came together for our annual Holiday Party, where we looked back on 2018 in this video:

We had fun sharing a meal together, participating in a team gingerbread-building contest, playing spoons (the card game), and opening gifts in our Yankee swap, during which the infamous nose-hair trimmer was re-gifted once again.

From our work family to yours, have a safe and happy Holiday!

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The Blue Marble Team at the 2018 company holiday party.
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Five Reasons Why You Should Attend a Blue Marble User Conference

Patrick Cunningham at BMUC 2018Chelsea E | Projections
Blue Marble President Patrick Cunningham welcomes attendees at the Blue Marble User Conference 2018 in Portland. He talked about the use of Global Mapper by organizations such as NASA, GolfLogix, BGC Engineering, and more.

 

On September 21, one of the most prestigious geospatial events took place!

 

via GIPHY

 

You guessed it! It was the 25th Anniversary Blue Marble User Conference.

So, there might be a chance that you haven’t actually heard of this event. That’s ok! I’m writing this to convince you that, whether you are a Blue Marble software user or not, you should know about this conference.

Here are the five reasons why you should join us at the Blue Marble User Conference next year:


Mike Childs at BMUC 2018Chelsea E | Projections
Mike Childs, the Global Mapper Guru, responds to a question from a conference attendee.

1. I’m there! … and Global Mapper architects, developers, and experts are too

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Channel Account Manager Myles LaBonte (left) and Blue Marble reseller Laurent Martin (right) after the Blue Marble User Conference. Laurent, who traveled almost 5,000 miles to attend the conference, says that he’s always felt like he is a part of the Blue Marble team.

Yes, I’m there running around taking pictures and recording video (and eating the food), but what’s more valuable to you are the software developers and resellers who are there to hear your questions and requests.

This particular Blue Marble User Conference was especially valuable because the Global Mapper guru Mike Childs and our international resellers were there. After the day’s presentations and software demonstrations were over, Mike answered questions and heard software  suggestions from attendees while our product manager jotted down the ideas.

It’s a part of Blue Marble’s core values to welcome and encourage users to be part of the development process. That user-to-developer communication is usually in the form of emails, but at a Blue Marble conference, users can communicate directly with the experts and know their ideas will make it to a discussion in our development meetings.


Larry Mayer at BMUC 2018Chelsea E | Projections
Larry Mayer presents on advancements in sonar and visualization technology for exploring the sea floor at the Blue Marble User Conference 2018 in Portland, Maine.

2. You will be inspired by presentations from distinguished GIS professionals

Did you know that scientists know more about the surfaces of Mars and the moon than they do of the Earth’s ocean floor – aka 75% of the world’s surface? I didn’t.

At this Blue Marble User Conference, Larry Mayer, Director of the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering and Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire (phew! Long title!), delivered a presentation on the advancements in sonar and visualization technology for exploring the sea floor. He explained how the technology has helped in the discovery of 3,000-meter high mountains in the Arctic, D-day wrecks, the behavior of whales, and the history of climate through the impact of ice on the sea floor. He touted that investing in more ocean research would help us, people of the world, gain a better understanding of our planet.

Chelsea E | Projections
Ron Chapple, CEO of Aerial Filmworks, discusses his role in the making of the Pulitzer Prize-winning documentary “The Wall”.

Our second keynote speaker and CEO of Aerial Filmworks, Ron Chapple took attendees from exploring the deep with Larry to examining the Earth from above. Ron talked about the challenges that came with producing the Pulitzer Prize-winning documentary “The Wall”, which analyzes the impact of the proposed wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. His role in the project was to shoot aerial footage, over which he highlighted the location of the 2,000-mile long border using Global Mapper.

I was surprised to learn how difficult it was for the team of “The Wall” to accurately represent the curvy U.S.-Mexico border in the video.

My point is that BMUC includes amazing presentations by distinguished GIS professionals that give insight into projects that are relevant to the industry today.


David McKittrick at BMUC 2018Chelsea E | Projections
David McKittrick, Senior Applications Specialist, offers “Tips and Tricks” on how to use Global Mapper at the Blue Marble User Conference 2018 in Portland, Maine.

3. You will leave smarter and gain Global Mapper “Tips and Tricks”

In between presentations at this year’s BMUC, Senior Applications Specialist David McKittrick took a few minutes to share some “tips and tricks” on how to use Global Mapper. The tips ranged from how to use the multiview display, smooth contours, view data in Google Earth, and create a terrain cutaway.

David also presented on the recent release of Global Mapper 20 and the LiDAR Module, which offers streamlined map layout tools, the ability to create a point cloud from a 3D mesh, a new eyedropper tool for selecting features, dramatically faster loading speeds for working with vector files, and a lot more.

All of these demonstrations were followed by an opportunity for attendees to ask questions that would help them apply these techniques to their own projects.


Larry Mayer talking with BMUC 2018 attendeesChelsea E | Projections
Larry Mayer answers questions after his presentation at the Blue Marble User Conference 2018 in Portland, Maine.

4. You will eat with other GIS professionals and have a chance to win a prize

Geo-Challenge Tie Breaker
The Tie Breaker slide. Can you name all the countries that were once collectively Yugoslavia?

Throughout the day, drinks and snacks were available, and at noon we provided lunch. During lunch, we challenged our attendees to participate in a Where in the World Geo-Challenge, in which they were asked to guess the names of geographic features in a slideshow.

At this year’s BMUC, we came prepared with a tiebreaker question, since we expected that a room full of GIS professionals would easily be able to guess all of the features correctly. The winner of the challenge went home with a gift card to the Blue Marble Emporium.


Sam Knight, David McKittrick, and Mike Childs at BMUCChelsea E | Projections
Sam Knight, David McKittrick, and Mike Childs answer questions at the end of the Blue Marble User Conference in Portland, Maine.

5. You will spend only $25 to attend

So why wouldn’t you attend BMUC if it’s only $25 for a day full of GIS presentations, networking, and lunch?!

They had me at “lunch”, so … I’m not sure why you wouldn’t register.

Stay tuned for future Blue Marble User Conferences

All jokes aside, BMUC truly has a lot to offer GIS professionals, even if you aren’t a user of Blue Marble software. From the insights of our keynote speakers, to the latest software developments and one-on-one interactions with our experts, BMUC is a great opportunity to connect with Blue Marble staff, have a direct impact on the software you use, and to network with members of the GIS community.

So stay tuned for Blue Marble User Conferences near you by following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, or by checking out Blue Marble User Conference page.


Chelsea Ellis


Chelsea Ellis is Graphics and Content Coordinator at Blue Marble Geographics. Her responsibilities range from creating the new button graphics for the redesigned interface of Global Mapper 18 to editing promotional videos; from designing print marketing material to scheduling social media posts. Prior to joining the Blue Marble team, Ellis worked in graphic design at Maine newspapers, and as a freelance photographer.